Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists: Mark Buckingham (p), Steve Leialoha (i)
The book opens with the severed head of Colin the Pig being taken down, and as Snow White openly wonders who would use such a disturbing method of sending her a message, us readers follow the head, as it is reunited with the rest of the body deep in the woods, and we learn the guilty parties are Goldilocks and the Three Bears, who along with the surviving Three Pigs look to be the primary agitators in this uprising. However, when their secret meeting is intruded upon by a curious Reynard the Fox, we see Goldilocks orders his death, and the cunning fox soon finds himself being hunted through the woods by the predatory Fables who have sided with the rebellion. Meanwhile, back at the Farm we see Red Rose has been contacted by Dun the Pig, as he correctly views her as a potential ally, and upon being shown the impressive stockpile of weapons that the rebellion has amassed, we see Rose Red decides to join up. Back in the woods we see Reynard is able to avoid becoming a late night snack, and he manages to make his way back to the Farm where he makes contact with a befuddled Snow White. The issue ends with Reynard making it quite clear that Snow White is no longer safe on the Farm.
Part of the fun of this series is a sense of discovery as one is introduced to various characters from Fables, and we learn what role Bill Willingham has cast them. So in the roles of the main antagonists we have Goldilocks & the Three Bears, and in another pleasant surprise we see the hunters sent after a member of the Farm community who isn't quite ready to join the rebellion are none other than Shere Khan the Tiger & Baghera the Black Panther, from the pages of the Jungle Book. Now I must confess that I'm not overly familiar with Reynard the Fox, as beyond the idea that he's a European creation that was quite popular some time ago, I don't bring any preconceived ideas to the table when this character is in the spotlight, as unlike the other characters I have yet to read the original story, though based on this issue I'll probably make a point of doing so, as he's a rather charming rogue. However, there's a lot of fun to be had in this issue if one is familiar with the original fables, as there's an enlightening revelation about why Goldilocks has remained with the Three Bears on the Farm, and the scene where Shere Khan & Baghera have their meeting in the forest draws most of its impact from one knowing the relationship these two had in the Jungle Book.
The issue also does some very nice work following up on the conflict that was established in the opening issue, as we see Goldilocks is the primary source when it comes to twisting this growing frustration into a full blown hatred of humans. It's also great to see that there's actually some debate among the ranks on how far various characters are willing to go, as nothing is quite as unconvincing as a movement where everyone involved is operating from the same play book. The Three Bears are a nice cross section of the various attitudes that seem to exist, as Papa Bear looks to be a follower who is willing to do what ever it takes, but is fearful of taking action that would get them caught. Mama Bear looks like she will take issue with the more extreme elements Goldilock's plans, but she also seems willing to let to back down when Goldy gets her dander up. As for Baby Bear, he looks like the ever obedient worker grunt who is willing to let someone else do his thinking for him, and when he does do some thinking its normally on a subject that has little to do with the rebellion, such as his hilarious response to Goldilock's comment about how life doesn't allow one to go back and correct past mistakes.
Mark Buckingham continues to offer up some very impressive work on this series, as his clean, yet nicely detailed work is proving to be a very solid match for this series' combination of the light whimsy of the original Fables, with the more adult aspects that earn this book its place in the Vertigo line. From the decidedly horrific display that opens the issue, as we see Colin the Pig's head is removed from display, to the highly charged chase sequence in the forest as Reynard the Fox finds himself targeted by some fairly serious predators, the art makes the material look great. The art also continues to do some nice work on making this cast of animals highly expressive, as Reynard actually comes across a dashing rogue, while Dun the Pig conveys the intelligence that makes him the brains behind Goldilocks' brawn. There's also some nice big impact moments, like when Red Rose is shown the armory, or Reynard has his meeting with Baghera. My one quibble would have to be the one scene where Baby Bear discusses his impressive package, as this comment seems at odds with the art given the character doesn't look to be wearing any pants. Then again I'm not sure I would really want the art to follow through on this comment, so the heavy shadowing does the trick.
This issue does a very nice job of introducing the characters who look to be acting as the primary antagonists, and while seeing cute little Goldilocks cast as a super militant aggressor is a surprising twist, the book does some strong work establishing the feelings that are driving her & the others to rise up. The book also introduces us to a rather charming character in Reynard the Fox, as he basically becomes the dashing rogue who moves through life with danger at his back, and a carefree approach to life that guides him past the various threats he comes up against. We also get a nice little turn of event when Rose Red decides to join the rebellion, thus leaving her sister alone to face the mounting danger. One also has to enjoy how the characters from the Jungle Book are inserted into the story, as the chase sequence in the woods does a wonderful job of drawing upon the tensions between Shere Khan & Beghera, which Reynard uses to aid in his escape.
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