It’s been a long-time coming, and now, finally, the 100th issue of Fables has come out. Boy, does it not pull any punches!
First off, your main story is 60+ pages long and features one of the largest battles to ever grace the series. The final confrontation between Mister Dark (Duladan) and Bellflower (Frau Totenkinder) carries the large brunt of the story. And, for the most part, it’s very inventive. Unfortunately, for me, I feel like Buckingham’s pencils are more convincing during the quieter moments of the series rather than the action parts. Nevertheless, he still delivers a very inventive fight scene. My favorite part was watching Mister Dark’s body become more and more primal and shapeshift as he became weaker and weaker. Plus, the losing of the teeth was nothing short of classic and a great nod to Frau’s past.
There are a couple of stops throughout the issue as we occasionally take a glance back at the Farm where Beauty begins going into labor early while Beast freaks out (naturally, of course). By the end, you’re set up with a new status quo and a very interesting direction. It seems like with issue #101, new readers will find it not too difficult to jump on.
My two primary concerns with the main story both rely on the representation of women. First off, Mrs. Spratt, the balloon-shaped nurse who has a chip on her shoulder comes off as rather flat. Yet, by the end of the comic, she seems to suddenly don a gigantic role in the future of the Fabletown folk (for good or bad). Her characterization is just flawed throughout, and Snow’s reasoning with her isn’t very believable and kind of generally insulting. Snow admits to being a bitch in the past… as she’s being a bitch. That just doesn’t make sense.
Secondly, I know Kelly Thompson (here’s her latest post that has absolutely nothing to do with Fables) has had issue with the representation of Frau Totenkinder. The character began as an old lady who knit a lot and just happened to be secretly the strongest and most powerful character in the entire series. However, in order for her to become even more powerful, she had to shed her exterior and return to her true form… which just happened to be a young, beautiful woman. Now, in this issue, she continues to mention her plans to move away to never return to the Fable heroes because, well, because she has FOUND THE BLISS OF MARRIAGE. It’s the typical move in which a character becomes satisfied by simply being married off. On one hand, you can argue that this happened to Snow (although, I still believe that she’s just as powerful of a character but the focus has shifted). However, it’s still a disappointing turn. Now, for that to actually happen or be seen, you have to read the actual comic.
So, that was the main part of the story. However, this comic cost $10 and is large enough to earn a place on my bookshelf, and that’s because of all of the extra content. You have a prose story written by Mark Buckingham (the usual artist of the series) and drawn by Bill Willingham (the writer of the series) that’s kind of a nice departure. Then some short stories. And then a “Burning Questions” section that’s been seen in the series before. However, these burning questions come from celebrities and they’re not particularly interesting. I would have preferred for them to come from actual fans. Nevertheless, they get some big talent (Adam Hughes and J.H. Williams III) to illustrate some of them.
Overall, you get paper doll cut out figures, a board game, some short stories, and a gigantic lead story all for $10. For that price, it’s definitely worth it even with my little qualms.