Writers: Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges
Artists: Tony Akins and Andrew Pepoy
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
Of all the Vertigo titles currently being published, Fables is perhaps most deserving of a spin-off book: it has such a large cast, and so many stories to tell, that there's actually a justifiable reason for a satellite series to pick up the slack. It's rare to find a spin-off/companion book that has a legitimate right to exist. I won't name any names, but think of an upcoming book that rhymes with Nighty A-Blenders, and you'll see what I mean.
Here, then, are the further adventures of Jack Horner, nearly two years after the character was written out of the main series. The issue picks up exactly where Fables left off, though Jack offers a quick recap/summary that's hilariously slanted in his favor. It works whether you read Fables or not, because from the start you can already tell that Jack's a bit full of himself and not a reliable narrator at all.
He does make for an interesting protagonist, though; as the quintessential trickster figure, he's constantly stumbling into situations that require quick thinking and trickery rather than brute force. The thing is, Jack never really took center stage when he was around, so there's a lot of room for exploration and redefinition. This issue certainly presents a tough challenge: in what appears to be a bit of a Prisoner riff, Jack is abducted by mysterious forces and sent to a "retired Fables" community where everyone's a little weird and a little broken-down. Jack, of course, vows to escape by sundown... but things get complicated when a long-dead Fable makes a shocking comeback at the very end.
Willingham and Sturges do an excellent job contrasting and comparing Jack of Fables to the primary series: it makes use of the same characters and setting, but if Fables has any flaw it's the lack of focus on specific figures, precisely because it strives to put together such a massive tapestry of stories that individual cast members don't get a lot of panel time per issue/arc. And that's exactly what Jack of Fables offers as a counterbalance: an in-depth look at a rather complex recurring
Fable, who now gets his chance to shine.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!