It’s time for another edition of my quest to recap every story ever told within the pages of Fables, with the one exception last Friday. Today’s story is a long one. A very long one. “March of the Wooden Soldiers” is about a force sent from the Adversary to attack Fabletown. Within this story, nearly everyone that we have been previously introduced to receives some type of development. As always, the story and spoilers are after the break.
Issues #19-21, 23-27
Art by Mark Buckingham
A family of Fables are trying to make their way to Fabletown when they are confronted by a car full of goblins. However, all of them are run over by an unseen vehicle. Snow White has a dream in which the severed head of Colin the pig warns her about impending doom. Flycatcher asks the magic mirror if he’s been able to locate his wife, but the mirror has been unable to. Boy Blue and Mayor Cole are still counting Bluebeard’s treasure, when Bigby Wolf confronts the Mayor. Bigby is not happy about the Mayor letting Prince Charming get away with Bluebeard’s murder on the unprovable excuse of self-defense. Snow White meets with Dr. Swineheart for a check up, and gets upset when he mentions that she could have an abortion. Bigby Wolf confronts Prince Charming about the murder, but Prince and his new servant Hobbes are too busy collecting 500 signatures. Bigby catches Snow as she’s coming back from her check-up, and tries to talk to her about their cub, but she’s too tired to discuss it. They do however realize that Prince Charming is gathering the signatures to try to run for Mayor of Fabletown. As they discuss this with King Cole, their meeting is interrupted when Red Riding Hood arrives outside the Woodland.
Boy Blue wakes up and steps on Pinocchio’s toy soldiers that his father, Gepetto (who never made it out of the Homelands), made for him. Boy Blue finally makes his way down to the Woodland office to find Snow, Bigby, Cole, and Red Riding Hood, who has just explained how she escaped from the Adversary forces. She also revealed that she was in the truck that was attacked earlier. When Red Riding discovers that Boy Blue made it on the boat, she accuses him of using her for that one night, and leaving her. She runs off distraught. Mayor Cole tries to comfort her with her own room and a nice dinner, until she gets upset again when she finds out that Bigby (Big Bad Wolf) will be questioning her again. Bigby explains to Snow that he things Red Riding is actually a spy for the Adversary. Prince Charming campaigns in Fabletown, promising to spread the wealth, and offers glamors for anyone that needs them. Three brothers in black suits and sunglasses confront a street corner vendor, demanding to know where Bullfinch St. is and where they can get guns.
Jack is in a bar, trying to convince a man by the name of Thrushbeard that they could use one of his four remaining magic beans to go up to the cloud kingdoms, and steal from the giants. Jack is certain that the Adversary has not conquered those lands because he has no way to reach them. Thrushbeard doesn’t trust Jack, and walks away. Bigby meets with a Fable named Kay, who can see what evil any person has done. Unfortunately, Kay has gouged his eyes out again, because he can not stand seeing the evil everyone has done. The three brothers from before confront Jack, and offer to buy the magic beans from him. He declines, and they start beating him up, saying that they will take them and all things of strategic value from Fabletown, and teach the residents some respect. Bigby tells Mayor Cole about his suspicions with Red Riding Hood. This greatly upsets Cole, who is worried that this will hurt him in his election against Prince Charming. Cole also wants Bigby to find some dirt on Prince Charming, but Bigby is instead flying to Canada to inspect the gate Red used, because it had been closed from the Homelands. Jack is finally able to fight off his attackers, revealing that they are not real flesh and blood. Jack makes his way to the office with one of the brother’s broken legs, and informs Snow and Bigby what happened.
The three brothers take all of the guns at the gun store, killing the owner in the process, because the “meat” dared to give them orders. In the Woodland office, Bigby and Snow don’t believe that Jack was actually attacked. Flycatcher and Pinocchio are trying to cheer up Boy Blue. Flycatcher offers to take him to the comic and candy store. Pinocchio offers to get him hookers. Red Riding Hood walks up, and patches things up with Blue. She is very surprised to meet Pinocchio, who himself is surprised that she has heard of him. Red and Blue walk off, actually leaving Blue’s trumpet with Flycatcher and Pinocchio. Prince Charming meets with Beauty and Beast, and offers them Snow White’s and Bigby Wolf’s positions, because he is certain they’ll quit after he is elected. Red leads Blue to a warehouse she stayed in last night. Red tries to convince Blue that he needs to protect her from Bigby, and also tries to get information on details surrounding Fabletown and The Farm. Blue dodges her questions, and they proceed to have sex. After, Blue confronts her, stating that he knows she’s not actually Red Riding Hood. She knocks him out, and the three brothers walk up. She says she needs to question him first, and then make him into stew.
