Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Linda Medley
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
When a band of small soldiers from the Kingdom of Lilliput sail off to face the armies of the Adversary they soon discover the rest of the world operates on a far larger than they are able to deal with, so they soon join the mass exodus out of the Fablelands. However, when their new community is made up of all men, we see it falls upon a lone hero to bring back the solution to this latest crisis.
A charming little done-in-one story about how the smaller sized people of the Fablelands managed to survive the Adversary's attack, and build a new life for themselves in the new world. Now it's not a thrill packed affair, as most of the threats that our heroes encounter are either entirely dismissive of them because of their small size, or in a rather amusing scene incredibly lazy, and unwilling to make the effort require to stop them. Now this doesn't make their struggles any less engaging, as one has to love the opening section of the story where the soldiers bravely march off to battle the Adversary's forces, only to discover that the outside world is one of giants that could effectively wipe out their entire regiment with a well placed stomp of a foot. There's also something rather humorous about these soldiers react to the idea that their entire population of their newly founded community is male, and what the arrival of Thumbelina does to the delicate balance of their community. We also have the brave adventure of a single small hero who sets out to liberate a jar of magical barleycorns from the Adversary controlled Fablelands, and if I had one complaint to make about this issue it's that this section of the book wasn't given a little more room, as his adventure really isn't all that harrowing, and this is largely due to the fact that all the threats he encounters don't really seem all that interested in being threatening.
As for the art, Linda Medley's simple style is surprisingly effective when it comes to detailing the rather endearing qualities of this story, as the credit page shot of the soldiers sailing off to war is a wonderful visual to open the flashback on. The art also has a grand old time capturing the more comedic elements of the men as they attempt to win the heart of Thumbelina. There's also some solid work conveying the idea that it's characters are far smaller that the world around them, as the animals and plant life towers over these characters. There's also some nice work on the background detailing, as the chamber where the magical artifacts are being stored is quite impressive, and there's a great one-page shot of the party that is thrown when the female-to-male ratio is brought back to normal in the town of Smalltown.
If this issue only accomplishes one thing it's to establish the wide range of stories that Bill Willingham can present, as there's literally hundreds of characters to draw upon and they all have an interesting story to tell when it comes to their escape from the Fablelands and their struggles to make a new life for themselves. One also has to admire Bill Willingham's imaginative method of incorporating different elements from all the various Fables to make a cohesive whole, as the miniaturized population of Lilliput is brought into contact with the fable of Thumbelina, and an entire adventure is set into motion when one of their brave heroes sets out to secure the magical means that originally gave life to Thumbelina herself. There's also some intriguing side stories that could still lend themselves to future issues, as the fate of the Kingdom of Lilliput is left unresolved, and I wouldn't mind seeing the adventures of Mustard Pot Pete before he encountered our young hero in the old witch's cottage.
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