Spoilers for Fables’ War and Pieces Tradepaperback #11 by Bill Willingham
I’ve been following the Fables series for a quite a while now. Just never really got around to writing about, except in talking about my love of Snow White. Fables is a story that I like to read in tradepaperback as I always want more of it right away. So please don’t spoil me for any further developments in Fabletown.
The War Against the Adversary
This trade marks the end of the biggest Fables‘ plotline: the war against the Adversary. Also 75 issues is a pretty good run of any comic book. Willingham realizes both these things, and he doesn’t fail to deliver a good ending to the battle. I found the ending extremely satisfying, which I find rare in long battle stories. Usually, the writer suffers from fatigue or there’s a bunch of bang, bang and it’s all done.
Using Boy Blue as the POV for covering the three fronts of war — The Glory of Baghdad Airship, Briar Rose’s room, and Fort Bravo — and two planning centers — Fabletown and Wolf Manor — works well. Not only is the cloak a powerful tool for transport. But Boy Blue serves a great narrator as he’s away from the battle, yet an integral part of it. Plus, since he’s the most vulnerable to getting capture, he is as surprised as the reader at some of the plot’s turns.
Willingham does well with his pacing. He has Fabletown kicking some solid ass. They have a great plan, put it in motion, and are a well-oiled machine in exploiting the Adversary’s greatest weakness, his lack of mundy weapons and know-how about them.
Then some things go wrong. They start losing. But in the end, they win. The good guys always win. This is good plotting and excellent pacing. Well done. Even if Bigby as war hero is completely predictable and a tad Mary Sue-ish as a lot of Bigby’s plots are.
I love the forgiveness to Gepetto. Even if they don’t trust him and they don’t like and he doesn’t like them. It fits so well with the Fables’ stories as they’ve forgiven each other over so much. I also think it’s a great message about war and how when it ends, we all must work together.
Cindy: Super Spy
I love Cindy as Super Spy. I love that she’s doing a job. She doesn’t really care about Pinocchio, but sees finding and rescuing him as a good for the bigger picture of the war.
I’m glad the Adversary sent Hans after her and Pinocchio. Those human mercenaries were just too easy for Cindy and her training, plus super strength, to take them out. It was excellent to see her saving the day, while being stylish all the same. And kicking butt with her broken arm.
It can be argued that Cindy does more dirty work than anyone else. One of the many things that I love about Fables.
Bill Willingham certainly had some incredible issues of cultural appropriation concerning his portrayal of the Arabian Fables. While, I don’t think his portrayal of them is perfect, I do think that he has listened and worked on changing his approach. Though Sinbad is still very Westernized and the women still very harem-ized. Or, at least, I have not seen any women who aren’t in veils with belly-shirts and matching Hammer pants.
In some ways, Prince Charming’s constant congratulations to Sinbad for the Glory of Baghdad Airship sounds a little like Willingham saying, “I’m sorry” over and over. But it is nice to see the Arabian Fables praised, especially for technology, instead of treated like backward barbarians. It’s also great that Sinbad gets an official place in the War Council. I also think naming the ship, the Glory of Baghdad is particularly awesome, especially given how the current, constant negativity surrounding Iraq we modern Western mundies hear from our media.
While this certain arc plays out to the redemption of the white boy, Prince Charming, I do see Captain Sinbad as the Spock to his Kirk. And let’s face it, I’ve always preferred Spock. I hope that Captain Sinbad in some ways takes Prince Charming’s role in Fabletown’s structure (though he also has the Arabian Fablelands to rule). It would be fun to have an Arabian Fable spin-off, but I don’t think Willingham would be the best writer for it.
While Willingham ties up most things, he leaves a few things unraveled. Briar Rose is still trapped in her slumber, and we don’t know who loves her. The Snow Queen will have to be dealt with once she’s woken up. (I love the Snow Queen, and kind of hope that she’ll still be on whatever evil they’ll be fighting against now.) There’s also those in the death lands like Baba Yaga, which I don’t think Willingham is just going to throw away; especially since it’s proved she can come back.
Of course, Willingham’s note at the end and Boy Blue’s warning about the naivete of Immortal Fables sets it up that something bad is going to happen. I can’t wait to read about it.