Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists: Lan Medina (p), Craig Hamilton (i)
The book opens with Bigby Wolf and Bluebeard having a rather intense debate over what is to be done with the investigative reporter who is all set to write up an exposť on the Fables community, as Bluebeard wants to simply put a bullet in the man's head, while Bigby Wolf is looking for a less extreme method of keeping the man from publishing his article. As his big, bad attitude allows Bigby to get his way we see the Fables grab the sleeping reporter and whisk him to the Fables community. We then see Bigby orchestrates a fairly elaborate plan in which he convinces the reporter that he's been placed under their complete control, and as such should he publish the story, they would compel him to kill himself. We then see Bigby added an exact incentive to keep the man silent, as they've created a series of compromising photos that they would circulate to the proper people that would paint the reporter as a pedophile, thus destroying his reputation. Confident that the reporter was spooked enough that the story will never see the light of day we see Bigby lets the man go, and the Fables community looks to be safe from exposure. However, the issue ends with Bluebeard taking action that may very well send Bigby's careful crafted scheme completely off the rails, and endanger the Fables community once again.
The centerpiece of this issue would have to be the growing tension between Bigby Wolf & Bluebeard, and the final page certainly pushes everything in a very interesting direction, as it would appear that Bluebeard has gone out of his way to ignore Bigby Wolf's orders. Plus, given the success of the plan, one has to imagine his primary reason for doing is related to his plan to have Bigby Wolf ousted from his position as the head of security for the community. Now I'm not sure how Bluebeard's actions will act against Bigby Wolf, as frankly he's the most likely suspect, and Bigby Wolf had every reason to believe his plan was working, so he had very little reason to want this man dead. What's more if Bigby Wolf wanted someone dead, he wouldn't need a gun. However, I guess Bluebeard could've been acting entirely out of spite, and the only reason he killed the man was because Bigby Wolf had ordered him not to. Still, I can't help but think that Bluebeard's actions have set something big into motion, and in the end the two characters are going to end up in a confrontation where only one of them walks away. Now clearly I would prefer Bigby Wolf to be the one who survives, and I'm not sure he could even be killed, as the Big Bad Wolf remains one of the most popular fable characters, while Bluebeard only has a Charlie Chaplin movie in his corner.
As for the cunning plan that is brought into play to silence the investigative reporter who was all set to write up an exposť on the Fable community, I loved how Bill Willingham brought various aspects of the Fable Community into play, with the ever youthful Pinocchio being given a particularly clever role to play. I also enjoyed how Bigby Wolf happily played up the whole vampire community angle that the reporter had pieced together, and the amusing, but entirely convincing way that he uses it to make the reporter back away from his story like there was no tomorrow. There's also some fun side elements such as Prince Charming being unable to wake Briar Rose up because her curse stipulates that the prince who kisses her has to truly love her. The book also has some fun with the idea that the Fables community is lettered with princes, though some of them might not exactly be the type a sleeping beauty would want to wake up to. I also loved the way that Prince Charming latched onto the idea that Briar Rose was operating under another spell that effectively ensured that she would always be rich, which in turn makes her the ideal target for his parasitic life style. In fact I loved the scene where he manages to twist events around so he ends up looking like the knight in shining armor who is riding to her aid.
Lan Medina is a very solid artist, who possesses the ability to mix the reality of the real world, with the fantasy elements that the Fables bring to the book. Now in this issue, the more fantastic elements are implied, so there really isn't much for the art to detail, but we do get a look at the thorn bush that has sprung to life outside the apartment, and Bluebeard getting a good washing from his house troll was a nice, surreal moment. The art also does some solid work when it comes to the facial expressions, as one has to love Briar Rose's expression after she is woken up, and during the flashback scene one has to love how the art captures the thoughts that are making their way through Prince Charming's mind. The expression on the reporter's face when he looks at the photos that were taken of him also do a wonderful job of suggesting the rather explicate nature of the shots, and the panic we see on the man's face is quite convincingly contrasted by Bigby Wolf's sinister expression. The last page of this issue is also a solid display of mood as one can't help but feel a chill down the spine when you see what Bluebeard has done. My only quibble about this book's art, is that while I love the cover designs, I've decided not to study them until after I've read the issue, as they effectively spoil the surprises of the story if you do examine them.
A pretty entertaining issue and I highly recommend this two issue arc as an ideal jumping on point for readers who have yet to discover this series, as it pretty much encapsulates all the charming aspects that has made this title one of my favorites. Bill Willingham does a wonderful job of mixing the elements of the fairy tale realms with modern day civilization, and while there are times when I do think the book could use a character profile page, similar to the ones we see in "Queen and Country", I will concede that there is a certain appeal to tracking down the fables that these characters sprung from, and Bill Willingham does a pretty solid job laying out the various rules of the game, so to speak. Plus, he also displays a wonderful sense of imagination in how he incorporates the fairy tale elements, as Bigby's plan for dealing with the reporter is full of clever little touches. This issue also nicely steps up the tension that was introduced in the first arc, as Bluebeard & Bigby Wolf have a fairly heated conversation in this issue.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!