Friday, December 17, 2010

The List #46 Part 1

Fables #100
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Mark Buckingham and [many others]
I know I'm pretty late on commenting on this issue, but things have been nuts over the past few weeks and when they finally let up, I traveled back to my homeland for winter break and died. Luckily, much like Jean Grey, I have risen from the grave, and even though this issue's already been discussed everywhere else, I'd still like to share my thoughts anyway especially because Fables is going to be a new title featured on this blog. Also, I'm not going to be discussing the side stories, only the main one, as they're short so my reactions to each would only be a sentence long. However, I will say that it's pretty damn amazing what Willingham and Co. packed into this 100-page special with the games, celebrity questions, prose story, and even a bonus epilogue with Three Blind Mice, who I enjoy to no end. Anyway, on to the main story.

Basically this is the Frau Totenkinder appreciation issue. Which I respect completely as Frau is my favorite Fables character as she's a badass old witch who's willing to do whatever it takes to get her way. Except she's no longer an old woman which partially ruins the magic for me.

Things open with Frau confronting the Dark Man and beginning the fight. It turns out Frau's got a number of tricks up her sleeves as she's tied a bunch of spells to trigger words, and is shooting them out rapid fire such as a spell that makes fish who form up on the Dark Man and form a shell around him, opening up a pocket dimension, and even a clever candy-based spell that cause the Dark Man to throw up all the teeth he'd collected so far which leaves him without his witherlings.

Of course I'm all for this as it mixes two of my favorite things: clever planning and attacks that require their name being shouted out. As a formerly devout Digimon/Sailor Moon/Inuyasha fan, I have to say every so often I miss the good ol' days of attacks with names. Anyway, back to my girl Frau, basically her attack plan, as noted by Ozma who's viewing the entire battle from afar, is to give the Dark Man no fear to feed his power and to turn the tables by using his own fear. She accomplishes this by using spells that involve boxing in the Dark Man, as it's what he most fears, and just battering him with her raw power when she's done with trickery. And let me just say: Frau's a fucking force with her power.

Eventually, she manages to use the gold from the Dark Man's prison, the gold he's allergic to, and, with the help of Clara, seals him in by melting the gold around him. There's more, but let's pause to discuss what's been going on at the Farm during this battle.

Back at the farm everyone is surrounding the pumpkin Ozma's in and waiting on updates from her as she's the only one there who has a direct link to the events. Including Beast and a very pregnant Beauty who suddenly goes into a violent pregnancy. Beast attempts to get Nurse Spratch to help him immediately in getting Dr. Swineheart, but Spratch rears the worst of her miserable attitude by stopping to address Beast's tone towards her. In the end, Beast hulks out and that ends that. During the pregnancy, Swineheart is his egotistical self and Spratch is being a complete bitch while Beast and Snow White are attempting to question their now-controversial methods which they are right to question considering Boy Blue's death. Eventually, having had it with Spratch, Snow White decides to revisit her bitchy origins and has a chat with Spratch. In the end, she brings her to tears and the fans to cheers as some of us miss the bitchy, pre-housewife Snow White. Anyway, now that we're caught up with the other end of the story, we'll move forward with things.

At the Farm there is much celebration for Totenkinder (who insists on being called Bellflower), and Beast revisits the dangling plot thread of the beastly garment Totenkinder presented Beauty and Beast with when she revealed when they were eventually going to have a child. Beast, confused over this, asks Snow White what to make of it as the child was born normal. Snow just says to him that it could be Frau's wicked sense of humor. Anyway, all seems well for the Fables as they have a victory feast over the defeat of the Dark Man. Except....

