By: Bill Willingham (story), Mark Buckingham (layouts), Russ Braun (finishes), Lee Loughridge (colors)

The Story: Rose begins to regret all those times she ever dozed off during history lessons.

The Review: A few months ago, back when Rose started this new Camelot business, I questioned the wisdom of modeling her enterprise after a fable that so clearly went wrong in the end.  And considering the nature of these characters, you could guess that they’d be more susceptible to foreordained endings than most.  But that’s the nature of Rose’s virtue, isn’t it?  Always hoping that things might turn out differently this time around?

Not to disparage hope, but it’s clearly going to take a lot more than positive thinking to get over the doom of Camelot.  Rose would be wise to take to heart the wisdom and knowledge of no less than the original Lady of the Lake herself.  Although Lake states that fate itself—or should I say, the Fates themselves—poses the biggest danger to Rose’s plans, such forces require instruments to come to pass.  A lot of our interest in this storyline, therefore, is speculating who will take on the roles Guinevere, Lancelot, Morgan le Fey, and Mordred played in the first Camelot’s fall.

Right off the bat, Willingham seemingly eliminates the remaining original players from reprising their roles.  Although Lake quickly reveals the vagabond knight as Lancelot, he is determined to minimize his standing in Rose’s cadre of knights (“Call me None, for I am no one.”), interested only in an opportunity to “remove a link or two from my chain of sins.”  Similarly, Morgan le Fey (a.k.a. our very own Green Witch) has no interest in repeating past crimes, now that she’s agreed to be more of a Merlin figure this time around.

With both the sorcerer and king (Rose, obviously) positions filled, that basically leaves the baddie spots for others to step into.  Lake identifies “two sources of crisis in your basic Camelot scenario.”  The “unfaithful spouse dilemma” is unusual in the sense that Rose has no spouse to be betrayed by at the moment, which makes it even harder to figure out who the treacherous friend will be.  As for more direct antagonists (e.g., Morgan le Fey and Mordred), Lake casts her eye on Snow and the Cubs, sensibly pointing out the familial connection and the recent animosity with Rose.

But this is a very literal way of making connections between past and present, which may be more misleading than helpful.  Encouraging Rose to look out for unfaithful lovers or resentful siblings only prevents her from focusing on the very real dangers in her very midst.  There’s Brandish, whose buttons get pressed a little harder with each issue and the new labors Weyland devises in it.  And of course, Leigh pops up every once in a while to remind you that she has yet to make her play.  This time, she shows a big card in her hand: the missing piece of Bigby’s glass form, which Ozma stated required enormous power to conceal.  Query: where did Leigh come by that kind of power?

To an undiscerning eye like mine, there’s not much difference between Buckingham’s work when he has someone finish it for him, as opposed to when he draws it himself.  If anything, all I see is an ever so slightly tighter line, which is an improvement, however marginal.  Otherwise, this is the same dependably accurate art you’ve come to expect from Fables, with the same dependably accurate colors from Loughridge, no more, no less.

Conclusion: Good ol’ Fables, the most reliably solid series from Vertigo, if it’s no longer the most groundbreaking or exciting one.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Let’s be honest here.  If you opened up a stranger’s door and suddenly encountered the destined love of your life and it was a chubby seven-year-old who still says “poop,” wouldn’t you want to drink yourself into oblivion, too?  I know I would.

– Hmm…  So Rose has some magical powers, does she?  As does Snow?  And both inherited them from their mother?  This doesn’t count as jumping the shark, does it?