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Welcome once again to the “You Missed That Issue?” feature in which we feign chastisement while recommending the classic comics you might have missed. From the inimitable Vertigo, we receive Bill Willingham’s brilliant Fables. One hundred issues is an impressive milestone for any comic and the occasion is even more auspicious for a series so consistently impressive as this. So let yourself get excited because there ain’t no party like a Fables party, because a Fables party don’t quit. Seriously, it goes on for quite a while.
As is tradition with this particular feature, I’ll be taking a detailed look at everything that makes this comic great, so please be aware we will be taking a tour through Spoilertown. That said, if you somehow also missed the ninety-nine or so previous issues of the series, the story can be summed up as all our favorite characters from bedtime stories and folklore making a mass exodus from their own lands to a nice neighborhood in New York. Fables #100 wraps up the storyline that concerns the living embodiment of fear coming to town and ruining everyone’s day. Things come to a head as the issue begins with the old woman in the gingerbread house, Frau Totenkinder, squaring off against the villainous Mr. Dark. The fate of both the Fables and the human world are at stake.
The fight between these two titans is a tremendous show of Mark Buckingham’s fantastic art. It is probably the most epic single battle so far seen, as the fighters slash, shapeshift, and trade witticisms. When Totenkinder binds her opponent with candy and forces sugar down his throat to squelch his power, it is a wonderful callback to her origins, despite how far she has obviously come. Of course, Mr. Dark would be no decent sort of villain if he were bested merely by a carefully orchestrated plan and an epic boss fight. He escapes his new prison before the Ewoks can even finish dancing, this time leaving the Fable community without hope of victory.
Tails between their legs, in some cases literally, the Fables are forced to flee for Flycatcher’s protected kingdom of Haven. Frau Totenkinder leaves for good, leaving Ozma as leader of the community’s magic contingent. Beauty finally gives birth to her deceptively normal child by Beast. Interminably rude uggo Mrs. Spratt betrays her former not-quite-friends to Mr. Dark. The whole situation is rather Empire Strikes Back in its bleak but immense changes for the continuity of the story and serves as a fantastic companion to the epic battle that was its lead-in.
Of course, that is only the first 60+ pages. I did mention this was a party. The next forty or so pages serves as a combination fan service/activity book, complete with celebrity cameos, a short story, paper dolls, and more. Honestly, finding out the gorgeous Cobie Smulders is a fan of Fables was one of the highlights of the book for me. Even our friend Michael McMillian is here.
Fables #100 is definitely a special book. All of the art is fantastic, all of the writing is entertaining, and with more than one hundred pages, that is quite a bit of good things. If you can’t find the issue on its own, then you should at least be able to find it in the Fables Vol. 15 trade paperback. If you missed this issue, don’t let yourself miss it anymore.