by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges (writers), Russ Braun (pencils), Jose Marzan Jr. (inks), Daniel Vozzo (colors), and Todd Klein (letters)

The Story: Jack Frost sets out to carve a life of his own as a hero, disowning his mother’s powers and returning to the dead heart of the Empire.

What’s Good: I’m digging the idea of artist Russ Braun taking his revenge on Jack.  Jack of Fables has continuously broken the fourth wall, but this takes it to a whole new, almost Animal Man-esque level.  I’m really looking forward to seeing where this goes and at the very least, it is fun to see an overweight, balding, acne-riddled Jack, who laments that he can’t both be ugly and a jackass.

Once again, I can’t help but find the Page sisters incredibly likable characters.  In an oddly inspiring moment, this month sees Robin, and by extension Willingham and Sturges, acting as motivational speakers as Robin lectures Jack Frost on becoming his own man.  Hopefully this familial bond will reassert itself in future months.

Also, it feels empty and strange and even disturbing visiting the barren, overgrown heart of the Empire.  I really liked seeing the place again and hope that its desolation will continue to be explored in future issues of Jack.  It’s an interesting and dangerous setting that deserves an arc or two.

Meanwhile, Russ  Braun turns in what we’ve come to expect from him.  The character designs for Jack Frost, both powered up and depowered, are nice, with the depowered Jack looking just as he should:  a younger, innocent, “good” version of Jack Horner.

What’s Not So Good: The biggest problem with this issue is that I’m just not buying Jack Frost as a leading protagonist and central focus.  While I do like him contemplating his thoroughly rotten parents, he’s just not a very interesting character.  At times, he comes off as a cliche.  He’s the young man just making his way into the world, trying to be a hero.  What’s worse, he’s defined by his naivety and him being a “nice guy.”  Right now, there’s just not much depth to him. And what’s there just isn’t very interesting or vibrant.  As a result, this issue at times feels more boring than it should, having such a bland character as its lead.  It’s particularly bad given that such a character had to take over Jack of Fables of all comics, where we’re used to having a flamboyant, lively, and impossibly egotistical lead.  It feels like we’ve gone from having an ornate chocolate sundae with all the toppings to a bowl of cottage cheese.

I also really can’t stand this idea that neither Jack nor Gary can remember the events of the crossover or that Gary’s previous powers as the Pathetic Fallacy are also being forgotten.  It just seems lazy, non-believable, and simple.  I hated it when Snow and Bigby forgot everything in Fables, and I’m hating this even more.

Conclusion: Jack and Robin are fun in their respective scenes, but even with a decent action scene, a boring lead character leads to a dry issue.

Grade: C+

-Alex Evans

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