Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Fables #35 - A Review

Written by: Bill Willingham
Penciled by: David Hahn
Inked by: David Hahn
Colored by: Daniel Vozzo
Lettered by: Todd Klein
Editor: Shelly Bond
Publisher: Vertigo Comics

I love trickster tales. When I was a kid, I collected every book I could get on the tales of Coyote. Even now, as an adult working on a graduate degree in information science and technology, I still thrill to the tales of Anansi, Raven and Wolf. I even managed to justify writing a term paper upon Spider-Man as the greatest heroic trickster figure in modern literature. As such, I was looking forward to this arc in Fables which centers upon the granddaddy of all tricksters; Jack.

You ever hear of a Jack in a nursery rhyme or a story? This was him. Jack, who in the reality of Fables is a real, living person created by the general public’s belief in stories, has fled from Fabletown – the community in New York where most of the Fable-folk live. He headed for Hollywood with a small fortune, artfully stolen from the coffers of his former city. Once there, Jack began building a movie studio intent on creating the greatest epic of all time; his life story, as told by him, projected on the big screen in full Technicolor.

This is beyond pure egoism for Jack, though he is happy to see himself on screen. It is even beyond money and power, though he is quite happy to get that as well. Fame is an impossibility, as the rules of the fable-folk prohibit any of their number from doing anything that might inform the public of their existence. So Jack cannot play himself on screen or even act as head of the studio, employing an elaborate series of front-men and power-players to keep his own involvement hidden, though everyone in town knows the name of his alias: John Trick. Nonetheless, why does he play such a dangerous game when exposure is so close and death so certain, even for money and power and ego? The answers do come in the conclusion of this issue and while it looks like we won’t be seeing Jack for a while the door has been left wide open for more adventures down the road.

Would that the art this time were the equal of Bill Willingham’s story. David Hahn has been substituting for regular Artist Mark Buckingham for two issues and has proven to be as enjoyable a substitute as Miller Lite for a Guinness-drinker in a bar on St. Patrick’s Day. This is not to say that he is a bad artist. He is not, by any means. But the artwork here looks too clean and bright with not nearly enough shadows or shading. Daniel Vozzo’s colors don’t help, making the whole affair look like a more pastel-driven Mike Allred book, which really doesn’t work for Fables.

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