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Jack of Fables
Reviewed by Wesley Kerr, © 2012

Format: Comics
By:   Bill Willingham
Genre:   Fantasy drama
Review Date:   April 13, 2012

"What kinds of heroes would we be if we retired having never slain an actual dragon?"

Jack of Fables is a spinoff from Bill Willingham's Fables, starring Jack, who is all the Jacks from nursery rhymes (Jack Sprat, Jack Horner). Here is a look at the last two collections.

Fulminate Blade

With Jack Horner's transformation complete at the end of the last book, the stage is set for his altruistic and naive son Jack Frost to take centre stage. In this book, Jack sets out to slay the giant that is demanding an annual tribute from the world of Landfall.

He soon finds that all is not what it seems and almost everyone he meets has been using him for their own ends.

Although the book consists of a perfectly good story set in the Fables homelands, the adventures of Jack Frost are not nearly as exciting, or funny, as those of his father, or at least they are in a more conventional sense.

So reading this book I found myself missing the antics of the Jack of old, despite the extreme depths that he sunk to in The Great Fables Crossover.

The next collection is the last of this series. I am not sure if this arc an attempt at a reboot that failed or if this is part of the planned route to the end of the series. To be honest it feels like the latter.

The End

And so we come to the final collection of the Jack of Fables comics.

Set an unspecified number of years in the future, this book sees Jack Frost about to retire after years of adventuring and heroic deeds. But just as he is about to call it a day, he is hired to slay a fearsome dragon and agrees, as it is something he has never done before.

However, he finds that he is not the only one to have an interest in this particular dragon.

The best thing about this book is the return of hot librarians the Page sisters, Priscilla, Robin and Hillary, who are on their own quest to reassemble the Great Library and restore their Literal powers.

It is good to see those characters again, possibly for the last time. However, the book spends too much time reuniting us with characters from Jack's past for no great reason other than to be canon fodder in the climax.

This is a disappointing end to what was a good series with no sign of the wicked humor upon which it made its name.

Writers Bill Willingham and Matt Sturges more or less said in an interview that they had run of ideas and there was very little room for pushing the boundaries of the character once it had been revealed that he slept with his sisters.

But to take 15 issues to wrap it up in such a way as they have seems like extreme overindulgence to me. I would have much rather his story had come to an end in the crossover storyline.

Sadly, this book will not be missed by me, and I never thought I would have said that when it was at its height.

Check out a metric tonne of Wesley Kerr's comic reviews in his RevolutionSF blog The Culture.

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