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Fables #17

Posted: Tuesday, September 16, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists: Mark Buckingham (p), Steve Leialoha (i)

Publisher: Vertigo Comics

Plot:
As Bigby Wolf & Snow White deal with the psychotic Goldilocks in a rather spectacular fashion, we see events back in Fabletown take an unexpected turn as not only does Prince Charming manage to avoid punishment for killing Bluebeard, but we see his more devious side rises to the surface. Meanwhile, Snow returns to Fabletown to receive an unexpected surprise.

Comments:
A fairly action intensive final chapter, in which the Wolf proves that his bite is decidedly less impressive than his bark, as his big plan for dealing with Goldilocks appears to have been to present a big imposing target that she can empty her gun into. Now, I will concede that the opening scene is a pretty solid display of Bigby's ability to take a considerable amount of punishment, but I must confess I was a little disappointed by his less than impressive performance. Than again this poor performance does allow Snow to deliver a little payback, as there's a wonderful gruesome moment where we see Snow buries a hatchet into the back of Goldilocks head, and in a moment of dark comedy we see Goldilocks is a bit like the headless chicken, as she stumbles her way around with Snow's weapon buried in her head. Goldilock's final moments also play out a bit like a R rated version of the Roadrunner cartoon, with that final shot where she is blasted by the speeding truck being particularly reminiscent. There's also some solid material playing out back in Fabletown as we see Prince Charming's act of heroism wasn't entirely what it appeared to be, and that in a certain sense he's almost as bad as Bluebeard himself when it comes to his plotting and scheming. However, the real surprise of this issue plays out in the final pages as we see Snow & Bigby Wolf's relationship takes a wholly unexpected turn.

As for the art, Mark Buckingham's work is at its best when it's delivering the over-the-top violence of Goldilock's grisly end, as there's several standout visuals, from the panel where we see Snow actually used the hatchet, to Goldilock's smashing encounter with the speeding logging truck. I also can't help but notice the cover image to this issue offers up a nice little visual teaser of the big surprise inside (Snow's belt buckle), which further reinforces my resolve to never look too closely at the covers to this series, until I've read the story inside.

Final Word:
I don't want to spoil the big surprise for anyone, but I will say that this development acts as further proof that this series is far and away one of the best for springing unexpected moments on the readers. From the plot twist in the opening murder investigation arc, to the follow-up arc where Snow had half of her head blown apart by a sniper's bullet, Bill Willingham has continually impressed me with the ease at which he's able to deliver these big impact moments, without tipping his hand too early. In any event, this is a very strong closing chapter, as Goldilocks is done away with in a very dramatic, and somewhat comical manner, while back in Fabletown, Prince Charming is slowly revealing himself to be far more than meets the eye. In fact thanks in large part to his almost casual maneuvering of what could've been a rather sticky situation, I have a newfound respect for the character's intelligence, and I think he could be very dangerous with his seeming aspirations for more power and influence within the community.



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