Last time, I talked about the power and magic Fables had over me and just how sad it is to see it go. In Part 2, I want to tell you some of my favorites and not so favorites of the series. Check out Part 1 here. And like before, remember there are some spoilers!
Favorite – “Storybook Love” – Fables had definitely already proven its intelligence by now but this was the first story from them that I thought brought the charm into the series. It was defined as a series, so introducing new faces was getting easier for them and expanding on the limited lore became effortless. The most special part of this arc is the complete game changer this has on the rest of the series. This isn’t some ripple in the pond; this is a full blown explosion of story! Bluebeard, a renowned villain to us and Fabletown, is sick of Snow White and Bigby always getting in his way. Instead of hatching some outlandish plan to kill them, he calculates their removal. We see his true cunning. We also see the first flirtations between Snow and Bigby.
“Jack Be Nimble” – This story line is what created the very first spin-off of Fables, Jack of Fables. It’s without a doubt the best Jack story of them all. Fables are long lasting, living for hundreds of years, but to do that, they must stay fresh in the minds of Mundies (mundanes, or, you know, normal human, us people). The more famous the Fable, the more immortal they are. Jack, fully recognizing that he needs to secure his place in the world, moves to Hollywood and convinces studios to make an epic trilogy about Jack’s adventures. His selfish mindset is both annoying and impressive. As you’re reading it, you can’t believe that people are falling for his bull, but it’s just so well done that you fall for it too.
Not so Favorite – “The Dark Ages” – The first story arc after the wrap up of the war against The Adversary was not that impressive. It’s all because of the villain, Mister Dark (not his original name, he had many over the centuries, but his current alias was just a little silly for me). He was powerful and terrifying and drawn spectacularly…but, he wasn’t The Adversary. I’m recalling the story, really trying to figure out if that is my fault for not being able to move on just yet, or if writing about one villain for 75 issues could easily create this problem for a lot of readers. I refuse to choose between the two and calling it a muddled gray area for the time being. Mister Dark’s story definitely improved as it continued, his character being expanded on and more intense, making his exit much more likable than his entrance.
Cinderella – I love her character. Cinderella is an outright, in your face, no apologies badass. She’s the type of hero that you want to read about. Early in the series, you find out her frivolous life style is merely a front for her level of intelligence and skills. She’s actually a secret Fabletown spy, carrying out covert missions when the town needs her the most. Her character was so popular, they gave her a spin-off story detailing one of these crazy adventures, Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love. Then, when that was selling out, they made a sequel which was equally as great, Cinderella: Fables are Forever. Being the only female Fable to get her own book was a huge deal and the two stories are some of the few I reread.
Mowgli – This incarnation of the little jungle boy was greatly compelling. He was one of three men called The Tourists, a small group tasked by Bigby to watch over Fables that chose not to live in Fabletown or the Farm (for context, the Farm is a large area in upstate New York where non-human looking Fables can live.) His main story is one where Prince Charming tasks him with hunting down Bigby since his departure from Fabletown. While he’s not a prominent character, this story sticks out in my head because of the perfect dialogue and characterization Mowgli had. I would have loved to see more of him.
Pinocchio – I really disliked this guy. He was supposed to be hilarious and a little tragic (not going to say why; deal with it), but he came off as an irritating nuisance to the stories. The gimmick of him remaining a “real boy” and never growing into a “real man” ran thin for me. I was very happy when his character wasn’t as necessary to the plot beginning somewhere around issue 80. I will say that he did receive a charming finale.
Max Piper – You’ll never find Max Piper in the actual Fables comic, but you have heard of him. More famously, Max is the Pied Piper who lead all the children of Hamelin to their deaths. He is the main villain in the novel Peter and Max: A Fables Novel and he’s fantastic. He has the strong motivation of being the jilted eldest Piper brother, slowly tearing a family apart after being denied his inheritance. I loved the concept so much because, quite often, villains get more and more separated from the protagonists, and this keeps the conflict directly related to the entire Piper family. It’s creates the complexities of loving the villain so much because of how evil he is. You don’t want him to succeed, but at the same time, you don’t want to see him go either.
