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Fables #39

Posted: Friday, July 29, 2005
By: Jason Cornwell



"Meanwhile"

Writer: Bill Willingham
Pencils: Lan Medina
Inks: Dan Green
Colors: Daniel Vozzo
Letters: Todd Klein
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
$2.75 U.S. / $3.75 CAN

Plot:
As Mowgli the Man Cub from the pages of the Jungle Book stories returns to Fabletown, we see that he's been brought back in to carry out a very important, and potentially dangerous mission, that will help Prince Charming carry out his goal of taking the fight to the Adversary. Meanwhile we see an investigation has been launched that manages to uncover the identity of a spy who had been supplying the Adversary with information for years.

Comments:
I was debating whether I was going to reveal which new Fable steps into the spotlight in this issue, but since his identity isn't going to really spoil any of this issue's many surprises, I figure what possible harm could it do to reveal that Bill Willingham has decided to start playing with Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book cast, with Mowgli the Man Cub emerging as one of the coolest characters to emerge out of this series since Bigby Wolf, which in turn makes the final couple pages of this issue even more enjoyable. Now I'm sure I'm like most readers in that most of my knowledge of the Jungle Book stories comes from the animated Disney film (which still has one of my all time favourite soundtracks), so I'm sure there's a number of little details in this issue that I simply didn't notice, but I have to say the conversation between Mowgli and Bagheera the Panther is a wonderful reflection of the relationship that these two shared in the film, and I couldn't help but imagine Phil Harris delivering Balloo the Bear's lines. However, what really got me excited about this venture into the Jungle Book stories was that Bill Willingham has come up with a substantial role for Mowgli to play, and I can't wait for the upcoming issue(s) where we get to follow the character as he works to carry out the task that he's been assigned. The rest of the issue centres around a surprising revelation about a "trusted" member of the Fable community who has been providing the Adversary with information for years. In addition to being a genuine surprise when the character's identity is revealed, this issue also gives us a very engaging look at how the new dynamic of the Fables government, with Prince Charming emerging as a pretty effective leader. There's also a wonderfully ominous scene where we get a look at the means that the Fables use to deal with members of their community guilty of crimes punishable by death. In the end this was yet another fine issue in a title that I currently hold up as my favourite monthly title.

Lan Medina makes a return to the title that he helped launch and I have to say that while I've really come to appreciate the extra touches that Mark Buckingham brings to the book, Lan Medina's visit does serve to remind us that this book has always been in the hands of great artists. I mean there's some lovely visuals to be found in this issue, from the quiet intensity that Bagheera manages to project as he paces his cage, to the wonderfully unsettling sequence where we get a look at the final moments of the Fable who was working for the Adversary. The art also manages to nicely build toward it's final page revelation, as there's a real sense of importance conveyed on that second to last page, and the final image of the issue conveys a real sense of excitement. I also have to credit the issue for managing to make Balloo look like a real bear while also capturing the laid-back attitude that is an essential aspect of the character, as this contrast of ideas is harder to pull off than it looks.



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