"The Long, Hard Fall"
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists: Mark Buckingham (p), Steve Leialoha (i)
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
As Snow prepares to move up to the Farm, we see Bigby isn't exactly pleased that Snow is taking his children to the one place that he's not allowed to go. We also see the Fable Community is undergoing a bit of an upheaval, as Prince Charming takes over as the new mayor, while Snow and Bigby's jobs are taken over by the Beauty and the Beast. Meanwhile, Blue embarks on a dangerous mission back into the Homelands.
All monthly series should be forced to undergo a good shake-up of their status quo every few years, and Bill Willingham certainly give this title a good shake with this issue, as pretty much all the major players are sent spiralling off in different directions. I mean Bigby Wolf is back to being a rogue element as he's replaced as the town sheriff by the Beast, who in turn doesn't quite seem to be up to the task of filling Bigby's shoes, and it should be fun watching him adjust to his new role. We also have Snow moving up to the Farm, which of course creates a nice moment of tension as we see Bigby makes it clear that the Big, Bad Wolf is not going to be an absentee father, and I can't wait for the story when he makes his first visit to the Farm. It should also be interesting to see how the Farm population react to the idea that Snow's children are the offspring of Bigby. I can see many of them start thinking that perhaps the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and I expect Snow will become even more resented if they should learn that these children are a Big, Bad Wolf magnet. There's also a great little side plot involving Blue deciding to travel back to the Homelands on a rescue mission, and I can't wait for this idea to move on to centre stage, as if nothing else it'll give us our first look at the Homelands in the present day. The revelation that the Adversary is fearful of mundy technology is also rather interesting, though I'm not sure if this is a clue about his/her identity.
Mark Buckingham is a perfect match for this title, and since I've always been a big fan of his work I'm delighted to see him land on a title where his art is so well suited to the material. From his delivery of some of the most endearing panel designs in the industry, to his ability to deliver the material in a clear, easy-to-follow fashion, I can't sing his praises highly enough. I mean there's some fine little visual moments that I have to make mention of, from sheer oddity that the floating infants provide, to the great little visual summation of Snow and Bigby's relationship that is offered up by the little image that sits on top of the pages where the two have their argument, that art knows how to convey the material. There's also a number of great little moments, such as Old King Cole's deflated appearance as he leaves his apartment, or the deeply unsettling final page appearance of Colin.
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