Bill Willingham’s Fables, vol. 22: Farewell (2015)

willingham_fables22_covThis final Fables volume ended much more nicely than its sister series, Fairest, did. Like most of the Fables-verse, however, it’s still a mixed bag.

Half of this volume — an extra-long 150th issue numbering over 150 pages — is devoted to resolving the looming battle between sisters Snow and Rose, and the latter half is made up of short stories (1-5 pgs. each) giving farewells to as many of the cast as they could squeeze in.

I don’t buy the main arc. I didn’t get it back during “the Good Prince” arc in volume 10, either. The problem with these major plot threads is that every important instance hangs on unknown magic propelling the story forward. Characters like Snow and Rose are given entirely undeserved power out of the blue because it’s simply destiny — the story needs to progress forward — for our heroes suddenly have obscure roles to fulfill because of fantasy-word-vomit excuse. And that random gifting of power is the foundation for all the dialogue, all the conflict, and the final resolution itself. The first half of this maxiseries — a whopping 75 issues — ended the exact same unsatisfying way in volume 10.

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Farewell…

The conflict between these sisters has never felt genuine. It’s a minor tiff, a minor sibling squabble — literally a simple misunderstanding that would be fixed with a short conversation over coffee — and these previously good people are suddenly commanding others to commit suicide missions out of selfishness. I think Snow was the worse for wear here, as her decisions are entirely her own and come off as exclusively selfish, blatantly pushing friends to kill themselves for her. Rose’s motivations are weighted more by that earlier Unknown Magic, or, Blah Blah Destiny Blah Blah.

The conflicts conclude with our heroes realizing this, and deciding to stop. The story’s over. I’m glad it’s a bit of an anticlimax, personally, because: Again, I never bought the destined war between siblings and all of Fabletown. Still, this ending wasn’t good — just a soft petering out — but it could have been worse, and would, I suspect, have felt too drawn out if there was a war taking up an additional 20-40 pages.

The short stories were mostly light-hearted and fun. Some don’t really add anything; some are a bit too ridiculous to imagine as ‘canon’ futures; one even has a three-page anti-feminist tirade for no reason at all other than for the author to have a grumble — but that’s expected, and this is far more low-key than Willingham usually makes it. Others revive old faces from across the Fables-verse, and those cameos are nice to see.

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After 150 issues, the series honestly hadn’t progressed much since that first ‘Legends in Exile’ story arc.

Like most Fables volumes of the preceding five years — excluding the disgusting 19th volume, Snow White, which got completely eclipsed in bad writing and gross misogyny — this final farewell is pretty fun. Despite some very mixed feelings for the author’s work, I had a pretty good time across this 150-issue series.

I’m glad I read it.

I think.

6 / 10

reviewed September 2015, revised January 2017
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