Review: Fables #159
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Bill Willingham
Art: Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Todd Klein
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
“In which we explore the philosophies of atrocity, a wolf, and a young woman, and a recently unboxed god try to work out who can piss farther than the next guy.”
Sometimes in a long story arc, a single issue can change everything and this is exactly what happens in Fables #159. While last issue brought some things into focus, this issue feels like a huge jump from issue #157 which seemed to be meandering. The stakes are now obvious and the villain seems to be completely revealed. The next aspect that stands out is the somewhat meta aspect of the “contest” being for control of the Black Forest, the real life home to so many of the fairy tales that are the basis for Fables. It’s a subtle, but clever nuance.
There’s a twist with Tinkerbell that feels right, even if it leaves Peter Pan feeling even more wrong. This dichotomy should be enough to keep readers around just to find out what is going on and if there’s more to Peter. We also get a quick trip to Fabletown to see Old King Cole and it’s a brief reminder of how things started way back in Fables #1. While so much has changed, this is a gentle reminder of where it all began and it produces a comforting feeling of nostalgia for the history of this series.
It’s hard to imagine Fables without Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha. While they weren’t the first art team on the series, there’s no doubt that they are THE art team for the series. As usual the borders are a unique aspect of the title that Buckingham has developed. Buckingham and Leialoha are like your your favorite character’s iconic costume. One instantly falls right into the world of Fables with just a glimpse of the art. The forest god is particularly imposing in this issue and there’s a complexity to Peter Pan that is revealed through his expressions as he gives Tinkerbell her orders. Or, perhaps, it’s just the complexity that Buckingham and Leialoha capture of this hero turned villain in their depiction of him.
Like the other recent issues, it’s the time between issues that are the biggest drawback to Fables #159. Also, this issue may not quite catch readers up as effectively as last issue did.
The plot pieces seemingly all fall into place and this propels Fables #159 unlike any other issue since the relaunch that began with issue #151 over a year ago. You can almost feel the bus speeding up! The “contest” between the forest god, Bigby and Greenjack give some context to things and the mystery of Peter Pan and Tinkerbell deepens. These central plotlines converge here to take us into the home stretch of a the arc with art that never falters from Buckingham and Leialoha.