Fables Vol. 16: Super Team COMICS RETROSPECTIVE. The (anti)climactic showdown with Mister Dark!
Fables Volume 16: Super Team.
Collecting Fables #101-107.
Written by Bill Willingham.
Pencils by Eric Shanower (issue 101) & Mark Buckingham (issues 102 -106 ).
Inks by Andrew Pepoy (issue 101, 105) & Steve Leialoha (issues 102-106),
Art by Terry Moore (issue 107).
Last time around, Rose Red took centre stage! We travelled back to find out all about her history, her tumultuous relationship with her sister Snow White, and why she is the way she is. Then, in the present day, Frau Totenkinder decided she's was done with Mister Dark and challenged him to a one on one duel. It looked like it was going pretty well, until it wasn't. This week, we basically do the same thing, except this time the filler is a loose pastiche of superhero tropes and it's North Wind who tries to take Mister Dark down solo.
Chapter 101: The Ascent.
We catch up with everyone's favourite former flying monkey Bufkin! Still trapped within the Business Office, Bufkin has decided that it's up to him, and his new status and legendary hero, to find a way out! So, he starts his perilous climb, or to use a different word, his Ascent!
Chapter 102: The Next Big Plan - Chapter One Of Super Team.
Resident sex pest and perpetual child Pinocchio has decided there's only one way to defeat the evil Mister Dark: form a super hero team! So, with a little help from Ozma, King Flycatcher and Bigby he's going to gather the best, most powerful, and most important, the most FEARLESS Fables he can find!
Chapter 103: Selection Day - Chapter Two Of Super Team.
Most of the team is gathered, but a last few must be picked... it's time for try-outs! But will anyone make the cut? Then, in the ruins of New York, Mister Dark puts his plan into play... for Ms Spratt!
Chapter 104: F-MEN! - Chapter Three Of Super Team.
The F stands for FFFUUUCCCKKK YEAH! The team is gathered, the time to attack is HERE! The final showdown with Mister Dark begins... or does it?
Chapter 105: The Wind That Shakes The Worlds - Chapter Four Of Super Team.
North Wind has shown up to have a little quality father and son time with Bigby. Also, he wants to murder his grandson. Because some rules can't be broken, even when you're the one that initially MADE the rules.
Chapter 106: Downfall - Chapter Five of Super Team.
The REAL fight begins! As North Wind and Mister Dark face off. Two titans clash... but who will be left standing? And is the world strong enough, to survive such an epic, brutal showdown?
Chapter 107: Waking Beauty.
Back in the remains of The Empire, a would-be emperor is gathering hordes of "princes" and making them all kiss Sleeping Beauty, in an attempt to decimate his own army with Herpes. I mean, in an attempt to wake her and break the curse that is still gripping his home.
Well... last time around I nearly got fooled by the fake-out final fight, between Totenkinder and Mister Dark. Thankfully, they avoided doing something that silly and drastic. Nope, instead they did it THIS volume, when North Winds blows into town and takes Mister Dark down with almost no effort. Kinda makes the rest of that arc seem a little pointless, but whatever.
Well... I guess Mister Dark is done? I mean, it really seems like he is, now. I thought he was done last time, but then he broke out at the end and they had to run again. This time, it seems like he's locked down tight and they're ready to take back Fabletown etc.
Kind of unsatisfying, right?
I mean, they've spent the last few volumes really hyping up Mister Dark, talking about how all powerful he is. Then, last week, they had Frau Totenkinder burn out all her power to lock him up, and she only managed to keep him out of commission for about 20 minutes.
Then, basically this whole volume was the Fables gathering their best and brightest, building powerful new armour, working on tactics, making fall backs and contingency plans, and basically all admitting that there was a very good chance that if they somehow managed to win, not everyone would make it back...
And then at the last minute, North Wind rocks up and solos Mister Dark in about three pages.
Just, picks his ass up, flies him away from town and locks them both up in his magical box on plot.
I mean, I get it, kinda. This whole volume was a play on various superhero tropes, they REPEATEDLY talk about noble self-sacrifice, and putting it all on the line to make sure their families are safe... so having someone make the ultimate sacrifice was always in the cards.
It just seems a bit odd to spend the entire volume building this team, packed full of long term characters that are all fairly well loved, and then ignore them at the last minute and having a side character just wrap everything up with minimal effort.
I know this is all a bit "Why didn't the Hobbits fly the Eagles to Mordor", but if North Wind was capable of spanking Mister Dark so badly, and if Mister Dark was SUCH a big threat, why didn't he step in before now? I mean, his whole rationale was that he was doing it to save his grandchildren... but they've been there from the start, so... yeah.
I think I'm done with this series.
I've really tried. I've given it MORE than enough chances. Probably too many. But I just freakin can't anymore.
It just feels like Willingham spends a good amount of time setting up cool plots, strong characters and interesting lore, and then ends everything in the most inane possible way.
The end of the Fabletown Vs Geppetto arc was... just about acceptable. Mostly because it happened so early that it was clearly just setting up more interesting things to come.
Then we have the Great Fables Crossover, also known as the Great Fables Waste Of Time. Which, much like the battle against Mister Dark, was 90% set-up, 10% nonsense, 0% satisfactory conclusion.
And now, the third strike... we get a conclusion for the battle against Mister Dark... and it's yet another borderline random occurance. There's the absolute loosest possible set up, some vague allusions towards someone doing something a bit like this, and then the last character you'd expect or WANT to save the day, does.
I just can't bring myself to give a damn about a series that clearly doesn't give a damn about its readers.
Overall, Fables was a huge disappointment. A strong beginning and a great concept, murdered by half-assed execution and a fundamental lack of understanding about what makes a satisfying conclusion to a story arc.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to check the wiki to see what happens to the few characters I give a damn about.
I'll take next week off, and then be back with something new, and hopefully a LOT better, after that.
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.