Therese Wolf one of Snow White and Bigby Wolfs seven children finds herself wanting after her sister Winter being crowned as the new North Wind. With her father busy preparing Winter for her new role and her mother busy taking care of her brothers and sisters a toy boat received from an unknown benefactor is little distraction. This toy boat is more than it seems though and Therese finds herself going on an adventure to the strange land of Discardia the realm of broken toys, these toys are broken in more ways than one though.
With Hellblazer’s cancellation Bill Willingham’s Fables will officially take the mantle of being Vertigo’s longest running comic with issue #126 out this month. This latest volume collects together issues #114 -123. This longevity is starting to show though, after the war with The Adversary, the main underlying driving narrative for the series was resolved in the War and Pieces arc finishing in issue #75 (around the time when most Vertigo series tend to finish) there’s been an evident lack of focus or drive in the series since.
Therese’s time in Discardia is one of the darkest periods in Fables thus far, very much a twisted and grim take on the fairy tale trappings which the series is built on. The way this manifests shows Willingham clearly doesn’t lack for imagination or an ability to go into darker places. The underlying theme of this story is innocence lost and redemption and relates to the prophecy mentioned in the previous book Inherit The Wind.
There’s plenty of darkly surreal imagery and characters, Mr Ives a large, ragged stuffed bear being just one of them.
As well as Therese her brother Dare also plays a fundamental part in this story with her fearless brother determined to find her.
Epilogue story The Destiny Game makes impressive use of its setting and its concise narrative
The art by long time artist Mark Buckingham is as good as ever, especially at conveying the more disturbing elements featured in the Cubs in Toyland story with Steve Leialoha’s inks amplyfing the effect but Gene Ha’s art for The Destiny Game stands out with its more classical fairy tale elements.
The sprawling ensemble cast of Fables and its numerous awards (14 Eisners and counting) ensure it will no doubt run on for a considerable time, at times though the lack of focus does make you wonder whether that is a good thing. The main narrative drive for the series is somewhat of a mystery now with The Adversary now dealt with and Mr Dark in the rear view mirror too, and the prophecy relating to Bigby’s cubs doesn’t seem big enough to hold things up. So the series is driving along but no-one besides Willingham knows the destination and some readers may not be willing to ride shotgun for the journey.