Monday, April 18, 2005

FABLES #36

This was a lot of fun, moreso than Fables has been for a while -- it's been good throughout, but this was fun, a delight for being clever and intriguing in a way the story hasn't been probably since Goldilocks engineered the kidnapping of Snow and Bigby.

Presumably jumping back in time from the five-years-down-the-road from when Jack's Hollywood story takes place, we catch up with Boy Blue, who has not been the same since his betrayal and torture at the hands of Baba Yaga (in the guise of his lost love, Little Red Riding Hood). We already knew that Boy Blue ran off from Fabletown, armed with a few powerfully enchanted items, in order to find a gate back to the Homeland and face the Adversary with the hopes of finding the real LRRH. Now we get details.

Boy Blue, the executive office's gopher supreme, has always been rather low-key and cheerful observer in the goings on in Fabletown, hanging out with Flycatcher and the various lovable losers. But here we get a real sense of how much Blue is capable of -- and how deeply Baba Yaga's ploy wounded him. Back on a familiar plane, Blue is a brilliant spy and swordsman with a quick wit and a quicker blade and a kind heart and a steely resolve and he's just cool.

The table-setting scenes with the ogre tax collectors (coming out on tax week here in the States, how not ironic) was great -- the soldiers of the Adversary's fourth horde proving that infantry gripes are the same no matter where you are. They were so entertaining, I didn't even mind that they were given so many pages of set-up solely so that we'd react when Blue killed them. (And it's a testament to Willingham's soft touch that those decapitations sound a lot harsher in the above sentence than they did on the page; the bloodletting in the story is serious, but not scary or gory.) Willingham does a generally solid job of introducing the fantastic elements of the Homeland -- back in Fabletown, magicks are hidden away and used practically (tesseract apartments and masking spells), but here there's a rich diversity of what passes as normal and it all works.

A bit of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead with a lot of Princess Bride and all vastly enjoyable.

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