Saturday, March 11, 2006

Comics Review: March 11

Short ones this week, work's been piling up...

Fables: The Ballad of Rodney and June (46-47)

After the intricate complexities of the "Arabian Nights" storyline, Bill Willingham shifts gears and delivers a short, charming and deceptively simple side-story about two of the Adversary's wooden servants who fall in love, and can't consummate their relationship unless their creator agrees to make them flesh and blood. While it's nominally a touching little romance, Willingham actually goes a bit further than I expected; what we get here is a perspective that hasn't really been examined before, as the whole story focuses on the points of view of the wooden soldiers. We learn a bit about how they think, and the Adversary again demonstrates that he isn't the evil overlord we initially believed him to be. He also eschews the typical storybook ending, and goes for the more realistic idea that getting what you want only leads to different problems. And it's left to the reader to decide whether these characters are better off now than they were before.

Even though it's only a filler story that doesn't advance any of the ongoing subplots, "The Ballad of Rodney and June" is a very enjoyable read.


Hard Time #4

Continuing with the theme of pausing the momentum for a different kind of story, Steve Gerber temporarily puts the ongoing intrigues at the state jail on hold to give us Cindy's backstory. The framing device is Cole reading "her" diary to find out about Cutter, whose charisma has snared both Cindy and Hardin (an eerie echo of Deshon and the preacher last season, which Cole explicitly brings up). Gerber's choice of segments in Cindy's history is interesting, because he doesn't pick the most relevant selections: the diary goes all the way back to kindergarten and stops shorts of actually explaining why Cindy's in prison to begin with. We can probably guess what happened given the information at hand, but that's as far as the story goes.

On the whole, it does seem a bit of a misstep; Gerber focuses primarily on Cindy's gender issues, which were perfectly apparent the moment "she" debuted. Strictly speaking, we haven't learned anything we couldn't have pieced together on our own. Then again, Cindy's past appearances always placed "her" in the function of appendage, both literally and metaphorically - attached to whichever character or subplot was dominating the issue. Here, Cindy is situated within the larger Cutter storyline, but is also given an independent narrative for the first time. It'll be interesting to see where this leads.