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The Knight's Shelf: Jack of Fables #50

Jack of Fables finally reaches its end with this landmark issue, but is the book worthy of the Fables name?



Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:


Jack of Fables #50



Writers:
Matthew Struges and Bill Willingham

Pencils: Tony Atkiins
(Pages:1 - 15, 20 - 38 (Layouts for Pages 16 - 19)), Russ Braun (Pages 16 - 19)

Inks:
Andrew Pepoy (Pages 1 - 15, 21- 23, 33 - 38), Dan Green (Pages 16 - 19), Bill Reinhold (Pages 20, 24 - 32)

Colors: Daniel Vozzo
Letters: Todd Klein
Assistant Editor: Gregory Lockard
Editors: Shelly Bond and Angela Ruffino

(Cover by Brian Bolland)



Solicit Info:

This is it! This is where it all happens! Does Jack Frost slay Jack Dragon? Does Jack Dragon eat his own kid? Will the Page Sisters rebuild the Great Library? Will Gary finally get to sing a show tune on Broadway? We don't know, because its contents are so secret, even WE aren't allowed to read it, but they tell us that the answers to all these questions will be provided. It's oversized, with extra pages, extra action, extra drama, and extra Babe, the Miniature Blue Ox! And you have our personal guarantee that not every single character will die! Oh, and one more small thing we should mention — it's the final issue of the series.




Review:


How would you end the adventures of Jack Horner? Would you leave the future open for new stories, or would you have the story flame out in a blaze of glory? In addition, there's still the question of the legacy that this series (and the titular) character leave behind. What about the legacy this series (and Horner himself) will leave to future writers? All this and more, below!



In the early days of "Fables," there were three characters that stood out and eventually became the first stars of a dynamic franchise. Two of these characters were Bigby Wolf and Snow White, who were not only compelling three-dimensional characters but were also the focus in the early days of the main series. Who would eventually become the third star character would've been the subject of debate in those early days, due to the fact that other characters got equal or even greater focus than the one that would come to stand out. However, with hindsight on our side, we can now truly see that his status was never in question at all, and that third star was none other than Jack Horner.


For "Fables" fans, Horner always sparks discussion; he's a topic that definitely proves the saying: "Talk to a thousand people, and you get a thousand opinions." There are aspects of Horner that are almost universally agreed upon, particularly the fact that he is an unrepentant asshole who embodies the worst in humanity in everything he does, which has been shown in explicit detail throughout his own series. To merely call him a selfish, arrogant, sexist piece of shit would be putting him in a positive light. The differences in opinion are mostly derived from what his role in the stories should be, and once you take a look at the discussion dynamic there appears to be four main groups (with many levels in between those groups): tolerance, dislike, and outright hate of Horner's appearance in "Fables."


The fourth group is made up of fans (like me) that love the dynamic that Horner brings to this universe at large. To us, he provides a vehicle to explore viewpoints (some of which call out Fabletown's ingrained hypocrisy), situations and stories that wouldn't be possible otherwise. It is also thanks to his story-changing dynamic that we were treated to a series that provided nearly five years of entertainment; years that opened up a side to this universe that couldn't had been explored the way it was, otherwise. For us, Jack of Fables #50 is a bittersweet moment where it all comes to an end. Does it give the fans the one final dose of the craziness they've come to love? The answer to that question is waiting just below.


When it comes to reviewing Jack of Fables #50, this particular reviewer is of two minds. On one hand, the story of this issue delivers on the promise made by the creators' months ago when the final issue was announced. For those who aren't in the know, the main storyline of the past four issues has led numerous groups of characters (each with a different motivation) to a place where all accounts will be settled one way or another, and by "all accounts" meant a battle of apocalyptic proportions. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the last issue of Jack of Fables is little more than an extended fight scene, but it's a fight scene that's going to be a top contender for "Fight of the Year" in this medium. From the first page, where Horner declares that this will be an end game, we are led through a 30+ page fight scene that forces readers to turn each page just to get a glimpse of what happens next. The plot does its part to keep the reader engaged by introducing twists and turns that range from compelling to humorously sadistic. It all adds up to one of the most beautiful train wrecks that you will ever lay eyes on in this medium, period. It is unfortunate that the story itself doesn't hold up beyond the sheer brutality that is provided on a face value level.


