Jack of Fables

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Jack of Fables

Cover to issue #1 of Jack of Fables (September 2006). Art by James Jean.
Publication information
Publisher Vertigo Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Ongoing series
Genre
Publication date September 2006 – April 2011
Number of issues 50
Main character(s) Jack Horner
"Gary": A personification of the Pathetic Fallacy
Creative team
Writer(s) Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges
Artist(s) Tony Akins, Andrey Pepoy, James Jean, Brian Bolland
Creator(s) Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges
Collected editions
The (Nearly) Great Escape ISBN 1-4012-1222-0
Jack of Hearts ISBN 1-4012-1455-X
The Bad Prince ISBN 1-4012-1854-7
Americana ISBN 1-4012-1979-9
Turning Pages ISBN 1-4012-2138-6
The Big Book of War ISBN 1-4012-2500-4
The New Adventures of Jack and Jack ISBN 1-4012-2712-0
The Fulminate Blade ISBN 1-4012-2982-4
The End ISBN 1-4012-3155-1

Jack of Fables was a spin-off of the comic book Fables, both of which were published by DC Comics as part of that company's Vertigo imprint.[1] It shows the adventures of Jack Horner that take place after his exile from Fabletown in the Fables story-arc Jack Be Nimble (Fables #34 and #35). A preview of the series was shown in Fables #50, and the series itself debuted in July 2006. It was written by Fables writer Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges.

Plot[edit]

The series follows Jack's adventures following his time in Hollywood where he successfully completed a hugely popular series of movies based on himself and his life. However, he had his power and money stripped from him by Fabletown authorities.[1]

In the first issue Jack was abducted whilst hitch-hiking across America and taken to the Golden Boughs Retirement Village, where he is essentially held prisoner. Following his first encounter with "Revise", who wants to purge the world of superstition by locking up Fables until the world forgets them, he then plans and executes the first successful breakout from the Golden Boughs. While some of the escapees were captured or killed, many are now free and on the run from Revise's team.

Following his escape, Jack met up with some other refugees in the Rocky Mountains and hid there, until he made his way to Las Vegas. After meeting up with the Pathetic Fallacy, he decided to swindle The Grande Duche de Luxembourg casino, only to find a bride in Holly Wagner, the daughter of the owner. Tragically, Holly and her father were killed by Belgian mobsters working under the orders of Lady Luck.[1]

After the events in Las Vegas, Jack and Gary are captured again by Priscilla Page who already captured Wicked John. After a fight between Jack and John starts in the van, it crashes off the road into the Grand Canyon. After recovering from the crash, Jack, Gary and Priscilla are sitting near a campfire, when a mysterious man appears. He plunges the sword Excalibur through Jack's chest and dies shortly thereafter. Once John appears with Gertrude (Priscilla's assistant), Gary explains that Jack is actually a copy of John and Jack, delighted with the news, pulls Excalibur out of his chest and impales John with it. Raven shows up after that and the party decides to move out of the canyon while leaving John behind (as the sword would draw too much attention to his Fable nature) but Jack, Raven and Gary soon ditch Priscilla and Gertrude and end up in a motel near the interstate in New Mexico.

During these events, Hillary Page cooks up a plan to venture in the Fable Land of Americana and blackmails Paul Bunyan to go with her.

In the motel, Jack does the impossible, and puts Humpty Dumpty (who had died during the Golden Bough breakout) back together again. Jack explains he brought the Humpty Dumpty parts with him, as Humpty promised to lead Jack to a hidden treasure. The treasure lies in Americana, so the foursome breach the magical border by jumping on the Great Train and bump into Hillary and Paul Bunyan.

Once in Americana, they find out that the man Hillary thought to be her father, the "Bookburner", isn't and that he holds a grudge against Revise for stealing her mother away from him. He sends Natty Bumppo and Slue-Foot Sue after them until they finally shake them off and end up on the spot where Humpty's hidden treasure lies. In the end, Humpty and Hillary are captured by the Bookburner and he begins his march against the Golden Boughs.

The first issue also sees the return of Goldilocks, who seemingly died in a much earlier issue of Fables.

After the events of Americana, a Literary character explains the back story of the Page sisters (Robin, Priscilla, Hillary), as well as sets up the march of the Bookburner's Eidolon army arriving at the Golden Boughs retirement center to destroy all the Fables there.

In Volume 6: The Big Book of War, Jack leads the Retirement Village against the Bookburner's siege, in an ironic twist as he works together with his former captors.

