Fables Vol 6: Homelands COMICS RETROSPECTIVE. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Fables Volume 6: Homeland.
Collecting 'Fables' Issues 34-41 .
Written by Bill Willingham.
Pencils by David Hahn (Issues 34-35), Lan Medina (Issue 39)
& Mark Buckingham (issue 36-38&40-41)
Inks by David Hahn (Issue 34-15), Dan Green (Issue 39)
& Steve Leialoha (36-38&40-41)
Last time, Fabletown was having a pretty rough year. Our story started back during WWII, where Bigby Wolf and some buddies socked the Nazis in the kisser, and Bigby took down Frankenstein's Monster, kind of. Then, down on the Farm, Snow White went into labour and delivered a whole litter of lil' wolf kids, who can also fly. Which is pretty freakin awesome, if you ask me. Meanwhile Fabletown's election delivered the expected, but dreaded result for us all, as Prince Not-Actually-That-Charming took control. This time, we find out what Jack did with his stolen fortunes, and what Little Boy Blue was up to with his stolen artifacts!
Chapter 34: Jack Be Nimble Part I. Jack is off to Hollywood! Because where else do you go when you have a lot of money, a lot of ego and almost no morals? His plan? Create the greatest film trilogy of all time! his story? Why... Jack of Stories, of course!
Chapter 35: Jack Be Nimble Part II. Nimble Studios is the king of Hollyweird! Part one of his trilogy has broken every box office record, and the sequel is set to break them again! But hell hath no fury, like a woman scorned...
Chapter 36: Death & Taxes - Chapter One Of Homelands. There's a rumour going around the armies of The Empire. They say the Black Knight is killing innocent tax collectors, and taking all their hard "earned" taxes. But sure, they're just rumours... right? Snicker-Snack!
Chapter 37: The Saint George Syndrome - Chapter Two Of Homelands. The Black Knight's journey continues. And now, he must fight a freakin dragon! But, with his magical cloak, and his vorpal blade, even a dragon must surely fall. Wait... magic cloak and a Vorpal Sword? Why does that sound familiar?
Chapter 38: Petition Day - Chapter Three Of Homelands. As a suspicious new soldier arrives in town, the White Queen decides she must take security into her own hands. But will that be enough to protect... The Adversary!
Chapter 39: Meanwhile... Because Bill Willingham feeds on our tears, we return to Fabletown, much like Mowgli, the last of Bigby's Tourists returning home to check in with the new management. But as a spy is uncovered in the heart of Fabletown, Mowgli must set off on a very important mission!
Chapter 40: He's a long title - Chapter Four Of Homeland.
Little Boy Blue awakens. His cloak and sword removed, he is now helpless in the hands of... Geppetto.
But it's cool, Geppetto is his best friend's dad, and just another helpless prisoner of The Adversary.
The true history of The Empire is revealed!
Chapter 41: Pax Imperium - Chapter 5 of The Homelands.
The History of the Empire continues, and the now revived Pinocchio is faced with a difficult choice.
Little Boy Blue gets everything he asked for, but realises that sometimes getting what you want, isn't really what you want.
Well, DAMN. That was a lot to take in. I mean, the volume begins with a fairly light hearted story of Jack being... Jack, and it all ending exactly how you'd imagine. But then, we get a real barnburner of a tale, and finally answer the question that's been bugging me since day one: Just who is The Adversary! And I can't lie. I'm very satisfied with that answer. Well played, Willingham!
Okay, before we dive into Little Boy Blue's Wild Adventure, I just want to cover Jack's nonsense first.
Really enjoyed this first little slice of fun. The whole thing had a real '50s golden age drama feel to it. All very "The Rise and Fall of *insert any Hollywood legend name*", a lighthearted tale of hubris, success and the inevitable downfall that comes from being an absolute ass to those closest to you. Jack rocks up to Hollywood, throws around a bunch of stolen money, makes his own studio, tell his own story. BUT, because he stays in the shadows, and makes sure that no one ever knows who's really in charge, he hasn't broken any serious laws. Or so he thinks...
Of course, no one gives a damn what Jack thinks, so eventually Jill rats him out and The Beast turns up to set everything to rights, BUT, he's in a tricky spot: Jack has intentionally made himself the most popular Fable in the world. Millions are in love with his tale and his popularity has never been higher: And thus, he is IMMORTAL.
*sets his tinfoil hat firmly in place*
Okay, it's not just me, right? We're all seeing this?
This little tale, seemingly so disconnected from the main story is not JUST telling us what's about to happen, but also how they're going to fix it.
Firstly, the whole story here is "Real power hides behind puppet ruler, because it's easier that way." I don't need to explain why THAT is a reflection of the upcoming plot, but the big part is next:
Jack believes himself all powerful, because he's used his pocket movie studio (that still exists) to massively increase his own popularity, by making a bunch of films with him as the star.
