The last few months, “Fables” has felt like it’s been meandering a bit. The reason why I mention that is because with “Fables” #125, Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham have taken all of those various plot threads heading off in different directions and snapped them firmly into place. The end result is a book that is engaging and feels like it has a direction again. Considering that in a couple of months “Fables” will be the elder statesman of Vertigo, that’s a good thing.
Keeping the written-in-the-future biography of Bigby Wolf introduced a couple of issues ago as a narrator is a nice surprise; it looked like it had just been for its initial two-parter, but now we’re seeing that it’s part of a bigger story. Likewise, we’re getting follow-ups from the cubs in Toyland story and also Mrs. Spratt and the fencing instructor who were left behind by Mister Dark. Watching these threads all start to converge instantly makes the book more exciting; we’re striding forward, not spinning wheels, and it’s nice to see that there’s a larger point to it all.
As for the plot itself, it’s got some nice bits peppered throughout it. Bigby Wolf and Stinky the Badger is such a strange pairing that I’m curious to see where it’s going, although Bigby already slapping down all of Stinky’s attempt at adventure cliches has been worth it right from the beginning. The fencing master is also getting some interesting material, both in terms of his own personal history as well as his abilities. Up until now he’s felt like almost a non-entity, but this is moving into more intriguing territory. I do find it interesting that for a storyline entitled “Snow White,” Snow White herself has had little to do up until now save worry. Still, the cliffhanger promises much more material for her to sink her teeth into in the chapters to come, and that’s a good thing; it’s been far too long since she’s taken center stage.
Buckingham’s art is consistent as ever. In many ways it’s almost review-proof; you know exactly what you’re going to get before you even open the comic. Very smooth and solid character designs, a strong attention to anatomy, handsome page border drawings and being able to draw the fantastic with the greatest of ease. The only real surprise here is that Buckingham got to provide the cover to the comic this month. It’s a nice look, too, and while Joao Raus’s covers are great, I wouldn’t mind if Buckingham got to get the cover slot some more down the line.
“Fables” #125 feels firmly back on track, and I appreciate that right now the book feels like anything could happen. That’s been part of the fun of “Fables” in the past, and it’s nice to have it once more.