By: Bill Willingham (story), Phil Jimenez & Steve Sadowski (pencils), Andy Lanning & Andrew Pepoy (inks), Andrew Dalhouse (colors)

The Story: Ladies, you are two bikinis and some mud away from a showdown of a lifetime.

The Review: We’re all still nerds here, right?  Does anyone know Mugen, that thing on YouTube where people would pit characters from various games and shows and see who would come out on top?  There’s nothing scientific to these things; it’s just a bunch of geeks playing out the most random speculations (“Wolverine versus Paine, Berserker Dressphere, from Final Fantasy X-II—who would win?”) to absolutely no point whatsoever.  Pure nerdery for its own sake.

If you get a big kick out of this issue, certainly far more than you did from any issue prior, it most likely has everything to do with seeing the Snow Queen face off against the great faerie Hadeon.  It definitely has that flavor of fantasy fulfillment—something which Fables does a lot, come to think of it.  It is never not enjoyable/hilarious watching two figures from fairy tale classics get all Rambo on each other.

Besides her spectacular displays of power, Lumi’s thoughtful musings on her own future as she essentially fights for her life proves definitively that this whole arc has really been her story, her journey of self-discovery.  For us mortals, that usually means trying to get some idea of what to do with our short-lived lives.  For Lumi, who has all the time in the world to do as she likes, it’s not really about discovering her sense of purpose, but her sense of herself.  When she says she’s “mad” about stories, it’s really the first passionate thing she’s uttered for quite some ages.

Even an immortal who realizes what truly makes them happy would look back on all their time spent doing other things as needlessly, tragically wasted.  Unwilling to waste any more, she decides to rely on the very things she loves–stories, rather than whatever martial skills she developed as a commander of the Empire—to win the day against Hadeon.  And now we have seven faerie godmothers about to show they’re fed up with their evil colleague’s crap, Untouchables style.  How can that not be delightful?

Seems a pity to have to turn our eyes back on Briar, Ali, and Jonah, who seem very small and inconsequential against the great powers in battle before them.  Still, I must say, Willingham gets you to like Briar a whole lot more than you’d ever expect to.  For someone so richly blessed with all the graces a princess could dream of, her reaction to seeing her childhood antagonist is wonderfully crude: “Sonofabitch!”  If it feels like she bears no resemblance to the sweet Sleeping Beauty of myth, it’s not because she lost all those graces she was born with; it’s that  she sees no value to them when they’ve never earned her true love, the one thing she was destined for.

We don’t really need another example of Jimenez’s talent other than the fact he can manage to make fairies, even the dwarfish, dumpy ones, look like total badasses, right?  The battle between Hadeon and the Snow Queen looks intense and furious; when Haden drives her sword into Lumi’s shield, you can feel the force and weight by the gritted teeth and expression on Lumi’s face.  After this arc, DC really needs to find some ongoing to put Jimenez on, because he is clearly a star who can do most anything.

Conclusion: In comics, a good brawl makes up for a lot, and this one has the added bonus of involving some very original combatants.  Good times.

Grade: B+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – From Jack to Ali.  Lumi sure has a gift for seeking out the bad boys of the Fables universe, though Ali’s a better sort than most.