Monday, April 26, 2010
Fables: Sons of Empire
There was no way that the Adversary or the Empire would allow Bigby's retaliation and his message to go unanswered and the main story arc of Sons of Empire covers that in 4 chapters.
The action takes place on a number of fronts, so I'll try to cover each one separately.
The Empire call a meeting of their best and brightest in order to plan their attack on the Mundy world. They plan to do it in 4 stages. The first stage will be to visit magically created diseases. The second to use their dragons to scorch the world. The third is for the Snow Queen to give the world a never ending winter. They believe the fourth; famine, will follow on from the first 3. Pinnochio (he was left behind when Blue escaped) is the dissenting voice. It won't take the Fables long to work out what's going on and they'll alert the authorities on Earth and help them find a way to the Homelands, the world's military with it's technological advancement can top anything the Empire can throw at it, they will win and they will take over. While seeing the sense of what the puppet says the Empire still believe that they can do something, so they send Hansel to the Mundy world as an envoy and a spy, to carry out political assassination if he has to. Hansel is all grown up, his experiences as a child have given him a pathological hatred of witches and he was actually expelled from Fabletown for a heinous crime caused by his scarred psyche. He actually dresses rather like a member of the Gestapo and has that same menacing air about him.
While all this is going on in the Homelands different things are happening in Fabletown. Riding Hood ventures out of the Fabletown district and gets herself a stylish haircut and some fashionable clothes. She looks like a real knockout. However when she shows Flycatcher, he becomes extremely embarassed, retreats to the depths of the Woodlands building and promptly turns into a frog!
On the Farm Bigby is asserting his rights as the big wolf in Wolf Valley, it's off limits to anyone other than his family and people he invites, that includes other wolves. He's also actively training his cubs.
Hansel makes his presence and his purpose known to Charming, Beauty and Beast. Once he's left Charming orders large scale surveillance of the ambassador. Bigby is going to have to get involved. At the Farm Rose and Blue take the first tentative steps into a relationship.
Each of the chapters had a little vignette about other Fables we had not yet met. There was one about Rapunzel and the 8 hourly haircuts her curse forces her to have. An amusing little tale about Leland, Prescott and Thaddeus, or as they're better known The Three Blind Mice. The devious Porky Pine and how he gets kisses and even a possible 'thorn' in the Fables side, the writer Kevin Thorn, who knows not is all as it seems on the surface in Fabletown.
The vignettes were done by different artists, they all have distinct styles, but no one can do these characters like Mark Buckingham.
The second main story; Jiminy Christmas was the first genuine Fables Christmas story. The Fables celebrate Christmas, in fact Santa Claus IS a Fable. Rose and Blue use a magic carpet to deliver presents to the cubs and stay the night not long before Christmas. The kids are taken by Rose's Santa Claus stories and Ambrose, the shyest of the cubs gets the short straw and has to risk no presents to see and talk to the great man. As he explains how he can be in many places at once we see his gift to Flycatcher, the shade of his long dead wife kisses him and returns him to human form again.
I wasn't too keen on Father & Son, the two part that ended the collection. The story was fine, but the artwork left a lot to be desired. Michael Allred did not capture the spirit of the characters at all, as it was a Bigby, Snow & cubs story this was disappointing. The actual story itself was largely written from Ambrose's point of view and I think Bill Willingham likes him the most. We found out why there was tension between Bigby and his father and how the Beast was going to get the surveillance he required to keep tabs on Hansel.
This was a feature packed collection and as an extra readers were treated to another series of little vignettes that answered their most burning questions, such as: What is Frau Totenkinder knitting?
Bring on collection #10. I say!