Review by Frank Plowright
The regular reader will find many rewards in this volume, but it’s probably not the place for newcomers to start as the emotional impact will be diminished. This is particularly true of an excellent interlude chapter featuring a conversation between two seemingly dead characters.
A possible manner of restoring a dead character occupies much of the Fabletown section of this collection, with the restoration hindered by a vengeful sort. There’s someone else presumed dead who’s not as ready for the slab as believed, although some may cry “Harry Potter” on discovering how. The other main narrative occurs out on the Fables farm where Rose Red isn’t quite sure what she’s becoming, but is compelled to start her path of responsibility by inspiring hope. Her considered manner of doing this is to revive an old idea, and the selection process begins for a new more egalitarian Knights of the Round Table.
Willingham is on top form throughout the Fabletown section, with the not as dead as thought person provoking quite the moral dilemma, and a surprising outcome, and many portentous hints dropped as the series winds to a conclusion. Mark Buckingham designs a spectacular new Fabletown, and is uniformly excellent whether illustrating a sequence of a wolf on the hunt, the mortician’s surgery, Snow White talking with her children or an ogre addressing a finch.
The stories seemingly unconnected to the main narrative are a mixed bunch. Barry Kitson and Gary Erskine illustrate a bizarre story of the monsters within a house. It has a few decent moments, but a poorly pitched and unnecessary final panel and the feeling of filler otherwise. Better is ‘The Boys in the Band’ beginning with a narrative caption explaining that the adventure leads to the irrevocable destruction of Fabletown. How’s that for a teaser? Willingham plays fair, though, and if the final caption’s not what readers expect, isn’t that a positive thing? The art, a rare pencil and inks job from Steve Leialoha, serves as both a reminder of how good he is, but also of what he brings to Buckingham’s art. Russ Braun delivers an imperious and malign Gepetto’s satisfaction in seeing a plot come to fruition. Will it have a later significance? Well, this is Fables. The penultimate volume is Happily Ever After.
This is also available in the hardback Fables Deluxe Edition Book Fifteen and Fables Compendium Four.