Fables Vol. 8: Wolves COMICS RETROSPECTIVE. An analogy that aged like soft cheese.


Fables Volume 8 Cover 1. Published by Vertigo.

Fables Volume 8: Wolves.

Collecting 'Fables' Issues 48-51.

Written by Bill Willingham.

Pencils by Mark Buckingham (48-50) & Shawn McManus (Issue 51)

Inks by Steve Leialoha (48-50) & Andrew Pepoy (Issue 50).


Last time, Fabletown had some new guests! As the Arabian ambassador for Fables arrived. Things went pretty well, right up until his sneaky advisor unleashed an unstoppable Djinn, which was defeated by the more than a little suspicious Frau Totenkinder. Then, we had a rather stiff love story, as two of The Empire's Wooden Soldiers met, fell in love, and eloped. Awwww. Now, as Fables hits 50 issues, we celebrate with some old friends, and start a new war...


Chapter 48: Wolves - Part 1. Mowgli sets off on his trickiest mission yet: trying to find Bigby Wolf and deliver some vital information. But, how do you track down a man, who is sometimes a wolf, and always a badass?

Chapter 49: Wolves - Part 2. Turns out, it's pretty tricky. But thankfully, Mowgli is nearly as badass as Bigby, so he manages it. But now, the tricky part: Convincing Bigby to take on his most dangerous mission yet!


This title card comes right at the end of the chapter, for obvious reason.

Chapter 50: Happily Ever After. Double size chapter, woo! In this absolute UNIT of an issue, Bigby Wolf goes behind enemy lines— or, to be more accurate, above them! While there, he seeks out Geppetto, and delivers a rather stern warning to the old bastard. Once he's back, he claims his reward, and throws one hell of a party.


Chapter 51: BIG and small. Cindarella finally finds a mission that is too dirty, even for her. As she forced to engage in the worst profession ever: politics. Acting as envoy to the Cloud Kingdom, she'll do whatever it takes, to make the king sign their treaty. Even if it means getting a little... ratty.

The background jokes in this series are ALWAYS amaaazing,

Well, that was a lot of fun. We started off with a pretty strong, but short tale or Mowgli channeling his childhood to track down Bigby. We then see Bigby using the skills from HIS younger days to sneak in and mess with The Empire a little, before making some statements that would probably get him 'cancelled' on Social Media, before returning home and finally getting the girl. Then, Cindy shows us that Diplomacy is a lot easier, when you have magic at your command... and also that we really need to be more worried about Totenkinder...

I'm not one for the mushy stuff... but that's a KILLER line, Bigby. Well played.

Okay, so... yeah. Not really sure where to start here. Bigby sneaks behind enemy lines, awesome. Blows up the Sacred Grove, savage, really sticks it to Geppetto, which is always a good thing, and weakens the Empire's ability to rebuild its troops for a good few years. These are all very strong points.


But, from the moment I saw the title of that issue, I knew there was no way this could end well, and to the surprise of NO ONE, it didn't. Bigby spends a large portion of the chapter talking about his admiration for Israel, and their war tactics.


Now, I know what you're thinking: Really, Tiggles, you're going to fall down THAT rabbithole?


NO. Of course I'm not. I'm not fucking insane. I wouldn't touch that particular subject with one of Jack's magical 500-foot beanstalks. I WILL just say that bringing a subject like that, which is... volatile at best, into a comic like this feels in WOEFULLY poor taste, especially when it wasn't exactly necessary, either. There were plenty of other choices Bigby could have taken, to explain Fabletown's new attitude towards The Empire. But yeah, I guess it was a different time back in *checks release date* 2006? Yeesh...


However, this does lead me on to a related subject, that I've been pondering a lot recently.


I finally got my hands on the DIE Source books, and I've been reading up on the various classes, and there's an interesting quote in the section for Godbinders:


"Because if you think about it, the difference between 'Cleric' and 'Demonologist' is the same as the one between 'Freedom Fighter' and 'Terrorist'."


It's always interesting to me, how the more popular someone is, the more inclined others are, to forgive them.


