Fables Volume 7: Arabian Nights (and Days)
written by Bill Willingham
art by Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Jim Fern, Jimmy Palmiotti & Andrew Pepoy
Comics / Twisted Faerie Tales
I’m trying to catch up on my Fables collection, so every few weeks I sit down and burn through another volume. Luckily for me I got to read Volume 7 all in one afternoon, which usually works for a book. In this case, however, it worked against it. By reading it all in one go, I felt how slowly the pacing was, how boring the characters featured were, and how much we weren’t getting any scenes with my favorite characters.
Spoilers through Volume 6: Homelands
Unlike some of the thicker volumes, Arabian Nights (and Days) only features two storylines – one involving an emissary from the Arabian Fables visiting Fabletown for the first time and the resulting cultural misunderstandings. The other is a two issue short about two wooden people who want to become human and the price they have to pay. There are some subplots about Mowgli searching for Bigby (he of Big Bad Wolf fame) and Boy Blue suffering the consequences for his unauthorized heroic trek through the Homelands, but mostly we focus on what a failure the current Fabletown regime is.
I don’t like Prince Charming. I honestly wish someone would just kick him in the teeth. He recognizes that he’s a failure at government and yet he continues on as mayor to the detriment of the entire society. Despite all this, Sinbad – an ambassador from the Arabian Fablelands, which are now supposedly under attack – takes him seriously and attempts to create a peaceful resolution that would help his people without causing too much damage to the already existing Fabletown. He has a mustache twirling vizier, who release a djinn after determining that Sinbad has been hypnotized by the Westerners.
In concept the story had potential, but the resolution felt cheap and convenient rather than something that fit within the context of the story. It was one of those “Ha ha! I secretly did this off page three issues back and now it will fix everything!” type of resolutions, as though Bill Willingham had an ultimate goal in mind, but not an idea on how to get to the finish line. Other more potentially adventurous and interesting solutions are set up, most promising with the potential of a fight between the djinn and the North Wind, only for them to be dropped and replaced by the easier, out-of-nowhere solution he ended up using.
The secondary story, “The Ballad of Rodney and June”, about the two wooden people wanting to become flesh has a very satisfying twist towards the end. It’s the fact that I had to slog my way through nearly two complete issues to get to that intriguing twist that left me feeling a little grumpy. Even then, the twist opened up so many doors with no resolution whatsoever. Yeah, yeah, it’s a comic book series. It’ll get picked up again later. Or at least it should. Willingham has a bad habit of bring up interesting subplots, featuring them in an issue or two and then forgetting about them completely. With a cast as large as the one in Fables, it’s impossible to feature all the storylines going on concurrently, but I wish Willingham would at least stop introducing new ones when so many others go unresolved. I’m still wondering what that journalist from way back when is doing.
This is not my favorite volume of the Fables series and I would venture to say it’s the weakest one so far. While the art was consistent and the characterization solid, the plots of both stories don’t add to anything. It was a lot of wheel spinning while what I imagine are interesting things happen off screen. Where’s Bigby? What are all the spies doing? What happens now with the pack of flying wolf babies? Yeah, they popped up in a page or two, but so many storylines have been dropped for so long, I’m beginning to get impatient.
Unnecessary and ultimately boring stories that don’t add much to the canon; mainly features self-indulgent characters with weak moral compasses; please come back Bigby
I purchased a copy of this graphic novel from a vendor at Comic Con sometime in the last three years. I have a bad habit of doing things like that...