Those of you who are dying for answers in the five-time Eisner Award-winning series Fables can’t miss this volume. Besides discovering where Jack has leapt off to, this collection gives the full back-story to who the Adversary is that ousted the Fables from their homeland.
The first storyline follows Jack as he travels to Hollywood to make it big as a high-profile reclusive Hollywood producer. With the money he stole from Fabletown and under the pseudonym John Trick, he establishes a studio and within a few years puts out the “Jack Tales Trilogy,” the semi-autobiographically but mostly outlandish adventures of Jack that rocks the box-office. But do his transgressions violate the pact of Fabletown and possibly put him at risk of being put to death?
This light departure from the more serious plotlines of Fables serves a two-fold purpose. It explains Jack’s disappearance as well as providing a lighter character story for readers who face a much darker story in the pages to follow.
The second story arc follows the adventures of Boy Blue as, over the course of several years, he infiltrates the Adversary’s army and comes face to face with him. But Blue quickly discovers that not all is as it appears. He finds out the true face of the enemy and how the Adversary has amassed such a giant empire. Once equipped with the knowledge, can Boy Blue escape from the clutches of such a powerful foe?
Forty issues into the series and Fables still spins a fantastic tale. While expanding its cast of folk characters, writer Bill Willingham manages to give great new insights to some of the story’s favorite characters. Spanning five years, this volume is interestingly devoid of Snow White and Bigby Wolf. Instead, the new Mayor Charming and Sheriff Beast conduct the politics and law-enforcement of Fabletown, which includes rooting out a spy who has been passing on information to the Adversary for years. The fragile pact that keeps Fabletown together is teetering on the edge.
While Jack’s story arc lacks action, it holds humor and amusement. However, the action-packed adventures of Boy Blue are tempered with sometimes too-long and drawn-out explanations of the Adversary’s history. Mark Buckingham does an amazing job in his drawing of the Homelands story. Throughout the first half, as Boy Blue battles his way to the Adversary, Buckingham uses full-page borderless panels that reveal action and continuity throughout the entire page. These open panels contrast drastically with the second half of the story, in which Boy Blue spends much of the time in a cage. The pages of these stories are bordered on the sides by panels of the environment outside whatever dwelling they are in. That is, while in a house in the story, the side panels of the page reveal the outside of house, thereby rendering the panels in the middle as a prison or capsule unto themselves. The contrast creates a claustrophic vibe that illuminates Blue’s situation.
This graphic novel answers many of the questions aroused by the first mention of the Adversary and explains just why the characters of Fabletown had to leave their homeland. Providing both light and heavy stories, Homelands propels the storylines of Fables into a number of different directions, and one can only wait with great anticipation to see how they play out.