Fables 13 (The Great Fables Crossover)
“You’re not talking about the readers, are you? I can’t help their being there. They follow me everywhere. Shameless hero worship. Ignore them. They’re scum.”
This was not what I thought it was going to be. I don’t know why—I looked at the cover and should have realized that the crossover was with Jack’s standalone series (which I have read). Instead, I thought it was going to be some kind of crossover with other franchises/titles (though why I thought this was possible, I don’t know, given the fact that crossovers with other series would probably be very expensive). So while I enjoyed it, its loose existential plot got on my nerves slightly (but so did Waiting for Godot, so I must just be an uncultured philistine).
What it does do is skip across the Fables titles, including Fables, Jack of Fables, and The Literals, I guess giving the latter two a chance to break out on their own. It’s written by Bill Willingham with pencils mostly done by Mark Buckingham, so there is a comprehensiveness of vision (and, of course, Buckingham only gets better with each subsequent story he draws). Boy Blue has died a heroic death (which I missed in volumes 11 and 12, obviously), and Fabletown is destroyed. The first section begins with a breathtaking (irrational) fight between Beast and Bigby Wolf, which is only stopped by Beauty and Snow White’s intervention. Rose Red is in a distraught state after Blue’s death, and Jack is ready to be her rebound guy. There’s the introduction of Jack Frost, Jack’s son with the Snow Queen, who is quite an enjoyable character. The Page Sisters are back (and apparently they’re Jack’s sisters, as well; I seem to have missed a trick since I read the first volume of Jack of Fables) and although annoying and bitchy, they actually do have some heroic moments. Mr Revise is not their actual father; he is the son of Kevin Thorn, the metafictional author character who wants to wipe the Fables, the Literals, and pretty much the entire universe out of existence.
From this point on, it’s rather a madcap adventure to stop Kevin Thorn, an assault mounted by Bigby, Snow, Jack, the Page Sisters, Mr Revise, and Gary (Kevin’s father, a sort of absentminded Elemental type). Kevin has on his side the power to call up the Genres (Western, Noir, Action, Horror, Literary, Science Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Comedy, and Fantasy) and the now-handicapped Hansel as well as Sam, (one can only assume) of Uncle Remus fame. There are various funny moments; time is lost when Kevin transforms Bigby into whatever takes his fancy at that moment. The animal-shaped Fables unfortunately misinterpret the sad sex between Rose and Jack. “It’s official,” says Mr Revise. “Life is a farce.” Despite my general ambivalence toward the Page Sisters, I have to admit the spread on pages 180-1 of them leading the assault against the Genres is pretty impressive. And the introduction of Deus Ex Machina at the right moment is amusing (and the fact it involves an egg will amuse anyone who’s seen “Boom Town”).