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Jack Of Fables Vol 2 COMICS RETROSPECTIVE: Jack's luck with the ladies turns a little frosty.


Jack Of Fables. Volume 2 Cover 1. Published by Vertigo.

Jack Of Fables Volume 2: Jack Of Hearts.

Collecting 'Jack Of Fables' Issues 6-11.

Written by Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges.

Art by Steve Leialoha (Issue 6 & 11).

Pencils by Tony Akins (issue 7-10).

Inks by Andrew Pepoy (7-10).


Last time around, we left behind our good friends in Fabletown in their time of need, to go on a bit of an adventure with all-around terror, Jack. This first adventure saw him picked up by the not-quite -as-Mundane-as-they-seem workers of the Golden Boughs: a secure facility where Fables go to be forgotten. Overseen by the oddly terrifying "Mr Revise". Eventually, Jack masterminded an escape—of sorts—but now finds himself and a few other Fables lost high up in the mountains, and it's getting a little cold...


Chapter 6: Jack Frost - Part One of Two. While stranded in the mountains, Jack recounts the time he finagled his way into the powers of Lumi, AKA the Frost Queen. He worked his way into a few other things of hers, too...


Chapter 7: Jack of Hearts - Part One. Once again, Jack finds himself waking up in a strange bed, with a strange lady, and no memory of the night before. And this time, he's married. This should be a fun tale!


Chapter 8: Jack of Hearts - Part Two. Since they're now married and whatnot, it's probably time for Jack to meet his new wife's family. Starting, of course, with her lawyer. Then, we meet Aubrey. Still not really sure why.


Chapter 9: Jack of Hearts - Part Three. Jack is now a widower. And if you think that's done anything to improve his ways, then you don't know Jack... Jack takes a break from womanising and mistreating his friends to meet a local mob boss.


Chapter 10: Jack Of Hearts - Part Four. We find out a little bit more about our new foe, Lady Luck. Then, Jack does what Jack does best: Ruins everything for everyone except himself.


Chapter 11: Jack Frost - Part Two of Two. Jack's frozen tale reaches its chilly conclusion. As Jack uses his near godlike powers to... pick up ladies. Because let's be real here, it's Jack. What else was he going to do with them?


Dunder Mifflin, I assume?

Well. That was a little different. To the usual Fables fare, that is. For stories that involve scumbags going to Vegas, this one pretty much hit all the story points you'd expect. Except that this one had more luck eating quasi-zombies. So, that's something, I guess?


Also had the tale of Jack Frost, AKA: Why Lumi is so mean to everyone. Never thought I'd be siding with the Frost Queen, but here we are.

It's funny, I often find myself starting these Retros with some derivation of the phrase "I don't really know where to begin, here." Often because the volume I've just finished reading was so packed with insane twists, great plots, awesome action, and heartfelt moments that I need a paragraph or two to get my thoughts in order.


And, while this time, I do find myself wanting to start the Retro with "I'm not really sure what to say, here", it's not because I'm confused and unable to line my thoughts up... it's because I genuinely have nothing to say about this volume.


We start and end the volume with Jack Frost. A two part tale about how Jack of Stories is a scumbag, who turned Lumi from a beloved god-monarch who cared for her subjects, into the ice-hearted monster we know from her days working with The Adversary.


And then, somehow, things get worse.

Sacrifce me next, please.

The main 'story' for this volume, is 'Jack of Hearts', the tale of Jack and Pathetic Falacy going to Vegas, trying to scam the people there, sort of succeeding, and then inevitably failing. You know, the way EVERY side story that involves a trip to Vegas goes.


Jack spends the time alternating between trying to make money, and trying to get laid. He very quickly achieves both goals, when he latches onto a wealthy heiress who hates Belgians. She gets blown up, by Belgians, and Jack finds himself the sole heir to her fortune, as long as he uses said money to hunt down the Belgians and get revenge for the heiress and her now dead father.


Along the way, he also runs into Lady Luck, who is eating the brains of everyone that has a lucky day in Vegas, in order to eat their luck. There's also a side plot about a neckbeard with a golden horseshoe that grants him endless luck.


That's it. That fairly simply plotline is stretched into four insanely bland issues, where nothing of interest or note happens. There are no unexpected twists, no real surprises, and based on how it all ends up, no real character growth for anyone. There's also a recurring joke about Pathetic Falacy having sex with a mannequin, that he eventually turns into a human. You'll note, he turns her into a human AFTER he's done having sex with her. She then leaves with the neckbeard, because of course she does.


I honestly don't know what the point of this whole volume was. If it's to establish the fact that Jack is an absolute scumbag, then job done, with bells on. Sadly, we already pretty much knew that, because "I'm a bad person and I don't care" is basically Jack's whole character. If you've got this far into Fables and DON'T realise that Jack is a villain, that's on you.


Honestly, in this whole volume there were precisely three pages that I found funny or interesting... They were buried in the first Jack Frost story, and featured The Librarians showing up to throw in a few informative asides. The first featuring Priscilla Page (One of the sinister Senior Librarians from Golden Boughs), taking a couple of pages to explain about how Lumi and her sisters are the embodiment of the Seasons, and move from Kingdom to Kingdom as and when required, to allow the seasons to change. Then, the final aside is a few pages later, when Mr Revise shows up to explain that everything his employee had previously explained was nonsense, because OF COURSE, there's no such thing as the embodiment of a season, they're just nature moving in a cycle as they've always done.


It's a funny way for Willingham to explain the rules of the world they're talking about, while also remaining totally in character and avoiding huge pages of exposition. Having The Librarians turn up and act very... librarian, but then having Mr Revise turn up and stick to his hardline "Everything is normal, all that Fable stuff is made up!" stance felt so in character, while also being more than a little meta. Especially when he ponders exactly why this book needed two authors...


I'm pretty sure if they touch you and only get frostbite, they're getting off lightly. Jack is the worst.

Overall, Jack of Fables Volume 2 doesn't need to exist. Honestly, I'm REALLY hoping that something important is going to happen later on, that retroactively redeems this volume, because otherwise it really doesn't need to exist, and that makes me sad. This isn't so much a story, as it is a collection of tropes and poor jokes collected in one place for us to point at, when explaining how NOT to write a short tale, featuring known characters.


Akins, Pepoy, and Leialoha bring their art A-game, as usual. Which just makes it all the more annoying that the story was so weak. You have to wonder if the tale of Jack Frost had been as strong as Leialoha's sweeping, fantastical vistas and magical architecture, would this tale have been met a little more favourably? If Jack of Hearts had been as inventive with its storytelling as Akins and Pepoy always are with their landscapes and vaguely creepy character designs, would I actually have enjoyed this fairly bland tale?


Who knows, but I pray that whatever comes next, it's an improvement. Because, frankly, it would tough to be much worse.


If you want to see if things get better, come back next time for Jack Of Fables Volume 3: The Bad Prince, collecting Chapter 12-16! Jack's now a wayward Fable in the heartland of America. Follow his extreme road stories as he reveals the secret of his former relationship with the illustrious Snow Queen (when he took her powers and became known as Jack Frost).


I know, that's the description for Volume 2... But no matter where I look, and how i search, that's all anyone seems to know about Volume 3. So, yeah. Next week is going to be as much of a surprise to you, as it is to me. Fun!


Jack is like Ross Gellar. There's no easier way to make me laugh, than to make him hurt.

 

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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