Now, of course he got taken down anyway, because he's a tool... but the studio remains, and Fabletown is still very much a part of it. So, you have to wonder; what's to stop them from quietly instructing the studio to make a bunch of movies about the OTHER Fables, in order to increase the popularity, and thus power, of their own forces before the final battle arrives?
*Thinks back to the terrible Snow White movies that came out a few years back*
And speaking of the Final Battle... Our Adversary has a face, finally!
Okay, I'm going to give myself partial credit on this one. I didn't totally call it, but I was IMMEDIATELY pretty suspicious of Old Man Geppetto.
In fact, there was a whole vaguely off-topic section that I deleted from my Volume 4 Retro, that I'll restate now, because suddenly it's not all that off-topic:
Look back through history, and have a quick look at most fantasy stories too, while you're at it.
Look at every Evil Empire since the dawn of time.
If there is ever a person who has as much power, if not MORE, than the supposed Emperor... who is it?
It's the leader of the military.
In fact, most of the more feared emperors, and certainly the more successful ones, are as feared and successful as they are, because in addition to being the political leader, they're also the military leader.
So, jumping back to the Wooden Men's attempted invasion, do you know what stood out to me? Their ABSOLUTE loyalty. To Geppetto.
They refer to him as Father, they're basically there to retrieve Pinocchio for HIM, everything they're there to achieve, feels directly related to GEPPETTO's desires. Not some, at the time unknown, Emperor. Honestly, I really should have spotted it at the time.
Ah well, hindsight is 20/20 and all that.
I do really love what they did with his evil villain origin story, though. It's not just your basic "I wanted power, so I took it. Deal with it." tales. Geppetto doesn't make a grab for power when he sees his chance, he gets into this whole mess with something vaguely resembling good intentions. But as so often happens, things spiraled rather out of control, and suddenly he found himself the secret emperor of a fairly vast empire.
There are some brief flashes, though, that make me think this story isn't quite as cut and dry and it seems. Sure, Geppetto makes it SEEM like this all just sort of happened. But... when pushed, he shows his real colours. I have to wonder just how much of that story he told is true, and how much of it was just to mess with Pinocchio, and try to make himself seem more sympathetic. I mean, would a kindly old man who just made a few mistakes really have the Blue Fairy hooked up in a closet like that? That shit was GRIMM.
So, while the identity of The Adversary is finally revealed, I have the feeling that his story is FAR from over...
Before I move on, though; before starting this series, if I was asked to name 5 Fable characters off the top of my head, 'Little Boy Blue' would not have made the list. Hell, even now I'm still not 100% sure what story he's actually from...
But man, this volume really made me like him. He's got that real "Farmboy to King" thing going on, that so many '90s epic fantasy leads were all about. And while he's now facing some fairly harsh punishments for stealing a load of powerful magical artifacts and doing a runner, I hope this isn't the last we see of him. Especially as he was seemingly working for Charming the whole time...
I did like that little reveal. Gives me hope that Charming isn't quite as useless as he seems, and that Blue might get off lightly in his trial. Hopefully they'll just send him to The Farm to work with Snow White for a while. I'm sure she could use a hand with her flying, shapeshifting wolf babies!
Overall, Volume 6 was a blast. A classic Fantasy Saga, with some strong action, great characters, a complex villain and a reveal that seemed SO obvious... once you knew what it was. Those are the best kinds of reveals, for me!
Then, we also had a couple of fun tales, to keep the mood light. A classic tale of Hollywood Hubris, and a seemingly filler story with Mowgli, that I feel is going to become very important, in the volume to come. Can't really ask for more than that!
As always, Willingham continues to blend these classic tales with just enough modernity to leave them nostalgic, but fresh feeling. incorporating all the best tropes of High Fantasy, Golden Age Hollywood, and Noir spy thrillers, to really let each of these well known stories shine their brightest.
And, of course, they couldn't burst so vibrantly from the page without the continued great work of the great artists of this series. David Hanh lends his hand to deliver some slick, sharp lines, and clean realism to the Hollywood arc, sharply contrasted against Buckingham's more elaborate, cartoonish style in the Fabletown work. Both artists deliver fantastic work that embodies the style required for the arc, while also not shifting TOO drastically, and making the change jarring for the reader.
But, if you enjoy a jarring change, come back next time for Fables Volume 7: Arabian Nights (and Days), collecting issues 42-47. This Volume opens a new front in the struggle between the Fables and the Adversary as the worlds of the Arabian Fables are invaded, leading to an unprecedented diplomatic mission to Fabletown and a bad case of culture shock! This seventh volume of the popular Vertigo series also includes "The Ballad of Rodney and June," the 2-part story of forbidden love among the Adversary's wooden soldiers.
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.