Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fables: The Mean Seasons

After the breakneck pace and the many story developments that took place in March of the Wooden Soldiers, Fables readers needed a collection that would allow them to calm down a little, but still advance the plot.

The Mean Seasons is a collection of 7 issues, a one shot featuring Cinderella, a 2 issue story about Bigby and the title story The Mean Seasons which runs over 4 issues, each one representative of one of the seasons of the year, in that it's the Fables story that has taken place over the longest period of time.

The Cinderella story, Cinderella Libertine was something to show that the former princess and now shoe store proprietor is more than just an airhead. She uses her feminine wiles to entrap Ichabod Crane, who was prepared to sell the Fables out to the Adversary if the price was right. Cindy seems to be one of Bigby's 'tourists', special agents that he uses to help him control those Fables that choose to live in the Mundy world. It was a fluffy little piece, it was actually published in the middle of the March of the Wooden Soldiers, but I could see why it had been placed differently, it would have spoiled the continuity of the earlier collection.

The 2 issues featuring Bigby were about one of the missions he undertook for the Allies during WW2 and how he prevented the Nazis from developing an army of Frankenstein monsters to unleash against Allied forces. There was another Fable in it called Harp, I'm not sure if he was a troll or a goblin under a glamour or the Singing Harp from Jack & The Beanstalk. It was written and drawn in the style of a comic war story, see the 40's Captain Americas or Sub Mariners for an example. Sgt Nick Fury's Howling Commandoes are the same sort of thing as well.

The others were entertaining, but I wanted to know how Snow's pregnancy went and who would be elected Mayor of Fabletown.

Snow ended up having a 'litter' of 6 children or 'cubs'. Given the kids unusual parentage on their father's side, part wolf, part North Wind, they were bound to be a little unusual. They look like a hybrid and they float. They were extremely cute, but their appearance meant that Snow would have to raise them on the Farm. Bigby disagreed with this, and after failing to convince Snow to take the kids and raise them in a secluded forest somewhere, he left Fabletown, possibly for good.

Prince Charming predictably won the election. This caused some problems. Cole was evicted from his penthouse atop the Woodlands building and couldn't understand what he had done to the Fables that they wouldn't vote for him and he did not know what to do with himself now. Charming had made some big promises and he would not be able to keep them all. He knew that Snow and Bigby wouldn't work with him so he gave their jobs to Beauty and the Beast. Blue had left after the battle and taken the Vorpal Sword, the Witching Cloak and Pinocchio (now in wooden puppet form) with him to the Homelands to try and find the real Red Riding Hood. This meant Beauty only had Bufkin the flying monkey to show her the ropes. The monkey tries hard, but he's not particularly reliable, nor is he all that bright. The Beast is thrown in the deep end, having to try and track down Jack, who left with billions from one of Bluebeard's treasure rooms, and deal with a series of unexplained murders in the city. To top it off Charming hasn't been able to deliver on the promise he made to 'glamourise' all the non human members of the Fable community.

Snow enjoys herself at the Farm with her flying children and her sister Rose Red. A card she got from Frau Totenkinder mentioning her seven children puzzles her, because she only has 6 'cubs'. The children's grandfather the North Wind comes to visit and that's when the murders migrate from the city to the Farm. After examining one of the victims; Mary's Little Lamb, the North Wond concludes that it's a zephyr, a rogue wind that finds the breath of humans and animals a delicacy. Snow makes the hardest decision of her life. She leaves her brood with their grandfather and goes to her room. There she has a conversation with her seventh 'child', the zephyr. She sends it away to find Bigby, believing he will know how to deal with it, and breaking her own heart in the process. Just about broke mine, too.

Bill Willingham's pencils were right on the money and I loved the little drawings at the top of each page giving you a hint what was happening in the story. Tony Akins, who I had not previously seen work on Fables, provided the artwork for the other 3 stories. The war story was well done, but I felt that the Cinderella one was a little too sketchy.

I'm almost too sad to pick up the next collection. Note: I said ALMOST.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, didn't really enjoy the 2-part war story. I could see the artistic infuences (as you cited) with the war-comics from years-gone-by, but the story as a whole didn't interest me.

    My favourite was the one with Snow and her move to the Farm with the kiddies. And her relization that the 7th child Frau Totenkinder (evil name BTW...) mentions on her card is the one who is inadvertantly committing the murders & has to send him away was just devestating - i nearly cried...

    Annonymouse on the couch

    (PS> Told you Snow would have puppies!! *laugh*)