Up at The Farm, Rose Red wakes up to be informed that Baba Yaga’s chicken legged hut is on the loose, somehow. In the Woodland office, Snow White questions Flycatcher and Pinocchio why Boy Blue has been missing for five days. They say he was last with Red Riding Hood. Red is attempting to torture information out of Blue, but has been unable to do so. She also reveals that the real Red Riding Hood is still alive. Red reveals that she had hoped to carry her plan out over years, but has to fast-track things because of Bigby and Blue. Her and the three brothers get into an argument about her giving them, Sons of the Emperor, orders. But they are reminded of how powerful and treasured by the Emperor she is. Bigby calls Snow to tell her that every Fable guarding the northern entrance to the Mundy world has been killed, and it looks like there has been a lot of traffic through the gate. He tells her to prepare for an invasion while he destroys the gate. She tells him to hurry back. Snow tries to gather people for an emergency meeting (including a returned Cinderella, who had a story in issue #22 that will be discussed on Friday), but that meeting is interrupted by a gun shot. The three brothers return, at which Jack says I told you so. They toss down Boy Blue, and give demands from the Emperor: that the Fables will be incorporated into the Empire, Red Riding Hood will be handling this, and all magical artifacts will be returned. They will also be taking Pinocchio, the first carved, back with them. Pinocchio packs his things, and believes that the wooden soldiers existence means that his father is alive, and is a slave to the Empire.
Everyone from the Farm is on their way down to help bolster Fabletown’s defenses. Prince Charming is working on strengthening the barriers around Fabletown, including creating new barriers on the street. The three brothers begin unpacking and assembling more copies of themselves. Boy Blue checks himself out of the hospital, wanting to get revenge. Snow drafts the Witches Council into service, who are unhappy to be working for free, but will do it. She tells them she needs to make sure the Mundys don’t know what is going on. Snow is trying to organize communication when she comes across Dr. Swineheart taping a sword to Boy Blue’s hands because he is unable to hold it. Prince Charming and Beast hatch a plan where Prince tells Beauty he’s paid to get her “services” before the battle. This is to get Beauty angry at them, so Beast turns into a Beast again for the battle. Snow tries to encourage the Fables, while the brothers do the same for their forces. Jack is charged with the job of watching over Pinocchio. Pinocchio says that they won’t kill him, he wants to go back to find his father, and shooting the wooden soldiers wouldn’t do any good. Jack says the sword is for the soldiers, and the gun is for him if he tries to go back, and risk delivering himself into the hands of the Adversary.
The wooden soldiers attack both entrances to Fabletown, eventually able to break the first set of barriers. The Fables are not having much success using guns, because most of the soldiers are not any vital organs worth hitting. After the wooden soldiers take control of the street, the flying Fables drop grenades onto them. After this, Snow sends in the heavy hitters: a rhino, the three bears, Trimble (troll), Hobbes (goblin), Beast, Weyland Smith, and Boy Blue with the Vorpal sword. Snow orders everyone else to run, panic-looking, into the Courtyard. Inside the Couryard, a line of cannons is waiting for the wooden soldiers. Weyland Smith and Boy Blue are shot. Snow calls back the heavy hitters, but the Papa and Baby bears are shot. Clara, the crow/dragon, is sent in to burn up the wooden soldiers. Pinocchio knows that trying to burn them won’t do any good, and tells Jack to warn Snow. Pinocchio uses the confusion to try to escape, but he is beheaded by a wooden soldier that is unable to recognize him because of the fire. Snow realizes her error, and tells the witches to make it rain quickly. Frau Totenkinder leaves the others to the rain, while she plans on teaching another witch a lesson. Out of nowhere comes a gust of wind, blowing out and away the wooden soldiers. Bigby has finally arrived to the fight.
Frau summons Red Riding Hood to the roof of the Woodland building, revealing her to be actually Baba Yaga. Upon his arrival, Bigby takes over command of the battle, ordering one team to fight the fires inside the building, one team to take the wounded inside, and one team to remove all of the heads of the wooden soldiers. Snow rushes out and hugs Bigby (still in wolf form). She says she knew he’d come because he always saves her. Flycatcher and King Cole investigate a lightning strike on their building, only to find the witch fight and flee immediately. Frau has left Baba Yaga in a bloody mess. The local news reported the events of the night 3 times with the same details. A man named Kevin Thorn noticed it was suspicious, but no one else noticed. In a funeral, the Fables send their fallen, most notably Weyland Smith and Baby Bear, down the Witching Well. They also send the body of Baba Yaga down the well. Bigby and Blue talk about his injuries while also questioning about all of the wooden heads they’ve collected. Bigby then meets with Frau Totenkinder, who is with Baba Yaga. Frau says she drains her magic every day, and Bigby tells her that she’ll eventually tell them everything she knows. As everyone copes with their losses in their own ways, Snow tells Bigby that she thinks her water broke.
There are some important things to remember from this story. First, the tactical military skill of some of the Fables. Prince Charming handled preparation well, and despite the election, played his part in the battle. Bigby was able to come into the battle, and immediately know what was needed. Secondly, the end of this story is really where Snow falls for Bigby. Up until now, she has always been reserved about it, but when he rescues them at the end of the battle, she finally lets her emotions out. Third, Boy Blue is continuing on his path to become a bad ass. Seriously. How bad ass is it that he was willing to tape the Vorpal sword to his hands so that he could fight?