Friday, February 15, 2013

Fables 18 - Cubs in Toyland

As I said in my review of Fables 17 - Inherit the Wind I felt that there wasn't a lot of substance or content to that collection. Right from the start I thought one of those problems wasn't there in Fables 18 - Cubs in Toyland. Maybe it's my imagination, but it looked a good deal thicker than it's predecessor.

The rest of the story threads (Bufkin in Oz, Beast and Beauty's child, even what Dark's apprentice Mrs Spratt is plotting) took a back story to what was happening with Bigby and Snow's cubs.

One of the cubs; Winter, has been chosen as her grandfather: The North Wind's successor. That leaves Snow at home with the others while Bigby tries to help his daughter deal with her new life and powers.

Most of the kids take Winter's elevation in their stride, all except for Therese, who is the most like her mother in manner, if not necessarily appearance and Darien, who is most like his father. Therese is the 'princess' of the family, why wasn't she chosen to be a 'queen' in the way Winter was, and Darien is the adventurer, the hero, surely he should have inherited the mantle of The North Wind?

Therese listens to a toy tugboat that was a present at Christmas. Toys in the Fableverse can talk and frequently do, but this one shouldn't have, however it did to Therese. Feeling left out and let down Therese takes the boat on a journey and finds herself in the world of damaged toys. They have chosen Therese to be their Queen and restore them to how they were before they were damaged. Therese has always wanted to be a Queen, but now she finds out that being a Queen in a broken land isn't quite what she wanted, not to mention that most of her subjects as well as being damaged are quite possibly evil.

Darien is the one who sees Therese go off on her own and follows her. He finds that some of his own toys are allies where Therese has gone. Of particular use will be the mechanical tiger Lord Mountbatten. There is a battle between Therese's subjects, who want to hang on to her at any cost, and Darien and his allies who want her to come back home.

It will eventually come down to one of the cubs making a sacrifice for the other. Suffice to say it is heartbreaking and brilliantly written by Willingham and pictured by Mark Buckingham, who just never misses a beat illustrating Bill Willingham's words.

I didn't see the ending coming and it was quite a shock. It will have repercussions for the rest of the Fables going forward.

Also included are a two part story about Bigby's past written by his son Ambrose. It was a clever story and it had a nice twist at the ending. Although Mark Buckingham is really the only guy who can ever do Fables artwork properly Gene Ha does a good job in The Destiny Game.

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