Whelp, another Wednesday, another comics haul, and another li'l writeup of the most anticipated issue brought home from the LCS. It wasn't even close this week - only one comic really piqued my interest and it was great, as always.
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists (Ho-Boy!): M.K. Perker, Jim Rugg, Mark Buckingham, Andrew Pepoy, Joëlle Jones, D'Israeli, Jill Thompson, David Lapham, John K. Snyder III, Eric Shanower, Barry Kitson
Now this was a nice treat! In this stand-alone issue, Mr. Willingham takes some time to answer the reader's mail. Specifically, any questions that readers' might have about the series - questions like: "what about such-and-such's dangled plot", "what ever happened to...?", or "you never explained this bit..." stuff. He chose the 11 best questions, got 11 artists and went about answering them. Isn't that a spiffy little way to a) thank the fans (which he does during the opening page's explanation of the issue), b) wrap up some plots left hanging before the next story arc (which looks to be huge), c) make sure you (as a writer) didn't overlook anything too important from this huge cast of characters, and d) flex your writer's chops a bit and write 11 different premise-supplied-to-you stories. And they turn out to be darn fine stories at that.
The stories range from "pretty clever!" through "great idea!" to "that was seriously funny, right there!" They're all very good at least, but everyone will get hooked by their own favorite (mine was, "How are the new Three Little Pigs adjusting to being pigs?"). As an individual issue of a comic, it's a great read - really, really fun. As an individual issue of Fables, it's par for the course. What a consistently fantastic series! Much like my anticipation of Y: The Last Man, I'm sure that I'll be writing a lot about Fables in this weekly thing. I'm hooked on both of these books and really look forward to them each month (or, Bi-month, in Y's case). But what about someone who has never read Fables before? (shame on you!)
As I read these stories, I made mental notes to see if knowledge of previous events was required for anyone who picks this up as their first issue. I don't think so. I believe anyone could follow these - even those of you who have never picked up an issue of Fables before (and if you haven't, again, shame on you!). They're basically quick little premise / answer stories, and with questions like, "What is training like for a new member of the Mouse Police?" you should have no problem with the following story even if you don't know specifics of the Mouse Police. Indeed, the first story featured a character I had no knowledge of (I'm catching up through the trades and he's in the only one I haven't read yet, shame on me), but I had no problem following it and laughing at the end. Let's see... He's a fable, Arabic, named Hakim, and was granted his freedom recently... Ex-Genie. Easy peasy.
The multiple artists do a good enough job with each story. Since there's really no mood to the stories, writing-wise (aside from maybe an underlying sense of lightheartedness), the art is relatively straightforward. Most artists get only a single page, and there really is nothing to complain about. Good job all around. The standout is, as always, the awesome cover by James Jean. This guy is consistently one of the best cover artists out there. I mean, look at that cover again - that's an amazing Snow White / Rose Red dichotomy. For a "mailbag" one-and-out throw-away issue. And again, as always, the issue number is cleverly placed within the cover art itself. Mr. Jean - I will buy you a beer if I ever run across you, sir!
Great issue, and a great jumping on point before the next big story arc is about to hit. I know I'm about the 50-bajillionist blogger to be saying this, but if you're not reading Fables, you're missing out (shame, and all that). Get the first trade and prove me wrong.
Most Wanted Panel: (and there were lots to choose from in this issue)