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Fables #20

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



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

Publisher: Vertigo Comics

Plot:
As Little Boy Blue discovers that the newest arrival is Little Red Riding Hood we see his delight is quickly crushed when he learns she blames him for getting left behind to the unkind mercies of the Adversary. However, Bigby Wolf is more concerned by the simple fact that Red's was able to escape the Adversary, as he believes her to be a spy, and everything she does including her rejection of Little Boy Blue would seem to confirm this belief.

Comments:
There's a sense that there's more to this story than meets the eye, but I have to say I can't spot where the twist is going to be inserted, as Bill Willingham looks to already revealed his big surprise when it come to Red Riding Hood's big secret. In fact the only twist that would surprise me at this moment is if Red wasn't an agent of the Adversary, because every action she has taken acts to play up theory that Bigby comes up with. This issue also brings a fairly important plot element to the table and that is the idea that there is a gate to the Fablelands open, and in an unexpected revelation we learn the gate in question was sealed by the Adversary's forces and not the Fables. Not only does this revelation mean that it's possible for Bill Willingham to offer up future arcs where our cast might journey to the Fablelands, but with the gate open it's entirely possible the Adversary might very be planning to expand his grip, with Red's opening visit acting to give him a heads up on the world that he's set his sights upon. There's also a fairly solid secondary plot involving Prince Charming and his bid to increase his power within the Fable community, as he's looking to take over as mayor of the community. If nothing else his ability to be incredibly charming to people who don't know him all that well is likely to serve him in good stead, as success in politics is all about making a good first impression with the voters.

As for the art, Mark Buckingham is called upon to deliver an issue that is almost entirely a talking heads affair, which is never an ideal showcase for most artists, but much like Kevin Maguire the highly expressive work that Mark Buckingham offers up does a very convincing job of making one glad that he's the one providing the art. I mean how can one not love the way the art manages to capture Prince Charming's Elmer Gantry style oration as he convinces the group gathered in the candy shop to sign his petition. The scene where Little Boy Blue discovers Little Red Riding Hood is alive is also well handled, as is Red's sudden shift in mood. There's also some fairly cute visuals such as the scene where Red is taught how to drive, or the panel where Hobbes turns back into his true form upon entering the building. My only quibble with the art on this issue was the out-of-focus quality of the cover image, even if it is trying to evoke a Norman Rockwell style look.

Final Word:
This issue is a bit dependent on one having read the "Fables: The Last Castle" one-shot to fully understand Red Riding Hood's reaction to Little Boy Blue is such an important detail, and why it acts to further strengthen Bigby's belief that she's a spy for the Adversary. However, if you're a devoted fan of this series than chances are you were willing to part with the extra money to pick up that one-shot, and if not I trust Bill Willingham isn't going to leave this moment as it stands, as if nothing else Little Boy Blue deserves an opportunity to defend himself from Red's unfair version of how events played out at the Last Castle. Plus, it's also great to see that this book looks to be finally giving the Adversary a more direct role in the pages of this book beyond being the bogeyman that drove our cast out of the Fablelands. The material dealing with Prince Charming's efforts to gain the signatures to run for the office of mayor also makes for an interesting side plot, as if nothing else it gives us a good look at the hot button issues within the Fable community.



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