Reviewer: “Starman” Matt Morrison
Story Title: The Cruel Hot Summer
Written by: Bill Willingham
Penciled by: Mark Buckingham
Inked by: Steve Leialoha
Cover Art by: James Jean
Colored by: Daniel Vozzo
Lettered by: Todd Klein
Editor: Shelly Bond
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
And so it came to pass, that a war-torn country approached election time. The choice before them was difficult. Though they had the option to write in votes for whoever they chose, most saw it as a choice between only two people. The incumbent was an optimistic and personable aristocrat, whom was well-liked in spite of his apparent incompetence as a war leader, and indeed, everything else. His challenger was another aristocrat, not lacking in charm himself, who ran upon promises to help the less fortunate under him and his reputation as a courageous fighter who had actually seen combat in the great war.
No analogies here. No no no…
In all seriousness, whether you see parallels in the on-going story of Fables and our current political climate or no, you cannot deny that it is one of the best books on the market today. Willingham effortless juggles a number of subplots here, depicting the events of an entire summer in a scant 22 pages. Among these are…
- The Birth of Snow White’s children, the result of a tryst with Fabletown Sheriff Bigby Wolf while both were hypnotized.
- Little Boy Blue’s injuries after the war. Will he ever play the bugle again?
- The election for Fabletown Mayor between Old King Cole and Prince Charming.
- The capture of Baba Yaga by the Black Forest Witch (aka the witch from nearly every child-eating witch story).
- A reporter who, for some reason, is unaffected by the witches spells to erase memory of the epic battle between the people of Fabletown and the wooden soldier armies of “The Adversary”, who seeks to enslave all the mythological characters now living in Fabletown.
Mark Buckingham is one of the finest artists working today and every issue of this comic shows why he is a frequent nominee when the various awards are doled out. And this issue’s cover, showing a baby with a stuffed wolf wearing two campaign buttons, is typical of the aura of mystery that fills every cover for this comic. The cover always relates to the story, but it is often hard to say how it does so directly until after it is read. Small wonder then that Fables won the 2004 Eisner for best cover art.