by Bill Willingham (writer), Mark Buckingham (pencils), Steve Leialoha & Andrew Pepoy (inks), Lee Loughridge (colors), and Todd Klein (letters

The Story: Bufkin continues to wage his guerrilla war against Baba Yaga while back home, Ozma makes her move.

What’s Good: As has been the case with this entire arc, Bufkin’s portions are undoubtedly the strongest and most enjoyable of this issue.  The little guy versus big guy dynamic that has fuelled much of Fables’ appeal since its inception continues to be an infectious one.  What we get this month borders on slapstick, with Bufkin springing or working on a couple of traps.  This gives his scenes a really fun, “Home Alone” feel, as the unwitting Baba Yaga falls prey to Bufkin’s cunning.  Indeed, the spirit of last month’s awesome last scene is sustained and amplified as the flying monkey becomes an increasingly legitimate force while the innocence that has made him a fan favourite far is still maintained.

Bufkin is not the only source of comedy however, as King Cole also shows his lovable side.  His happy avarice and general love is all good fun and a self-aware bright spot in a storyline and status quo that has at times been pretty damned dark.  It’s nice to see something go right for the Fables for once.

Speaking of dark, it’s great to see that not only has Willingham not forgotten about Gepetto, but that the writer also seemingly has big plans in store for the character.  Though it’s only a page, this may be the most intriguing moment of the book.   It’s testament to Willingham’s abilities that a character who’s been all but forgotten for so many issues can still carry such magnetism and importance when he does show up.

Finally, while it was inevitable, the ending of this month’s issue is all kinds of awesome, featuring a familiar addition to the cast who is a certifiable badass.

Meanwhile, Mark Buckingham once again brings the artwork you’ve come to expect of him, both distinct and detailed.  Outside of one admittedly off headshot of Bigby, Buckingham remains incredibly consistent.  His Baba Yaga remains awesome as ever.

What’s Not So Good: The scenes involving Ozma’s attempts to wrest control of the 13th floor felt overly long and somewhat overwritten.  It simply felt as though there were too many words spent on reaching a fairly basic and logical endpoint, with none of it feeling particularly interesting or shocking.  It’s a shame, as the rest of the book is really quite a lot of fun save for this extended dry spot.  While it’s good to see the other magicians get a few lines for once, it doesn’t change the fact that things were a bit drawn out.

Conclusion: A really solid issue of Fables that does little wrong, as it sticks to the formula that’s made the series a success.

Grade: B+

-Alex Evans