It's starting to feel like terms such as 'good' and 'bad' are becoming increasingly more and more relative, these days. I know this has ALWAYS been a problem, and always will, but in the age of the Internet, and Social Media, it's starting to feel a little like it's all spiraling out of control.


Back in day, we all knew that one oddball, who was content to sit in a corner and scream their usually terrible 'hot takes' into the void. And if they were lucky, they might find a handful of people who agreed with them, or at least agreed enough to put up with their nonsense.


But these days, it feels like every crackpot idea just needs to be posted by the right social media account to gather a worryingly large number of followers, and suddenly what should have been a lone crackpot is a whole movement, causing potentially real damage...


To bring this back to something fandom related: When I was growing up, I was a huge fan of Harry Potter. It was a worldwide phenomenon, how could I not be? And opinions seemed pretty clear, amongst everyone I spoke too.


Harry, good.

Ron, good.

Hermione, good.

Snape? The worst (except for Umbridge).

James? A little bit of an unknown, but from what we know, pretty good.


But now? It seems people have decided that Snape is the unsung hero of the whole series, and the greatest literary hero since Atticus Finch. Meanwhile James Potter is a worthless scumbag, who probably would have been an abusive drunk... you know, if he'd lived through his twenties.


It doesn't matter if you point out all the terrible stuff Snape did. It doesn't matter that he spent decades torturing his students, was openly biased for his House and generally made life at school pretty shitty for everyone, outside of the chosen few he considered good enough. To certain people, in the dark recesses of the internet, that is all acceptable behaviour for a grown man, in a position of power. They can come up with a thousand ways to rationalise those transgressions.


And why do they do that?


Because they LIKE him, as a character. And because they like him, they're willing to grant him WAY more leniency, than they would for someone that they disliked, or even liked a little less.


And now, because this is essentially still a review for Fables, I'll try to find a way to bring this back on topic... This might be tricky, I went off the deep end there.

For once, the kids are right. If I could transform into a bear and fly, I would NEVER stop doing that.

Okay, I've got it:


In this volume we see, again, just how much Bigby Wolf does for Fabletown. He sneaks far behind enemy lines, comes as close as he'll admit to being afraid that we've ever seen him, and then goes toe to toe with The Adversary... And his reward for that? They grant him a small patch of land, away from everyone else, to live with his family.


Because saving the Fables over and over again isn't enough to earn him leniency, because people don't like him.


Meanwhile, we see someone like Prince Charming repeatedly fail upwards, and do all manner of terrible things to people... but he's always forgiven, because he's Charming and people like him. It speaks a lot to how twisted Fable society really is. They like to act like they're the good guys in this fight, because they're marginally better than The Empire. But honestly, they don't really have a leg to stand on...

BE AFRAID.

Overall, Fables Volume 8 was another strong addition to a continually solid series. Willingham continues to expand on the lore and society of the Fables, telling interesting and entertaining self contained arcs, while deftly weaving in some very strong threads for the overarching plot.


I know I've said it before, but I need to get a lot of evidence in, so I can point to it when I'm inevitably proven to be correct: but I can't help but feel like The Adversary isn't going to be the real villain, in this tale. Reclaiming The Homelands is a midway point. They'll kick his wooden ass, lock him up and throw away the key... and then just when they think they're safe, the TRUE villain will reveal themselves. Or should I say... herself?


If you want to see if I'm right, or if I'll be able to stay even remotely on topic, come back next time for Fables Volume 9: Sons of Empire, collecting issues 52-59. Pinocchio suffers seriously divided loyalties between his father, the evil Adversary, and his fellow Fable refugees in New York. Plus, Bigby Wolf reluctantly decides it’s finally time to square accounts with his long-estranged father, the North Wind, and makes a journey with Snow White and their kids to find him.


So, if you want to read along, you can find Fables at your Local Comics Shop, or on Comixology/Amazon. But go to the comic shop, they're WAY nicer and need your support a helluva lot more.

This is 100% something I would do. Which is why I'm not allowed to babysit anymore...

 

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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