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Friday, September 17, 2004

Storyline Review: Fables "War Stories" (Issues #28 and #29)

Vertigo $2.50 each
Written by Bill Willingham; Pencils by Tony Akins; Inked by Jimmy Palmiotti

Caution: Spoiler heavy review ahead. Proceed with caution.

Fabletown went on vacation for the past two months, while Willingham and company explored a story from Bigby Wolf’s past. We find our hairy hero in Nazi Germany on a secret mission for the Allies. Bigby and a group of American soldiers head off for Castle Frankenstein to stop a secret Nazi weapon from being built and used. This project however is just a ruse for the Nazis to try to capture Bigby and exploit him for their own evil cause. Insanity ensues with Americans fighting Nazis, Bigby fighting Nazis, and Bigby fighting Frankenstein’s monster.

While I liked the idea of this storyline at first, I was dissapointed with the outcome. Some parts were just utterly ridiculous. For example, why would the Nazis go to all the trouble of making Frankenstein’s monster (I nicknamed him Big Frank) just to use him as a high-tech lure? Couldn’t they just leak false intelligence to the Allies and save themselves the trouble? Using Big Frank was just too complicated, despite him being a cool addition to the cast.

While the big guy’s presence was unnecessary, I did enjoy the Bigby versus Big Frank brawl. It definitely had an old Universal monster movie feel to it. I would have been happier with Bigby fighting either Big Frank or the Nazis. The combination was just too much. Could we see more of Big Frank in future issues? Willingham leaves that open as a possibility.

The writing was also a little weak in these two issues. While I see what Willingham was trying to accomplish using rough soldier talk, a lot of the lines, especially when a character said that someone “scared the frothy Irish piss” out of him, fell flat with me. They seemed to be trying to be gross for no reason, instead of bringing humor to the story. Some lines like, he “could shoot the dick off a fly at 300 meters” were just plain bad. This definitely isn’t something we’ve come to expect from the Fables crew.

One thing that is always on the mark with this title is the stylish flourishes unique to each storyline. The title banners on the cover of these issues show off the Army theme. Other storylines also had their own style. This is just a little thing that makes Fables stand out from other titles.

Next month, a new storyline “The Year After,” begins. I hope it brings us back to Fabletown. While I like the idea of exploring individual Fables away from the rest of the gang, this issue just wasn’t as successful as I had hoped.

Bottom line: C

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