I’ve never entirely understood why so many comics save big events for issues that are a multiple of 25, but it seems a nice enough place to switch things up. In the case of “Fables” #75, it’s definitely a big turning point for the comic, although I must say that I actually found the setup of things to come a little more interesting than the issue’s events, themselves.
Maybe it’s because “Fables” #75 was so highly hyped as being status quo shattering that this issue seemed to initially roll through with a tiny bit of a whimper. When the dust settles and all is said and done, the end of the war between Fabletown and the Homelands seems a little too easy. There really aren’t many casualties at all, and aside from a few nicks and cuts our heroes seem to emerge from the final battle in pretty good shape. Honestly? It makes all the fugitive fables from the comic seem a little pathetic for having hidden on our world for so long instead of marching on the Homelands much earlier.
It wasn’t until my second read-through that I started to appreciate “Fables” #75 a little more. If Willingham had stretched this particular story into a half-dozen issues (instead of just three) I suspect we’d have seen a lot more of the nitty-gritty fights and skirmishes that make up the war. Instead, Willingham chooses to follow not the foot-soldiers that make up the majority of the fights, but the main characters that we’ve learned to like over the past 75 issues. And really, that makes much more sense. As the leaders of the war, of course they wouldn’t be on all of the front lines and fighting each individual battle. So the big battles happen elsewhere, with just a few of the splashes serving to get an idea of the scale and then hearing about the rest of it from characters after-the-fact. It’s a risky move to take in terms of writing, but the more I thought about this issue, the more pleased I was with it.
That said, the big splashes of the battles? Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, and Andrew Pepoy really outdid themselves. The entire issue is told in two-page spreads, but it’s some of those pages that make that artistic choice entirely worth it. The Emperor leading a horde of soldiers and behemoths into battle with the single word “attack” is gorgeous and breathtaking, and some of the tiny details in the pages to follow (the White Rabbit with a machine-gun, the cow that jumped over the moon leaping through the air with a sack of grenades) are hysterical.
And, of course, the end of the comic? Well, Willingham promised something brand-new for the issues to come on the book, and I think it’s safe to say that he’s delivered. If part of the purpose of “Fables” #75 was to make people anxious to read “Fables” #76, then he’s more than succeeded. In the end, “Fables” #75 is the kind of comic that really grows on you the more you think about it. Here’s to the next 75 issues being just as much fun.