Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists: Mark Buckingham (p), Steve Leialoha (i)
In the wilds of Northern Canada a young Fable is busy making her way to Fabletown, but her impending arrival could very well be a disaster in the making. Meanwhile back in Fabletown, Snow receives an ominous warning from a departed Fable, but her attention is drawn away by other concerns, such as Prince Charming's efforts to become the new mayor of Fabletown. The issue ends with our mystery Fable arriving in Fabletown where she introduces herself.
While this is the beginning of a new arc, you would be doing yourself a favor if you went out and made yourself familiar with at the very least the previous arc, as this issue is very much dependent on one having prior knowledge of what has gone on before. Now this isn't to say this book has already become a mess of continuity elements only 19 issues into its run, but rather this arc is clearly being written for the fans who have been on board since the train left the station, as several lingering plot threads have all assembled for this arc. What's more Bill Willingham has always demonstrated that if nothing else he's not afraid to take some fairly big risks from a storytelling sense in order to engage the reading audience, and this arc marks the first time that the Adversary has become something more than a background element that was responsible to driving the Fables out of their lands, as the big surprise in this issue involves the arrival of a character who was on the other side of the fence when the Fables set about sealing off all the portals that allowed one to travel back and forth between the two worlds. This in turn would seem to suggest that at least one of these portals has been reopened, which could make for a full blown crisis. This issue also touches base with a couple other intriguing plot threads, as we get a rather unexpected surprise regarding Snow's pregnancy, and Prince Charming's busy hatching a plan that looks like it could turn Fabletown on its ear.
As for the art, Mark Buckingham remains a very welcome sight as this book's semi-regular artist, as his clean, yet highly detailed style perfectly captures the fantasy elements that drive this series. From his innovative panel designs, to the art's ability to deliver the big impact moments with the proper sense of impact (e.g. the bloody aftermath of the goblin attack), the art is more than equal to the task of telling the story. The art also does some fine work filling the backgrounds with engaging details, such as the hall of statues that Flycatcher is busy cleaning, or the fact that Snow wears a little snow flake lapel pin, or that Bigby is never without a cigarette hanging from his mouth. There's also some solid little details like Flycatcher's hat, or the fact that our refugee that arrives of the final page truly looks like she's had a rough go of it to arrive in Fabletown, with her threadbare clothing, and matted hair.
A very solid issue as there's a wealth of interesting ideas brought into play in this issue, from the ominous dream that Snow has that gives her a heads up on an approaching threat to Fabletown, to Prince Charming's efforts to improve his standing in the community, while at the same time playing up his duplicitous nature. Now the most interesting element involves the arrival of a character who was presumed dead, or if nothing else trapped in the Fablelands with the forces of the Adversary to keep her company, so her arrival in Fabletown is a nice shocking twist, and her impending reunion with a mainstay member of the Fable community should make for an interesting little scene. The fact that there are goblins creeping around Northern Canada also puts an ominous spin on this story, as it seems to suggest that there is a portal open, and the forces of the Adversary are making their way through it. We also get a couple solid throwaway moments that flesh out a couple lower tier characters in this book, as Flycatcher has an interesting chat with the magic mirror, and we learn the Fables have some fairly strict rules in place when it comes to the termination of an unwanted pregnancy.
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