Quick Rating: Excellent
Title: The Battle of Fabletown (March of the Wooden Soldiers Chapter Seven)
The wooden soldiers are armed. The Fables are ready. The war begins.
Writer: Bill Willingham
Pencils: Mark Buckingham
Inks: Steve Leialoha
Colors: Daniel Vozzo
Letters: Todd Klein
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: James Jean
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
This is one of those comic books it is going to be very hard to review, because so much happens and virtually everything constitutes a spoiler. Still, I shall endeavor to do my best to convey to you exactly how sharp, how powerful, how brilliant an issue this is of one of the best comic books on the market today.
The Adversary, the mysterious being that drove the Fables out of their homelands, has sent an army of wooden soldiers constructed by Pinochio’s father, Gepetto, out to New York City to do war with them in the streets of Fabletown. The wooden soldiers are only supposed to be interested in procuring the magical items in the Fables’ possession and taking Pinochio back with them, but they march with a blood thirst that could bring down everything the Fables have work for.
This is basically a book-long battle scene, but it’s one that advances the plot and many characters in very significant ways. Prince Charming proves himself a capable warrior. Snow White is shown as a good leader and strategist, but not infallible (one major mistake she makes, ironically, is a tactic that fans on Bill Willingham’s message board have been debating all month). At least two major characters seem to fall in battle – although in a book like this any death is suspect – others are gravely wounded and still more find new or slightly altered roles to cast themselves in. This is one of those books that actually lives up to the hyperbole of saying that nothing will be the same after it is over.
Buckingham and Leialoha own this series. While there have been other artists and they’ve all done fine jobs, this art team gives the title more power, more zing than anybody else. Buckingham doesn’t get to play around with panel structure as much as he usually does, since the battle scene doesn’t really allow for that, but he still packs every panel with magic, valor and energy.
And if all that isn’t enough, the book also includes a preview of the upcoming The Witching by Jonathan Vankin, Leigh Gallagher and Ron Randall. It’s hard to get a feel for the story in the few pages presented here, but the artwork is beautiful.
In summation, if you haven’t been reading this book, start. Now. Go get the first three trade paperbacks and order the TPB of this story arc, it’s solicited in this month’s Previews. Go ahead. I’ll wait. It’s worth it.