Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Aaron Alexovich
Publisher: DC Comics
I didn’t like Fables #64.
It’s no big deal; after five years of Fables, this has only happened twice.
But what’s particularly troubling about this issue is that its shortcomings detract from what has been a long-awaited event that should have been a highpoint in the series.
I don’t want to get into spoilers here, but, well… look, if you see the cover and you can count, you should easily deduce what happens in this issue. So be warned: There be spoilers here.
In this issue, Snow and Bigby’s cubs celebrate their fifth birthday, and their parents decide this is the occasion to tell them about Ghost, their invisible sibling. They then swear the cubs to secrecy so that they don’t end up in prison.
All this happens just pages after we were reminded once again how mischievous the cubs are, how frequently, and often inadvertently, they break the rules.
So why would Snow and Bigby share such a dangerous secret with these kids?
Okay, so the impact of the big Ghost reveal was diminished because it stretched credibility, but there was also the problem of Alexovich’s art. It’s in that pseudo-manga style that seems to be all the rage these days – much to my chagrin. That’s all well and fine for some comics, but the Ghost reveal was an important Fables event that we fans have been waiting a long time for, and it should have had an emotional gravity that just can’t be conveyed by this Dragonball-Z-lite-style art. Sure, Mark Buckingham has a cartoony style, but it has a sort of underlying realism that can convey a sense of emotional gravitas missing here.
Finally, artwork aside, this just wasn’t the time for this story. In the midst of a major storyline, this detour came off like a letdown, a disappointment. Had the Ghost reveal been given its due – made a major event, not an interruption in a story arc – that flowed logically and was illustrated by Buckingham or an otherwise suitable artist, this might have been a nice surprise. As it is, it made what should have been a major event in Fables seem like an afterthought.
The moral of this story: if you’re going to make us wait for our dessert, make sure it is worth the wait.
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