Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fables 16 - Super Team

I made Fables 16 - Super Team my Christmas present to myself and my wife. I could hardly contain myself until Christmas Day and after so I could get a few quiet moments to dive in to it and reacquaint myself with my friends from Fabletown and the Farm, even Haven.

When we last left the Fables they were still under threat from the evil Mr Dark and had not been able to retake Fabletown from the all powerful sorceror.

The opening issue of this collection actually doesn't cover the Fables preparing to take on Dark again from the Farm and Haven, but those still in the Woodland building, mainly the winged monkey; Bufkin. This particular bit was written by Bill Willingham, but drawn by Eric Shanower. I was familiar with Shanower's writing, as he wrote the two Oz comic collections, that I purchased at Worldcon. The only experience I really had of his artwork were the sketches he did in the books when I bought them, and he was gracious enough to sign them for me and doodle in them. His art is excellent. In this story I believe he's even better than regular artist Mark Buckingham. The story itself is about Bufkin climbing the tree in the Woodlands building to try and get home. However home for him is Oz, not Fabletown outside the building. Who knows what could happen from here on in, with Bufkin anything is possible. I also loved the inclusion of his stowaway sidekick, the Lillputian Lily Martagon.

The main part of the book is about how the Fables plan to take on Mr Dark. Flycatcher from his kingdom of Haven is managing to hold Dark back, but he weakens every day and the strain is taking it's toll. Meanwhile back at the Farm, Pinnochio has taken to getting about in a wheelchair for effect while he puts together his Fables Super Team, with the help of Super Witch...sorry Ozma. Nearly every Fable on the Farm, including one of Bo Peep's sheep; Bonny Lamb (her power is being cute), try out for the team. It becomes rather farcical until Ozma takes charge, and puts a real team together. They have the troll Grinder for muscle, Flycatcher in a magical suit of armour crafted by Weyland Smith, the badger formerly known as Stinky, now called Brock Blueheart wielding some sort of mystical blue energy formed from his faith in the cult of Boy Blue that he's begun. Ozma in her guise as Super Witch and The Green Witch (she hasn't yet been named, although Willingham has hinted that she may be Morgana Le Fay) provide magical power and Bigby Wolf has put on spandex and calls himself Werewolf Man (possibly one of the stupidest superhero names I have ever heard), Clara the dragon/crow has her fire and even Thumbelina known as Tiny Titan can come in handy, although she initially makes the team because Pinnoch...sorry Professor F, wanted a tiny person on the team as it's traditional. Interestingly enough readers never actually see the team in action against Dark, except for a story about a possible outcome told by Pinnochio. Dark does get into a major fight, but it involves Bigby's father; the North Wind, not the Fables, and that may also resolve another long running storyline in the book.

There are a few side stories running throughout Super Team, although the superhero comic parody does take up the bulk of the book. One concerns Beauty and the Beast, the loss of the Beast's power and what exactly their child; Bliss, is. Another is Mrs Spratt, who went to the dark side, and was being groomed by Dark as his wife. The former Adversary; Gepetto, hasn't gone away either and he's scheming to retake his power, as well. One possible side story that they may explore is a growing attraction between Pinnochio and Ozma, although I think this is mainly from the ex puppet than the child like witch, she did after all threaten him with dire consequences if he ever called her 'babe' again after he slipped while forming their team.

The final story in the book with pencils by Terry Moore, is about Sleeping Beauty and what has happened in the old Imperial capital since the sleeping princess put it to sleep permanently. There's a power struggle there and it may have implications for the Fables in general.

Interestingly enough despite my love of Mark Buckingham's work on Fables, I felt Eric Shanower's story was the best drawn. Buckingham in this one seemed a little sketchy and he drew Snow as less attractive than she used to be, There was a flatness that I haven't seen before. Maybe it was just because I was so impressed with Shanower's work and I've just come off Danger Girl by J. Scott Campbell which was drawn absolutely sumptously and beautifully presented.

A bit is resolved in Fables 16 - Super Team, but there's more than enough to go on with for 17, hopefully out early in 2012. I'll be lining up when it hits the shelves.

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