Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists: Mark Buckingham (p), Steve Leialoha (i)
The book opens by showing us that in spite of having been shot in the head at the end of the last issue, Snow White inexplicably managed to survive, and after spending six weeks in a coma, she awakens in the hospital to find quite a bit has happens while she was out. We see the situation at the farm has pretty much been dealt with, as all the guilty parties, except for the ever elusive Goldilocks, have been taken into custody. As we jump forward another two weeks, we see the various animals who took part in the rebellion are given their sentences, and in some cases we see the guilty are given the death sentence. Meanwhile, we see Snow White is quickly getting over her injury, and come Christmas time we see she is able to check out of the hospital, and make her way back to the Fables community in the city. As Dun & Posey Pig are executed up on the Farm, we see Snow is being told how her sister's seemingly traitorous actions have been explained away as an attempt on her part to keep herself & Snow from being summarily executed. We then see the two sister have themselves a heart to heart, where we learn how Snow was able to survive being shot in the head, and we also learn why Rose Red actively despises her sister.
The last issue ended with Snow White getting half her head getting blown off, and I must confess I fell for it hook, line & sinker. I mean, I made mention of the idea that Bill Willingham might have another card to play that would keep Snow alive, but truth be told I had fully convinced myself that the character was deader than a doornail. Now this issue sets itself to the task of bringing Snow back from the dead, and while there is part of me that is a bit disappointing to see this major status quo shaking event effectively reversed, I must concede that Bill Willingham does come up with a pretty solid explanation for how Snow managed to survive an injury that would leave most everyone else dead. The explanation for her miraculous recovery is also used to generate a fairly powerful scene where the readers learn why Rose Red is so resentful of her sister, and with this new information in hand I have to say Rose Red is a far more sympathetic character than she was before. On the other hand the explanation does remove a certain degree of danger from the book, as we see there are members in the Fables community who are effectively unable to be killed, and one has to think several of them have to be big Walt Disney fans for securing their immortality.
In addition to dealing with Snow's resurrection, the issue also busies itself with tying up the various loose ends that were left hanging. Now there are some clever little moments like what is done to the three giants & the dragon, as we see this foursome doesn't want to go back to sleep. However the biggest surprise this issue offers up in the idea that the Fables employ capital punishment to deal with their criminals, and we see the remaining members of the Three Little Pigs are used to deliver a fairly graphic presentation of this fact. Now I couldn't help but notice that Goldilocks remains on the loose, and I suspect she'll be making a return to these pages, which is good to see as the Fables have another name they can slide into the Rogues Gallery beside the Adversary. There's also some interesting little details like the fact that Digby Wolf looks to have been the most devoted visitor to Snow's bedside during her recovery, which nicely follows up on the romantic feelings that were established during the first arc. We also see that Snow isn't exactly dead set against the idea to trying to retake the Homelands from the Adversary, as she sets Weyland Smith to continue the buildup of arms that will be used in the impending battle.
Mark Buckingham has a clean style that proves to be a near ideal fit for this book, as while the book has a happy, carefree quality to it, the art also manages to capture the idea there are very serious ideas playing out in these pages. From the one-page spread where we get a chilling look at what happen to the ringleaders of the Farm revolt, to the emotionally charged encounter between Rose Red & Snow White, the art does a very impressive job of delivering the more serious-minded elements of the material. We also get a nice sense of how the mood of everyone involved in Snow's miraculous recovery grows more & more upbeat as her condition improves. There's also a nice sense of the passage of time as Mark Buckingham uses the seasons and other various signposts like a jack-o'-lantern, and a Christmas celebration to show the readers we are jumping forward in time quite rapidly. Given the Fables unchanged appearances, these signs of time's passage are actually quite important to the story itself, as there's only so many times a caption can tell you how much time has passed before it begins to feel intrusive. The fact that Snow is still in her wheelchair even after her injury looks to be fully healed is also a nice little visual cue that she is far from being 100%.
Once it became clear on the first page that Bill Willingham wasn't planning on killing off Snow White, I must confess my excitement level dipped a little. Not because I wanted Snow White dead, as she's one of my favorite characters, but rather it was a bit disappointing to see him edge the story back across the line that the previous issue looked to have went sailing past. Now the explanation for how she makes her return is pretty solid, and it's also used to generate a highly engaging exchange between Snow White & Rose Red, where we learn why these two sisters have been driven apart. The issue also does some nice work tying up the various loose ends that had been left hanging, as the situation up on the Farm is pretty much settled, and the book manages to deliver some pretty impressive surprises along the way, as we see Dun & Posey Pig are executed, and the new Farm administrator is a completely unexpected choice. Overall this was a pretty solid finish to yet another highly entertaining arc.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!