“Cubs in Toyland” has been on of the more disturbing Fables storylines. Unfortunately, it’s also seen some major swings in quality, and we’re only four chapters in. Here’s the official description from Vertigo:
Therese has been missing for days now, leaving Snow and Bigby frantic. If that weren’t bad enough, now Dare can’t be found either! What’s there to do but turn all of Fabletown and all of The Farm upside down and organize a search party? And in the backup story, the revolution in Oz has been called off. Why? Well, it may have to do with the fact that someone went and hanged their leader. Don’t you hate when that happens?
While last month saw one of the series’ more recent high points, Fables #117 lags again. Most of the main story focuses on Therese’s growing dissatisfaction with ruling and Darien’s ill-conceived charge to rescue her. While the toys’ quirks have been extremely entertaining in previous issues, familiarity breeds contempt. Darien’s charge does lead to a great cliffhanger (which is made more interesting by our knowledge that one of the cubs is going to die) but for the most part it still fails to draw us in. Willingham devotes only a single page to Nurse Sprat’s situation in the former Castle Dark, a storyline that has dragged on for nearly a year now with no end in sight.
Even Mark Buckingham‘s artwork takes a downturn this issue: while it remains as detailed as ever, it all disappears in the gray/brown landscape supplied by Steve Leialoha at the behest of Buckingham’s script.
The three page “Revolution in Oz” back-up is easily as entertaining as the entire main story. Getting away from all the threads and complications of the main Fables cast is obviously good for Willingham’s writing, and Shawn McManus‘ art brings the color the rest of the issue so sorely lacks.
Mediocrity is often more painful to watch than outright crap, because you can SEE how it could be good, but that it’s just not working. What makes it even more painful with Fables it how great it used to be.