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Jack of Fables #19

Posted: Monday, February 4, 2008
By: Jon Judy

Matthew Sturges & Bill Willingham
Russ Braun & Andrew Pepoy
Vertigo / DC
“On the Road”

God, I wish I could like this book.

Sturges and Willingham are certainly more than competent writers, and the art is terrific – it’s simple and fun, which suits this book perfectly.

But I just can’t seem to enjoy it.

Issue after issue, there is something that lets me down. In the case of issue #19, it’s the many undeveloped scenes and the rambling, disjointed nature of the narrative.

Yes, I know, who am I to complain about something being rambling? Ironic, no? Yes, I know, that’s like the fourth time I’ve used the word “ironic” incorrectly in one of these reviews, and I teach literature classes. Ironic, no? Five times.

Anyway, in this issue Jack and company flee from the Bookburner’s minions, playing the fugitives all across Americana. We then see quick glimpses of places like Gangland – a hangout for made men and their molls – and The Colonies, where the Salem Witch Trials are still going on.

In the process, the writers dispense with logic whenever necessary to create obstacles for the protagonists or make a joke. Hence Gary can not control the guns of Bookburner’s cops because they are fable guns and not mundy guns, but he can order around the bootleg bottles in Gangland, because their bottles are apparently imported from the Mundy world.

The real problem is the rapid-fire cutting from one fableland to another, with no sense of a real story to bridge the jumps, no exploration of how the characters got there or how they got out. That would be fine if the quick vignettes were truly laugh-out-loud funny – Ambush Bug (Yay! He’s coming back!), for example, jumped Loony-Tunes-like from scene to scene at times, but it was hilarious. Here the humor consists of things like Hillary, wearing a flowing, Scarlet-O’Hara-like dress, falling down in the first panel of their visit to the Antebellum South Fableland, with Humpty exclaiming “I have seen the promised land!” in the second and final panel of that stop on their trip.

Hardy. Har.

I didn’t pay $2.99 for a bunch of weak, disconnected, random jokes. If I wanted that, I could get it for free this Tuesday, Feb. 5th, when I make my long-awaited return to standup comedy at the Cleveland Improv. Mention my name at the door and get in for a buck. Show starts at 7:30.

Where was I before the cheap plug?

Oh, yeah. This unfunny, random-scene-laden issue. In all, the group visits seven fablelands in 22 pages, only to end up with Jack and friends finding the Lost City and the promise that we will get to see it next issue. In other words, this issue did nothing to advance the overall story arc, it simply filled up space between Hillary meeting her father and the group getting to the gold.

So if lame jokes are your thing and you don’t mind a story that does nothing to benefit the protagonists or their tale, this one is for you.

And if lame jokes are your thing and you’ll be in the Cleveland, Ohio, area Tuesday night, come on down to the Improv.



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