The Dark Man breaks out of his gold prison! Which I'm hardly sad about as I happen to enjoy the insane Dark Man as the Big Bad, especially in comparison to complain-y Gepetto. The Dark Man immediately attacks Totenkinder at the celebration without warning, and the battle ends in one of the most crushing moments of the series:
I was very near tears at this part, but I held back on that as I was sitting outside at a bus stop.
With Totenkinder disintegrated, all the Fables immediately evacuate to Haven. Except.....she's still alive! Much like Jean Grey, it's not the first time Frau's been killed, and thrillingly, she comes back to an audience of Ozma, her black cat whose name escapes me, and the guy Frau was with whose name also escapes me. Ozma attempts to convince Frau to rejoin the battle against the Dark Man, but Frau rejects it with one of the worst reasons for an exit I've ever seen:

Do that
after the fight to save the world, Frau.
This is a shitty reason for Frau's departure, considering she mentions that we're not going to see her again, and I'm just really not pleased with this little development. Especially considering she's my favorite character.

In the epilogue, after everyone is departed, the Dark Man comes to the Farm only to find Nurse Spratch there in a fit of bitterness. She agrees to help him and give him the location of the other Fables as long as she gets three things: Being made pretty, given a pretty husband, and making all the other pretty Fables ugly. He agrees to these terms and the deal is made. Um. I'm not so fond of this little turn for Spratch. While it makes sense that she'd be tired of being the only unattractive female, human Fable, I still don't like that in the end the only overweight female fable turned into a villain. Just like I don't like that the powerful old witch had to become young to become a true threat and get the full effect of the spotlight. I get the reasoning i
n terms of Fableland, but I still don't how it looks on the outside.

Also during the epilogue we see that it turns out Beauty and Beast's newborn is actually a bit of a Beast as Totenkinder had predicted. And that's the end of Fables 100, leaving the fate of all Fable kind in the hands of Ozma who, as she says here:

And as much as it pains me to see Frau go, I still am excited to see what Ozma's up to as she's more of risk-taker and seemingly more dark (even though Frau regularly sacrificed newborns). Also she's got a black cat for a sidekick and that's a fact her and I have in common:

Her name's Abbe!
Anyway, in conclusion, besides a few minor complaints, Fables #100 was exactly what a landmark issue should be: a well told story that actually shakes the reader's view on what direction the book is taking. Oh and also filled with other goodies.

X-Factor #212
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino
I know this issue was supposed to be a big deal. Thor guest-starring with this arc's already special guest star, Hela, in an Asgard-based story that wows many. Except I failed to be wowwed. Mainly because the only Asgard stories I really liked were the Annuals that year back in the late 80's with the New Mutants being trapped in Asgard. And then there's the other reasons....

To begin, this issue is sort of standard. Standard X-Factor humor which is fairly light and not worth more than a smirk. Standard hero goes to retrieve something from villain deal. Basically, in this issue Thor assists X-Factor in getting Hela to give the troll up. They an unsurprising price that threatens their lives and have to fight zombie Asgardians.

However, that's where the things of note come in. First off, we have Siryn being featured this issue, but it feels like David
really wants us to believe that while she's back to being Siryn, she's also now disheartened by the cruel world!! (Well, Banshee, but rather than mix myself up for a temporary codename change, she's gonna stay Siryn on this blog.) No, seriously, it felt forced as f#@% and did not read like natural dialogue.

Something good that finally happened this issue is the revealing of Rahne's true baby daddy:

Yessir, it's finally come out that Rictor is
not the father.
Next issue is likely to feature his reaction to this and luckily with my nonexistent ties to Marvel I've managed to pick up unreleased artwork from Rictor's reaction to not being the baby daddy. Here it is:

I think it's safe to say that most of us echo that reaction.
In other news, the issue ended with Multiple Man tricking Hela into coming at him with her death powers and having Darwin step in to absorb the blow. The way he adapts to this is to become Death and sap Hela of her powers leaving her helpless for long enough that X-Factor gets away. Darwin reverts back, but when Madrox asks him if he's ok his response is that he is even though the panel is of skulls in his eyes. As if I didn't already dislike this unimportant, uninteresting character enough, now next issue we have to deal with his bag of angst as he leaves the team, but unfortunately, not the book. And I'm really not in the mood for more boring angst; I want my Ricstar drama!

Conclusion: This issue was the definition of "meh".


Wonder Man said...

Maybe I should check out Fables

Mr. Hellfire said...

OH you absolutely should!!
It starts off a little dry and rough, but around the time Buckingham takes over for art, things get much smoother and more exciting.