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Fables Vol. 15: Rose Red COMICS RETROSPECTIVE: Happy endings are just stories that haven't finished.

Fables Volume 15: Rose Red.

Collecting Fables #94-100.

Written by Bill Willingham.

Pencils by Mark Buckingham (issues 94-98, 100).

Inks by Steve Leialoha (issues 94-98, 100), Andrew Pepoy (issues 96, 100)

& Daniel Green (issue 97-98)

Art by Inaki Miranda (issue 99).

Last time around, the residents of Floor 13 had a busy old time. Frau Totenkinder gave herself a bit of a makeover and then set off on a grand adventure, and the others got together to decide who should be in charge, now that she was gone. Meanwhile, in the remains of the old business officers, Bukfin fought a brutal guerilla campaign against Baba Yaga and a Djinn, and somehow, managed to win. Now, it's time for Rose Red to rise from bed. Because it's time to sort this mess out!

Chapter 94: The Barbara Allen Incident - Chapter One of Rose Red. (The Barbara Allen Incident sounds like a shitty hipster indie band). While everything approaches total chaos at The Farm, Rose Red finally receives a messenger she's willing to listen to. Meanwhile, Beast makes a potentially dangerous deal with The Blue Fairy, to stop her kicking Geppetto's ass. Seems like a really bad trade, if you ask me.

Chapter 95: Snow White & Rose Red - Chapter Two of Rose Red.

It's flashback time, people! We're traveling back to where it all started, to find out the real story of Snow White and her sometimes awesome/sometimes awful sister, Rose Red. This particular section details their childhood and has evil dwarves and a pretty cool bear.

Chapter 96: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - Chapter Three of Rose Red.

Snow White and Rose Red meet a real life prince! I'm assuming his name is Andrew, because he immediately proposes marriage to these two children. Of course, neither set of parents wants that to happen, so they arrange for some of the usual magical nonsense to happen. I can't lie, this chapter has a LOT of implied sexual assault in, watch out.

Chapter 97: Dark Age Party Girl - Chapter Four of Rose Red. (Dark Age Party Girl is another great name for a shitty band). Rose Red has joined her sister at the castle, and is now also a real life princess. She's also a real life nuisance to all involved. Back in the present, she proves how much she's grown by being awesome.

Chapter 98: Red Dawn - Chapter Five of Rose Red. GREAT film. Dumb as hell, but great. There's a storm coming. Mister Dark's influence is growing and The Fables realise that the big battle is going to be SOON. But first, they have to deal with the threats a little closer to home...

Chapter 99: Dark City. Another GREAT film. Rufus Sewell, Jennifer Connelly, Richard O'Brien. An underrated Noir masterpiece. We take a little more time to get to know Mister Dark, as Grandpa Wind delivers the formal notice of Fabletown's challenge: Duel Frau Totenkinder, one on one, winner takes it all!

Chapter 100! Single Combat. How do you celebrate an epic milestone, like hitting 100 issues? Why, with 100 pages of epic content, how else? In this landmark issue, Frau Totenkinder goes one on one with Mister Dark! And then, we have a few excellent short tales and some more hilarious Q&As!

Yup! Friends for EVER!

Well... That was certainly unexpected. I wasn't really sure what this volume was going to be about, just from reading the outline. Somehow, it managed to be exactly what I was expecting, while also being totally unexpected. Which is pretty impressive, when you consider I'm up to about 20 volumes of FablesVerse content by this point. You'd think I'd be a little more familiar with how Willingham works, by now...

That's actually a pretty solid plan. Probably should have let her do it...

At various points, while reading this volume, I started mentally composing this opening paragraph. Initially, it was going to talk about how this WAS an interesting volume, but seemed a little filleresque. While I do like the character of Rose Red, it seemed a little odd to have a whole volume about her, in the middle of the war with Mister Dark.

Then, as I read issue 99, and started on issue 100, it was going to be about how while Totenkinder's fight with Mister Dark was certainly entertaining, it felt a little odd for him to fall so easily, and how after all that build up the battle wasn't really as epic as I'd hoped.

And then, as I finished issue 100 and saw how that mess all played out, I'm left sitting here thinking... damn, that was a really crazy ride.

As anyone that has gotten this far into my Fables Retrospectives will know, I'm not exactly without critique when it comes to this series. But this was quite a volume.

First things first, Rose Red.

So, the lion's share of this volume deals with a brief history of Rose Red. It's a solid tale that greatly expands the history of a character who has been rather central to Fables, but remains a relative unknown to me, within the world of ACTUAL Fables.

