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Jack Of Fables Vol 4: Americana COMICS RETROSPECTIVE. Why am I suddenly craving apple pie...


Jack Of Fables Volume 4: Americana.

Collecting 'Jack Of Fables' Issues 17-21.

Written by Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges.

Pencils by Russ Braun (Issues 17-20).

Inks by Andrew Pepoy (Issues 17-20) & Steve Leialoha (Issue 20).

Art by Tony Akins (Issue 21).



Last time around, things got considerably more enjoyable, after Jack got stabbed. Because everything is better, when Jack is in pain. From there, things just got worse for old Jack, captured by Priscilla, his true nature revealed to him, things really looked rough for Mr Story... which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. Meanwhile, back in Golden Boughs, our old friend Kevin Thorne got dragged in... turns out he's what's known as a "Literal", he's also Revise's father and Pathetic Fallacy's son. Yeah, I was shocked too. This volume, their family expands a bit more, and Jack gets kicked in the junk. In short, fun times ahead!


Chapter 17: On Eggshells - Part One of Americana.


Jack is up to his usual shenanigans. Once again, with every other attempt having failed horrifically, Jack continues on his quest to become filthy rich. Not content with just being filthy, as he is now.


This time around, it involved following a map on Humpty Dumpty's... shall we say lower shell, which he believes will lead him to a city of gold. He's not the only one searching, though!



Chapter 18: Welcome to Americana - Mind The Zombies - Part Two of Americana.

Jack, Raven, and Mr D find themselves sharing a train with some unexpected guests. Also mention Huck Finn and Jim are there, but let's be fair, we totally expected them. But, before their search for the city of gold can begin... there's a side quest to complete!



Chapter 19: On The Road - Part Three of Americana.

Well, ain't that a stinker. Just when they thought they were free, Jack and his team are cornered by Natty Bumppo and Slue Foot Sue. Yeah, I've no idea who they are either. Meanwhile, after Bookburner's revelations last chapter, Hillary must come to terms with her new heritage.


Chapter 20: Gold Rush - Part Four of Americana.

As Paul Bunyan tries his best to hold up to Bookburner's questioning, Jack and crew reach the city of gold. Then, Hillary makes a HUGE mistake. Technically, she makes a couple, but I think we can all agree one is by far the worst.


Chapter 21: Gary Does Denmark.

Gary can't have anything nice. All he wants to do is put on a production of Hamlet, for the nice people of Golden Boughs. There's only one problem: The people of Golden Boughs aren't actually that nice. They are, to be precise, pretty freakin awful. And no one is worse than Wicked John... Well, maybe Jack. But this is a prequel one-shot story, so Jack isn't in it.


I really hope Paul hasn't been drinking Babe's "Milk"

That was a lot of fun. We had some laughs, Jack got hurt a few times, it told a solid self-contained story while also moving the greater plot forward in unexpected ways, plus, Jack got hurt a few times. We also got some solid character and lore development too, and Jack got hurt a few times. There were some sad parts, though... and I feel like there's more of that to come, real soon. Also, Jack got hurt a few times!


Okay, as a Brit, I feel like I might have missed a little of the nuance, in this particular volume. Up to this point, Fables has overwhelmingly focused on the European side of stories, with a brief foray into the Middle East... But, this time around, we're all American!


This volume, we journey to "Americana", the US's Fable Realm and it's everything you could have expected and so much more. We have cowboys, we have gangsters, and there's even one city that is what can only be described as the American Dream!

You could not pay me to eat that Casserole. And I LOVE Casserole.

And I can't lie... something about the idea that the American Dream, as brought to life by the realm of "Idyll" is now a borderline hellscape populated entirely by zombies does rather tickle me. If we continue with the idea that beings in Fables are only as powerful as the Mundy's belief in them, what does it say about the current world, that Idyll, the land of corner malt shops and friendly neighbours bearing home baked goodies is now filled with the living dead? What does it say about America, and its dreams, when even their idealised realm is basically dead and only going through the motions, rather than actually living and thriving? Who knows, maybe I'm reading too much into things, maybe as an outsider there's something I'm missing here...


Of course, you COULD see this as a hopeful, positive thing. I've spoken before about the poisonous nature of nostalgia, so you COULD see Idyll's current state as a good step forward, in the so-called American Dream. Idyll is the land of men in suits, women in pretty dresses, and everything in its "rightful" place. The fact that it's now barely clinging to life and literally decaying before our eyes, could show that America is ready to move on from that suffocating ideal, and move towards a future where people are free to be whoever the really WANT to be. That would be a far nicer future, wouldn't it?


Of course, if that IS the case, you have to wonder why the Mobster world is still alive and kicking... But let's not dig TOO deeply into that, shall we?


The visual gags this volume were ON POINT.

But, while this volume was mostly a trip through America's fictional history, there WERE some rather important points, for Fables as a whole. While we didn't see anything from Golden Boughs, and our new apparently rather powerful friend Kevin Thorne... we did meet someone who is seemingly just as likely to cause chaos, in the volumes to come: Mr Bookburner! Who is, it seems, Mr Revise's little brother. And Lil Bro is mmmaaaddddddd.


Yup, I didn't think it was possible, but there actually seems to be someone MORE hard core than Mr Revise... Which, I probably should have seen coming. They both have names which refer to (and I'm guessing, they thus embody) the idea of editing or censoring books; but while Mr Revise is the concept of a more surgical strike, revising and editing books to remove sections and concepts you don't agree on, but leaving the book itself whole, his brother Mr Bookburner is... well, I mean it's right there in the name, isn't it? He freakin burns books. He's the concept of utterly destroying story. We can see this perfectly in the way both brothers handle the ever-shifting Paul Bunyan. In Mr Revise's hands, Paul was slowly whittled down, gradually made smaller, weaker, and more —shudder—"normal". However, after ten minutes with Mr Bookburner, Paul was no longer Paul. Literally a pale shade of his former self, existing only as an example under Bookburner's total control.


It's an interesting dynamic that I'm guessing they're going to explore soon; a war between editing problematic stories to make them more palatable, and simply destroying any story you no longer find suitable.


And the fact this all occurs in the same volume that Jack runs into Huck Finn and his friend Jim, just Jim, no other names, makes the whole scenario feel wonderfully appropriate. SO appropriate, than in fact I'd bet every penny I have to my name, that that was their intent.

Babe's asides continue to be my favourite part of this series.

Overall, Volume 4 was another strong volume. Willingham's story continues to go in unexpected but delightful ways; exploring concepts and worlds I hadn't really thought about, in ways that make them extremely relevant to a modern era. Add in Braun's excellent arc which practically DRIPS with retro charm, while putting a vaguely twisted edge onto every page, and you're left with an extremely satisfying, almost satirical tale. Like a slice of apple pie, spiked with chili powder.


And, all of this sets the stage for what is shaping up to be an extremely interesting showdown between Mr Revise, Mr Bookburner, and Fabletown! Who will win: Censorship, destruction... or the freedom to tell your own story?


I really hope it's the third one.


If you also hope Fabletown wins, join me next time for Jack Of Fables Volume 5: Turning Pages, collecting chapters #22-27! Get ready for Jack’s adventures out West, as Smiling Jack Candle crosses paths with a grim sheriff from back East who carries no gun. Also, if you've read this far, congratulate me on making it through this whole retro without a single The Offspring joke. I think that's pretty fly, for a white guy. DAMMIT.


OUCH! Right in the dangle-bags.

 

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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