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Thursday, August 06, 2015

Review: Fables #22 - Farewell

"This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper." T. S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men" is as good a description as any of the last Fables graphic novel, titled "Farewell."

In many ways, Fables was a victim of its own success: with a video game, several spin-off comic book titles, and a run spanning well over a decade, there came a point where the story wore out its welcome.

In recent issues, Willingham managed to kill Bigby Wolf, one of the fan favorites. Of course, death in the world of the fables isn't necessarily permanent, and he comes back, albeit in changed form. I don't know when Willingham decided to end the series, but in many ways the ending feels rushed: not only does Wolf's resolution feels rushed and hurried without any real explanation (or at least, an explanation that can carry weight in the milieu of the Fables), the final epic battle is also averted with far too much common sense, but without a sense of a dramatic reveal that characterized the best of the series.

It's interesting to see Willingham even acknowledge (through one of the characters) that in many ways, Fables should have ended with issue #100, with the defeat of the adversary. In many ways, the 50 or so issues after that climatic event felt like treading water. Though there are a few gems, (Fables #18: Cubs in Toyland in particular evoked such strong memories of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman that I checked the credits page to make sure it wasn't a Gaiman story) the worst of the series felt like the author was drunk on success and too rich to care any more.

In any case, this final volume is a celebration, with lots of little stories celebrating some of the characters in the series. It's unfortunate, however, that in many cases, the characters were not fleshed out enough for me to care (or in some cases remember) about them. Nevertheless, Willingham's to be commended for not pulling a Robert Jordon and dying before finishing his epic, a rare trait in these days of multi-volume epics that are abusive of readers (graphic and prose) otherwise.

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