Locations[edit]

An important location for the series is the Golden Boughs Retirement Village, named after Sir James George Frazer's The Golden Bough, a wide-ranging comparative study of mythology and religion. Despite its innocuous name, not all the residents live there voluntarily. In the first issue Jack is abducted to there while hitch-hiking.

Americana is the American Fable-land. Home to such luminaries as Paul Bunyan and Babe, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, etc. It's accessible only through the "thin places" where magic bleeds through into the mundy world, because Mr. Revise long ago destroyed all the gateways leading to it. The primary way of accessing the "thin places" is by hitching a ride as a hobo on the Great Train — which Jack does along with Gary the Pathetic Fallacy, Raven (his newly acquired Indian sidekick), and Humpty Dumpty. They arrive on the train at the same time as Hillary Page (the librarian) and Bunyan. Jack subsequently throws Raven, Hillary and Bunyan from the train.

Story arcs[edit]

The (Nearly) Great Escape (issues 1 - 5) is the first story arc, detailing Jack's capture and time in the Golden Boughs.

Jack Frost (issues 6 & 11) tells the story of Jack's identity as Jack Frost.

Jack of Hearts (issues 7 - 10) recounts his trip to Las Vegas after escaping from the Golden Boughs.

The storyline titled The Bad Prince (issues 12 - 15) is a counterpart to the Fables storyline The Good Prince and involves Jack and his relationship to Wicked John.

Jack O Lantern (issue 16) tells the story of Jack's identity as Jack O'Lantern.

Following this, Americana (issues 17 - 20) focuses on the "American Fable homeland".

Gary Does Denmark (issue 21) is a flashback story set in the Golden Boughs Retirement Village.

The fifth story arc, 1883 (issues 22 - 24), is a flashback story set in the Old West.

The sixth story arc is called Turning Pages (issues 25 - 27), detailing each of the Page sisters' past and personality.

The seventh, The Books of War (issues 28 - 32), is about Bookburner's war against the Golden Boughs Retirement Village.

The eighth storyline is part of The Great Fables Crossover (issues 33 - 35) and takes a twist as Jack is not present in the second and third issues during the story-arc, instead focusing on Bigby Wolf and Snow White joining Mr. Revise, The Pathetic Fallacy, and Babe The Blue Ox in stopping Kevin Thorn.

Jack 'n' Apes (issue 36) tells the story of Jack's identity as "Jack of the Apes".

The ninth story arc is The New Adventures of Jack and Jack (issues 37 - 40) which focuses on the new Jack Frost, Jack Horner's son.

Jack's son remains the principal protagonist of the next story The Fulminate Blade (issues 41 - 45).

Jack Horner returns in the eleventh and final story arc, The Ultimate Jack of Fables Story (issues 46 - 50), collected in the trade paperback The End. The series concludes with a chaotic battle in which most of the series' characters are killed.

Critical reaction[edit]

Time magazine's Lev Grossman named it one of the Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2007, ranking it at #5.[2]

Collected editions[edit]

It is worth noting that Jack of Fables #33-35 is collected in Fables Vol. 13 Fables: The Great Fables Crossover.

# Title ISBN Release date Collected material
1 Jack of Fables - The (Nearly) Great Escape ISBN 1-4012-1222-0 February 28, 2007 Jack of Fables #1–5
2 Jack of Fables - Jack of Hearts ISBN 1-4012-1455-X October 3, 2007 Jack of Fables #6–11
3 Jack of Fables - The Bad Prince ISBN 1-4012-1854-7 June 25, 2008 Jack of Fables #12–16
4 Jack of Fables - Americana ISBN 1-4012-1979-9 December 16, 2008 Jack of Fables #17-21
5 Jack of Fables - Turning Pages ISBN 1-4012-2138-6 March 10, 2009 Jack of Fables #22-27
6 Jack of Fables - The Big Book of War ISBN 1-4012-2500-4 October 7, 2009 Jack of Fables #28-32
7 Jack of Fables - The New Adventures of Jack and Jack ISBN 1-4012-2712-0 June 23, 2010 Jack of Fables #36-40
8 Jack of Fables - The Fulminate Blade ISBN 1-4012-2982-4 January 26, 2011 Jack of Fables #41-45
9 Jack of Fables - The End ISBN 1-4012-3155-1 July 13, 2011 Jack of Fables #46-50

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Irvine, Alex (2008), "Jack of Fables", in Dougall, Alastair, The Vertigo Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 100–101, ISBN 0-7566-4122-5, OCLC 213309015 
  2. ^ Grossman, Lev (2007-12-09). "Grossman, Lev; Top 10 Graphic Novels;". Time.com. Retrieved 2011-04-11.