I can't lie, Red doesn't come off THAT well, in this tale. We're all familiar with Snow White's adventures. Even if the version we've heard before isn't quite as unnecessarily NSFW as the version presented to us here. And then, amidst this tale of tragedy, trauma, and eventually marrying a wolf, we have Rose... who seems to have spent the last few centuries punishing Snow White for breaking a promise made as children. Rose comes off as spoiled and rather spiteful, which is pretty in keeping with how she acted all the way back in the very first volume of this saga.

Which makes it all the more satisfying, seeing the present day, post The Farm version of Rose finally come back to life and start really dealing with everything she's been through of late. There's no better way to show JUST how much she's grown as a character, than by showing what a terrible person she was back in day. Seeing her clean up, get out of bed, and in about 30 seconds put The Farm back on track was pretty awesome. Seeing the way she so deftly handled the various factions, who were all moments away from about five different major conflicts was incredibly impressive, and just goes to show that putting her in charge of The Farm really was the best idea... despite what I might have said, at the time. Glad to have you back, Rose!

Rookie move. Everyone knows if you're going to kill a princess you do it in a tunnel in Paris.

But it's not all triumphant returns and happy reunions... Because Mister Dark is still out there being all edgy and '90s, and something must be done!

And so arrives issue 100, a grand duel between Frau Totenkinder and Mister Dark! yeah, I'm as surprised about that as you are. It seems a little out of left field, but I must say their big clash WAS a lot of fun. It's great to see Totenkinder really cut loose and show just how powerful she really is (although, I don't think we quite saw ALL of her powers, but that's just me...) and for a while there, it really did look like she had Mister Dark out for the count.

But that would have been fairly unsatisfying, wouldn't it? I know this is issue 100 and it SEEMED like they were setting up to tie this all off there... but I would have been pretty annoyed if it had really played out like that. After all the build up and planning, all the plots and deals, to have Mister Dark get taken down solo would have felt a little to Deus Ex Machina for me. And since Dex left with the other Literals, that's just not allowed anymore!

So, The Fables are forced to retreat again. Falling back to Haven, while Bigby does a little searching to try and find a new Fabletown for them all to live in, and the war with Mister Dark goes on for a little while longer.

And Frau Totenkinder, who only pretended to die, sneaks off to be with her new fancyman who she met last volume...

I swear, if that's actually how they write out Totenkinder, I'll never stop complaining. It's not just me, right? That's a SUPER weak way to deal with probably the most interesting character in the whole series. Totenkinder has been an ongoing mystery since pretty much the start of this series and it REALLY felt like they were building her up to be something super important. If she just tries and fails to take down Mister Dark and then retires I'm going to be so disappointed.

I mean, there's so much about her that we don't know yet, it seems like such a cop-out to have her just wander away like that.

Honestly, I was all but convinced, considering they really made a point of the fact that if Mister Dark was killed he'd just take over someone else's body, and then REALLY drew parallels with Beauty going into labour as the final showdown was happening, that they were going to "kill" Mister Dark and then have him take over Beauty's kid, to potentially return and cause some chaos further down the line.

But instead, he just broke out of his containment, Totenkinder wandered off into the sunset and it feels like we've had a huge "reset to default" button pushed on the whole series.

We're 100 issues in, The Fables are still refuges from their homelands, pushed out of their homes by a mysterious and all-powerful leader that they seemingly have no hope of defeating...

I can't wait to see how they resolve this, I guess?

Overall, Volume 15 was a very entertaining read. Rose Red's history was exactly the kind of thing I expected from this series. Taking a classic fairy tale and presenting it in a new, darker way. Maybe a little TOO dark, at points, but that might just be me. Then, the war against Mister Dark continues, after something of a false finale. I'm not sure HOW they're going to wrap all this up, but I kinda feel like it needs to be soon.

If you agree, come back next time for Fables Volume 16: Super Team, collecting issues 101-107. Now why would we saddle a FABLES book with a title like “Super Team”? And why does snotty little Pinocchio think he needs to design tight-fitting costumes for a carefully selected group of Fables?

He's right, people. You can't argue with science!


Taheg Gloder is a Freelance Copywriter from England. Obsessed with comics and Manga since his teens, he now splits his time between writing comic reviews and retrospectives for POP, and doing reactions on his YouTube Channel, The Dragon & The Hound. He lives alone, because he’s a hermit.

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