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Fables: Farewell (Issue 150) – Written by Bill Willingham, Illustrated by Mark Buckingham

Fables Farewell Spread coverThe final volume of Fables wraps up several plot lines and serves as a conclusion but not an ending. After all, the Fables are quasi-immortal beings and there will always be more stories for them, even if they won’t be told in the series Fables.

Farewell wastes no time in quickly dispatching two of the primary antagonists of the recent storyline in order to quickly put the pieces in place for the apocalyptic Rose Red vs. Snow White showdown. The reappearance of Bigby Wolf in New York City is breaking down the barriers between the Mundane and Fabletown, exposing the Fables to the Mundanes. Cinderella is dispatched by Snow White to remove Rose Red’s most powerful ally and Snow’s daughter, the North Wind, gathers her own army to aid her mother in the coming war. Rose Red learns a long hidden truth about her mother and the reason for why Rose and Snow can never have a peaceful relationship for long.

All this is fine but the book jettisons the brilliant idea of the inescapable Arthurian framework previously espoused on and replaces it with something else entirely. That was the one part of this volume I really didn’t like. Willingham spent the last 2 books spinning out a new Arthur legend with the standard characters in new roles (Lancelot was Guinevere, Morgana was Merlin, Snow was Morgana, etc.), powerless to stop what was coming, and then did nothing with it. It’s not the first time a plot thread or character was either forgotten or glossed over in this series but it was one of the most egregious simply because of how great the idea was. It doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the ending which is pretty frustrating.

So skipping past that, like all things Fables, readers will not be surprised to find that the conclusion in Farewell is not what you expected but it still works. The finale hits all the right notes and while not a definitive ending, it still closes the door on the series in a satisfying way. A large bulk of the book is taken up with small stories titled “The Last {blank] Story” as in “The Last Prince Charming story”, “The Last Briar Rose Story”, etc. These serve as fitting end caps for the various characters both large and small over the course of the considerable saga. Some get happy endings, some don’t. Some just simply keep on keeping on and that’s the way it should be. There is a last Boy Blue story, and even one last Jack of Fables story where Jack gets his long-coming just desserts, but still (eventually) ends up winning in the end.

Fables is the only long running comic series I have read from start to finish so it is tough for me to say goodbye. It’s been one hell of a ride and despite writer Bill Willingham’s dickish behavior Fables can’t be denied as a crowning achievement in storytelling. Willingham, along with illustrator Mark Buckingham and the legion of artists that worked on the series, breathed new life in to these moldy characters giving them a spark that far surpassed any other rendition. For that he has to be applauded and deserves to take a bow. And probably some of the blame (along with Gregory Maguire) for the glut of “reimagined fairy tales” we’ve been enduring over the last few years. Still, Fables is the king of the genre and for sheer inventiveness and grand scope will likely never be topped.

Farewell gets a 3.5, the series gets a 5.

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