Last month’s “Fables” was a fun first half of a two-parter, where Bill Willingham and Gene Ha presented a story from back when Bigby Wolf was still a villain and his fate was to be destroyed in three days’ time. “Fables” #123 concludes that story, and while there was a certain glee in the first half of “The Destiny Game,” it’s missing some of that punch in its back half.
Part of the problem, of course, is that we already know that Bigby’s destiny was not really to be devoured long before we ever met him. When the Green Woman gave Magus Atlantes his fate last issue — one that sounded suspiciously like what we already knew Bigby would have — the solution to “The Destiny Game” was already obvious. It’s a shame that we didn’t get that sequence shifted to this issue, to create at least a little suspense on how everything would get untangled.
Instead, the fun is mostly in the turtle with the teacup on her back (who’s passed through “Fables” before) explaining the power of the Green Woman, and showing us images of how she’s operated in years past. It’s a nice little sequence that brings a new mythic character into the fold, and with a promised extra encounter down the line, it makes me look forward to her return. But for a series that normally delights in not being predictable, “Fables” #123 is nothing but that.
Ha’s art looks great, though. The huge bulk of Bigby as he’s about to attack Magus Atlantes looks fantastic, to say nothing of how his head is framed between two trees as he bids the turtle farewell. We’re so used to Bigby being a good guy that Ha has to make him a proper menace once again, and I feel like he accomplishes just that. His delicate lines in the history of the Green Woman are also on display here; with misty colors from Art Lyon, that entire sequence comes to life in a way that a lesser artist might not have been able to depict.
“Fables” #123 is ultimately saved not by the plot, but by everything else. Even the backup story with Shawn McManus’s art (which concludes next month) feels a bit more surprising and fun, and it only has three pages to work with. Overall, this is an issue that is all right, but still loses a lot of the good will built up the previous month. The idea of this two-parter ultimately seemed better in theory than execution.