For some reason, this issue was difficult to find. I missed it the week it came out because it’s not on my pull list and I don’t go to the comic shop every week, so I was trying to get it a few weeks after and had to hunt around for it a little. Fortunately, I have lots of local options, ranging from the dingy fire hazard nearest my home to the very professional local chain and some nice shops in between.
When I finally did track this issue down, I think I had built up a lot of anticipation in my mind, because the series had been so good and if the issue is hard to find that mist mean it sold well, so good sales equals good comics, right? There’s nothing really wrong with this issue, it’s just a victim of it’s own pacing. The big reveal came in issue Five after being pretty blatantly hinted at in issue Four, so when it came time to deal with it in this issue, there wasn’t a lot of drama left.
I guess there is the always cathartic scene when your hero gets to obliterate Hitler, so that was nice, but the setup of having the Princes deal with the super powered father was all done before this issue so we knew the confrontation was going to happen, the details are just that…details.
If you have to write your six issue limited series as monthly issues and you need to keep numbers up, a good cliff-hanger is probably the way to do it, but I think it didn’t do this book any favors with the narrative. If this had been a one shot graphic novel instead of six monthly issues, I think the pacing could have been better and we would have been able to reveal and deal with the big-bad in a neater package instead of cliff-hanging it (twice) and then leaving a lack luster finale.
Overall, this series was solid and I highly recommend it despite this kind of bummer of a final issue. I could see this series being dragged out into a longer work with the right writer. I wouldn’t have thought a book on fairy tales in the real world would have been as entertaining as Fables ended up being for as deeply mine-able as it was. Bill Willingham’s opus will end at 150 issues and I’m sure he could write more.
The WWII setting was a good one for this type of all out battle of the super powered royals, but I think the political intrigue of the pacts that were made to not intervene could be a pretty great story to tell in a cold war style setting, retelling historical battle stories with this theory in mind could be great. Imagine the Battle of Hastings or a Viking Invasion with some super powered royals involved. The other topic that could be delved pretty deeply is the eugenics involved in producing a more pure bloodline to maximize the powers of a countries royals and the machinations and inbreeding that might occur.
I think a writer with some experience in political fantastical stories could really clean up in this world. I’m thinking Greg Rucka or Warren Ellis, but those guys are pretty high profile for a project like this. I don’t want to say that the series creator Rob Williams doesn’t have the chops for this, but it certainly isn’t something he displays in this series. In a couple interviews I’ve read he’s stated that his genesis for this project was an idea that the House of Lords in England (all your dukes and duchesses, barrons, earls, viscounts, etc…) were in power because they had powers. So clearly he’s got more ideas for this concept than were spelled out in these pages. The reason they chose the WWII time line was to portray the era’s aircraft in well referenced drawings, which both he and the artist thought were missing from war comics. Quick, someone get me an Editorship at Vertigo so I can make this happen!
Comic read on 11/07/2014 on the inbound Green Line (Sorry for the shaky photo. I had to grab this photo as the train was puling into my stop)