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Aftermath
Chuck Wendig
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Samuel R. Delany
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Charles L. Grant

Fables Vol. 22: Farewell

Fables Vol. 22: Farewell - Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham I remember when Sandman ended. It was a sad day for me, and I think Neil Gaiman recognized that it would be a sad day for a lot people. He let the story carry that mood, creating a bittersweet finale that let it speak for him, his readers, and all the people who worked together to make that series such a groundbreaking, popular, and well-liked series.

Now, I see Fables end with more pomp and circumstance than story, and I can't help but feel like Willingham tried too hard to make this an event. Half of this issue (yes, it's a graphic novel collection, and even has the volume number on the spine to indicate this, but it's also the entire issue 150) is devoted to one- to three-page stories making sure that every remaining character (and even some who aren't) gets their little finale. At best, they were just lip service to the fans of the minor characters; at worst, it was proof that Willingham couldn't find a way to wrap up the story without resorting to epilogue after epilogue. Plus, there's the four-page wall of text where Willingham tells you all about how awesome Fables was and all that they managed to accomplish during the last thirteen years.

The first half of the issue is the conclusion to the story, and to say it was a let-down is pretty generous. Willingham has spent the last two collections creating the arc that leads to the final showdown, so there was a lot riding on what would go down here. Instead of telling an interesting story, he just walks us through how all the major characters respond to the loss of Fabletown and imminent war where thousands will die, and then just walks away from it. There's no real conclusion here; it's just a matter of letting everything progress as it will, without giving any real closure to what's happened in the preceding story arcs. This could have -- should have -- been a grand finale appropriate to all that preceded it.

Stories end. It's what makes them significant. In most cases, how you write the ends of your stories captures what you wanted to say about the story overall. With this final issue, Willingham and his cohorts prove that this was all about how big they could make their franchise.