Saturday, March 12, 2005

FABLES #35

... and so Jack's tale ends, for now.

This was an odd story, the same sort of placeholder that the Bigby-in-WWII story was in that it has nothing to do with contemporary Fables history and smells an awful lot like Bill Willingham was killing time until he came up with the plot twist he needed for the 'main' storyline. But while it was sort of kitchy-cute to do it right before Snow's babies were born, it works less well here and is more of a distraction coming so close on the heels of that first tangent.

My initial reaction was to enjoy the story as one of those Con Artist Getting Conned tales and that Jack, once again, has a good idea for a grift that fails in the execution. We've already seen with our Leninite Goldilocks that, for Fables, renown equals strength -- Goldy was simply too famous to die. And for that, Jack's power play was most clever.

But then, as I was out shoveling snow, I started to get questions. Why did it take five years for Beast to track down Jack? The posters for the Jack movies are visible; how anyone in Fabletown could not realize what was up is completely beyond me. I was ready to assume that Beast had been busy with the threat of the Adversary, but if he hasn't shed blood in five years as Sheriff, then obviously there hasn't been that much of a danger to Fabletown. And if what Jack did was a capital offense, then why did it rank so low on the Sheriff's priority list? Considering the lengths Bigby went to to keep Fabletown secret from that reporter in the wake of the March of the Wooden Soldiers streetfight, Beast must be an incredibly inept Sheriff if he doesn't have any intelligence on a leak of this magnitude.

Also, my sympathy for Jill disappeared once I realized what sort of a rat she was. The limitations on Farm residents are harsh, but fair -- if you cannot pay for magicks to make yourself appear human, then you cannot be seen by the Mundy population lest you endanger all of the exiles. The Farm is both gilded cage and benevolent largesse -- comfortable protection from the Adversary at a reasonable cost. Jill's desire to escape is understandable, as is her resentment of Jack's treatment of her. But is it any more than she deserves? Jill helped Jack steal from Fabletown and was rewarded with a chance to break the Farm rules and leave -- a great crime in that she exposes everyone the minute any Mundy sees her. Then, knowing precisely what Jack was doing the entire time, she waited five years to see if Jack's treatment of her would improve before she called home and turned on him/turned him in.

The 'corruption of Hollywood' morality play got tired fast -- it was suitable and entertaining last issue with Jack, who is already on record as being interested solely in his own comfort and wealth, but it was just annoying and boring with Moss Waterhouse. Who cares if Moss is buggering an action star and has an ego inflating faster than the national debt? His self-satisfied power play is revealed to the readers to be not nearly as clever as he thinks it is -- the credit goes to Beast, who perhaps should be a lawyer instead of a Sheriff, considering the previous paragraph -- and we end up wasting an inordinate amount of time listening to the thoughts of a man who doesn't realize he's a dupe.

So what was the moral of the story? Avarice and cluelessness wins (Moss Waterhouse) and the only way for avarice and cleverness to win is to betray your partners at the opportune moment (Jill), which many not mean being the first to turn traitor (Jack).

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