“The Good Prince” (part 6)
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist(s): Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha
Publisher: DC / Vertigo
Once upon a time there was a comic book reviewer who had no idea how to critique a comic he had just read. On one hand, this comic had been a consistently good read for more than five years, and had only recently begun to show signs of, well, mediocrity. So shouldn’t he give this particular mediocre issue a half-hearted recommendation?
On the other hand, that was exactly what he had done in his two previous reviews for this title, in both instances justifying his recommendation with the assurance to his readers that, surely, subsequent issues would be better.
And then this…the sixth in a mediocre series. In short, the reviewer had been wrong.
So if he were to extend a half-hearted recommendation this time, wouldn’t it be damaging to whatever credibility he had? But how could he not recommend this issue? Despite the lackluster storytelling and the implausible plot devices, some major events came to pass, events which would clearly, for better or worse, be important in the future of this fine book. And despite the mediocre streak the title had been enduring – or, perhaps it is better to say, that its readers had been enduring – it was still so much better than the vast majority of the titles on the market. Shouldn’t he lend his support, especially in this time of need?
And so he played a few hands of freecell and solitaire, and wrote a few emails, and then wrote one email to his former best friend and almost sent it before he came to his senses, and then he cruised TMZ for awhile and felt guilty for finding such mindless crap amusing, and then he spoke thus to himself:
“To hell with it. I’ll just tell it like it is.”
And so he resolved to review the book honestly – to say it was, as was usually the case, visually pleasing, from the expressive, lively characters to the detailed-but-not-distracting backgrounds to the whimsical decorations between panels and in the page margins. Further, he would tell his readers that – and here he must warn them of spoilers – there were deaths in this issue, and a cliffhanger that promised yet more dying, so regular readers would want to be sure they picked this one up. But he must also warn them, and again spoilers would lie ahead, that so much of the story simply made no sense. Why would Fly welcome supplies from Fabletown, then turn down their military help? Why would he refuse to fight by their side? This excuse he offers – because the magic he is using is too delicate for him to take sides – rings conveniently hallow, as though it is simply a way for the writer to maintain the story’s central conflict by denying the Fables a powerful ally.
And he looked upon this assessment and concluded that this was an issue vital for regular readers, but because of the logical lapses in characters’ actions, he simply could not recommend it to the masses. But he would implore them to check out trades of the series if they had not already, and to give the book a chance in future months. For surely they would enjoy those excellent stories of the past, and surely there will be more excellent stories to come, and if this fine comic can dig itself out of this spiral of mediocrity, then those who come along for the ride might live happily ever after.
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