Saturday, June 12, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 129 (6/12) -- The Great Fables Crossover by Willingham, Sturges and a host of artists

The Great Fables Crossover is the lucky 13th collection of Bill Willingham's Fables comics series, about folktale creatures now living in our "mundane" world. It's also effectively Jack of Fables Vol. 6 1/2, collecting three issues of that spin-off series (about the self-absorbed character who was "Jack" in nearly every story you can think of) that fall between the ones collected in last year's Vol. 6 and the upcoming Vol. 7. And it also collects a three-issue spin-off limited series called The Literals.

Sounds complicated? It really isn't. This story might have originally been published under three labels, but it was all one story to begin with, and the labels primarily served to allow it to have extra shelf space in comics shops and to pop out three issues each month -- so as to avoid being damaged by the Wednesday Crowd's notoriously short attention spans. And the whole story didn't really need to wrap back into the parent book (where it's a sideshow, and a distraction from their own plotline), since it's entirely driven by The Literals Problem that writer Bill Willingham (and co-writer for Jack Matthew Sturges) gradually painted himself into in Jack of Fables.

Jack, in his travels in search of fame, fortune, and willing women across America, discovered that not only are there Mundanes (non-magical people like you and me) and Fables (who have abilities mostly due to being part of stories), but that there are also Literals, who embody or create those stories. This inevitably led to a story about a character we might as well call The Writer (though Willingham called him Kevin Thorn -- the only Literal to have a completely Mundane name), who possibly created the whole ball of wax.

But Willingham clearly didn't want his Fables universe to degenerate into metafiction, and he also realized that Kevin Thorn was too powerful to be a useful villain: a character that can do absolutely anything without any trouble can't actually do anything, because he overbalances the story. So the purpose of "The Great Fables Crossover" is to walk the Fables universe back to a pre-Literals status quo, and it takes two hundred pages (amusing pages, but pages that also often feel like added complication for the purpose of complication) to do so.

In the end, Jack is basically where he was at the beginning of his own series, and the cast of the main Fables series gets to go back to their own pressing plotline. The whole thing isn't necessary, I suppose -- even less so than most stories, I mean -- and it's much more of a Jack story than a main Fables story, but it'll do.
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index

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