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Jason Schachat will rise again as long as people tell his story.

Jason Schachat's Occasional Breakdown

Jack of Fables #4 did something I’d been waiting for. It finally hit that point where I forgot to look at the cover and said to myself “Damn this is good. Well, of course. It’s Fables.”

Unlike most people, the first issue didn’t get me over the fact that Jack’s character arc had effectively ended when he became the richest and most powerful Fable that ever was. Even when he lost most of that fortune and found himself permanently exiled from Fabletown, he was still too well off. Even when he got thrown into a sort of Fable penitentiary. Yes, even when it started to look like Bill Willingham had done the oh-so brilliant move of blending Fables with The Prisoner.

But this jailbreak is both classic Willingham and classic Jack.

Using the Fairies to lure out the Village’s Doubling Rooks (think “What If Multiple Man Were a Raven...”), Jack has them call every bird in the forest to join the party. Wouldn’t you know it, the Rooks then gorge on the Mundy birds, continuing to double until they fill the sky and effectively nullify themselves.

The Page sisters scramble to get everything under control, releasing Bagmen and Tigers by the dozen, but the chaos only grows as their malevolent charges go berserk midst all the calamity. One of the big cats eats Toto, Lilliputians are trampled in scores, and Jack finds himself face to face with one of the undefeatable jailers.

One of the great moments here is when Mr. Revise becomes more upset by the death of Fables than their escape attempt. Not because he feels any empathy, though. He just knows any reasonably popular Fable will inevitably be recreated somewhere in the world, and that makes them harder to track down and recapture.

Will the jailbreak be a success? After all the work that went into establishing Golden Boughs Retirement Village, it seems that Jack is doomed to fail on his first attempt. Of course, this is Jack of Fables, so the creators can pretty much plunk him wherever they want. And that tension is what gives this series legs.

I'm buying it for the articles.

All right, I need to admit something: I reviewed Lady Death vs. War Angel #1 just because I needed something to bash. True, having a book where one of the characters has nipple hooks on her costume might be considered a counterbalance to Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane (more on that later), but let’s be honest: I knew this book was idiotic the moment I saw the cover.

Now, to keep the message clear, it’s not the insanely voluptuous women mudwrestling in string bikinis that I object to. I can appreciate the cleavage, butt cleavage, and apparent need for supernatural warriors to get regular Brazilian wax jobs. It’s not the “what” but the “how” that sinks this book.

First, War Angel rants about how she’s going to take revenge on Lady Death. Then we see Lady Death arm-wrestling in a bar. Then War Angel appears. They fight.

The linearity of the story is downright toxic. You’ll find more plot in this week’s Garfield. All the dialogue is dull exposition and name-calling. It almost defies belief that someone could call this a story.

But, let’s face it, this comic was made so people could see impossibly hot chicks fighting. It falls into that weird area between action comics and soft porn. The kind of thing it’s completely legal to sell to teenage boys, yet you can’t deny the overt sexuality.

So, if you want to see some T&A, Lady Death is still the girl for you. Like the statuette of her that graced the counter of the comic store I used to work at, it’s just something to make horny adolescent eyes bug out. If you actually want story/character/thrills/laughs, please, for the love of all things holy, buy something else.

A large number of “Do not read this book”, “Worst... comic... ever.”, and “It’s just awful” comments stood between me and Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #9. Trusted friends and strangers alike warned me off of this series like it was going to give me a terminal cancerous STD.

But, finally sitting down to read Nextwave for myself, I realized I know something they didn’t. You see, I’d read Transmetropolitan. I’d seen the manic, bloodthirsty side of Warren Ellis. Well, the OTHER manic, bloodthirsty side. The one with little conscience and no decency.

Isn't it about time?

That’s who’s writing this book.

It’s the story that tells us after Captain America came into being, he had to take a leak, allowing a Nazi agent to collect the “drained” Super-Soldier serum he left behind to make another Captain... whatever. This is where we find out that some hillbilly was sniffing gasoline at the place Hulk was created – but it was GAMMA-IRRADIATED gas, so now he can do... stuff. This is the comic where the American government actually gets duped into sponsoring terrorist attacks on their own cities.

After the Nextwave team is tricked into finding the location of S.I.L.E.N.T.’s headquarters, they realize the whole thing is an elaborate setup. Just before the upside-down floating castle appears overhead and dumps a few more groups of terrorist-funded Supergroups on top of them.

To be completely fair to detractors, this isn’t the most exciting issue one could hope for. In place of Dirk Anger’s bizarre rantings, we get Tabby realizing there’s such a thing as French-Canadians. By making every panel of the floating castle upside down, we get some good chuckles but lose others as we twist our necks around to get a good look at the ringleaders of S.I.L.E.N.T. And there aren’t nearly enough explosions.

Amusing, but not as meaty as their fight with Fin Fang Foom. Maybe some of that comes from how played out using knock-off characters as villains is (What’s it been? 30 years without a break?), but it could also be due to the amount of blocking done in this issue. Now that all the players are on stage, the show can start. Next issue.

Page 2: Planetary #26, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #11...

Page 3: Superman/Batman Annual #1, Ultimate Spider-Man #101...

Jason Schachat

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