Despite the fact that this final issue has a gloriously written fight scene, it is impossible to ignore the uglier aspects of this story, which exposes one of the negatives of creator-owned comics: the creator becoming tired of the story that he's created. With hindsight being 20/20, the beginning of the end of this book can traced back to the end of the "Great Fables Crossover" in June 2009, and the subsequent change of focus to The Adventures of Jack Frost, whose pace was too much of a departure (and by comparison, far too boring) from the madcap, multi-layered books of the past. This reviewer felt the end coming with the stealth transition to bi-monthly releases (starting with Issue 46), which killed much of the surprise of the final issue announcement in November. Even having roughly five months to prepare for the inevitable couldn't help me to suppress thoughts about how not only was their loads of storyline potential being thrown away, but also how rushed things had been from the beginning of the arc to this point. Considering that the franchise as a whole is known doing neither, it feels even more wasteful in the grand scheme of things.


Even though I am divided on the plot, there is one thing that this reviewer (and mostly everyone else) will find indisputable, and that's how amazing the art in this issue is. To say that the art team pulls out all the stops on this issue feels like an understatement. For starters, the art direction oozes quality; the grandiose fight scene unfolds in single and double page spreads, which lend themselves to stunning visuals as that the whole art team, from pencilers down to the letterist, put their talents on display. If I had to pick one moment where it all comes together, it would have to be the final eight-page climax, which is nothing short of sequential art perfection. You could go over this book five times over and still find something to be artistically impressive; and it will ultimately be what this issue is fondly remembered for.


With "Jack of Fables" now in the history books, it is safe to ask the question "What kind of legacy will the book and the character leave behind?" Like anything else to do with Horner, this question is bound to have a multitude of spirited and opinionated answers. That being stated, let me be bold enough to say that "Jack of Fables" (and by extension, Horner) paved the way for what the "Fables" franchise has become. Releasing a spinoff from a successful property is always a risk, and when this risk was rewarded with sustained success it opened the doors for other projects (comic or otherwise) to explore a universe that may have decades of stories waiting to be told. In that context, I guess you can say that Horner really was a pioneer.


In conclusion, this reviewer feels that Jack of Fables #50 (and to a moderate extent the "Jack of Fables" storyline) will be seen in multiple ways. There will be fans who find beauty in such a cataclysmic ending, while others will feel sadness at the destruction of a unique aspect of the "Fables" universe that still could have been explored. You'll have fans that will praise the creative team for ending the book in the style that it lived, and on the same lines you'll have other fans that are going to feel that the creative team quit on the book. You'll have fans that'll be glad that the book is over, and you'll have fans who'll only understand what's happening when they follow the tale from start to finish. And at the end of the day, every one of these fans will be right. In some ways, such an ending is a proper tribute to what this book was, and what the main character has and will be.



The Verdict:

Story **1/4: This issue ends with a bang, with a fight scene for the ages. A fight scene that is well-written, but a shallow unfitting end to a story that still had much more to give

Art *****: Jack of Fables #50 is simply beautiful to look at, from the amazing art direction, to the masterful details that are dripping from each page, the art of this book is simply genius.

Accessibility **3/4: There are definitely multiple ways to look at this book, but unless you have moderate knowledge of the characters, plots, and the storylines that bind this book together, it's little more than a five-dollar fight scene.


Final Judgment: **3/4 Above Average




The Knight's Shelf: Jack of Fables #50

The Knight's Shelf: Jack of Fables #50

The Knight's Shelf: Jack of Fables #50

The Knight's Shelf: Jack of Fables #50

The Knight's Shelf: Jack of Fables #50


Review by: Linwood Earl Knight
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