Hansel – Did you sit through that awful Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters film? I’m so sorry. To wash that taste out of your mouth, read about Hansel in Fables. When he arrives with Gretel in Fabletown, he becomes vehemently angry with some of the population (you see, Fabletown allowed anyone in that signed the Amnesty Pact; how else do you explain the big bad wolf being a sheriff?); he immediately left Gretel behind and partook in the mundane world’s witch trials. Globally, he was revered for his cruelty and unforgiving nature towards “witches.” When he returns to Fabletown, he cements his role as villain among the Fables as well, leaving everyone in Fabletown leery of his presence in the world.
Frau Totenkinder – She’s frightening, I will give her that. But she’s in everything. The writers used this character as every bad witch, sorceress, evil doer in every story. We get it, she’s bad. I can’t really blame the Fabletown citizens for fearing someone that terrorized such a large chunk of the population at some point. They built her up with ultimate power and wide connections and an ambiguous sense of loyalty. In the beginning, it made for an interesting addition to the ensemble, but her shtick played out fast. She wasn’t as compelling as the other villains, and was never convicted enough to be your favorite hero. If she had been dialed back a bit, I’d love her.
Life and Death
The most major of the spoilers follow, so just keep scrolling if you’d like to be surprised.
The Cubs – One of the most interesting parts of the story altogether were the children of Bigby and Snow, better known as the cubs. Usually a sign of low ratings and a last minute effort to make something successful, the introduction of children generally mean the death of the project. Instead, the cubs brought a new facet to both Bigby and Snow’s characters. Their personalities and positions in the comic didn’t change, but merely grew from this new experience. It was like the writers actually knew that children in real life don’t destroy your previous self, but merely add a different dimension to them. Each of them equally developed into interesting characters to watch as well. There was one moment in particular that kept me reading to find out what becomes of them, and that, was the prophecy Ozma gives to little Ambrose. It stuck with me so much that each book I opened, I wanted one of the questions to be answered. I’ll just leave it here so it can intrigue you enough to read it as well!
The first child will be a king
The second child a pauper
The third child will do an evil thing
The fourth will die to stop her
The fifth will be a hero bold
The sixth will judge the rest
The seventh lives to ages old, and is by heaven blessed
Boy Blue – Out of all the deaths in the comic, Boy Blue’s is by far the saddest. Why? Because he’s completely noble throughout the book. Because he’s never smug or arrogant, he’s never too perfect for you to trust; Boy Blue is from the start, the kind of person you want in your life. He is everyone’s best friend, including the readers. He’s beautifully flawed, so you want him to succeed. And when he takes it upon himself to face The Adversary’s forces, sacrificing himself, your heart breaks in two. The absolute worst part about it: he doesn’t come back like the others. He’s no Prince Charming, no Jack of all Fables. He dies and he stays dead and both the Fables and readers mourn.
Santa – This was just a cute nod to the readers. It is an American tradition to believe in Santa Claus and then come to the realization that he doesn’t exist and it’s the hopeful spirit in the legend that is important, not the existence of the man himself. So throwing this character into the mix, appearing maybe 3 or 4 times throughout the entire series, was, for lack of better terms, cute. He was even included as one of the paladins for Hope (a Fable herself), giving his character just a little more substance.
Wizard of Oz – The Golden Boughs Retirement home was a prison for Fables and had quite the assortment of characters. My favorite of them all was the majority of the Wizard of Oz cast. Kidnapped and memory wiped, Tin Man, Lion, Toto, and Dorothy all lived in this horrific place for literary characters. While most of her cohorts are seemingly forgotten, Dorothy’s character gets expanded on in the Cinderella book, Fables are Forever, proving to everyone that she was never the innocent little girl from Kansas.
That’s it for now; stay tuned next week for the exciting conclusion to the Fables dedication, when I talk even more about a comic you’ve never read!
Continue to Part 3.