Countdown to Fables #100: The Ballad of Rodney and June

Welcome to Countdown to Fables #100, where every Tuesday and Friday, I recap every story that has appeared within the pages of Bill Willingham’s Fables.  This countdown is set to last until issue #100 comes out on November 24th.  Today’s story is titled “The Ballad of Rodney and June.”  It is about a wooden soldier and wooden female, and their encounter with human emotions.”  Although the identity of the Adversary/Emperor is clearly shown in the actual story, I do not reveal it in this recap.  The story recap (with spoilers) are after the break.

The Ballad of Rodney and June

Issues #46-47
Art by Jim Fern

Rodney is a wooden soldier, serving the Empire on the front lines in their attack on the Arabian Fables.  During the course of a battle, one of Rodney’s legs is damaged by a lion.  When he goes to have it repaired, he finds that the usual carver, Gunter, is on leave.  In his place is a wooden female named June.  Rodney is immediately taken by June.  He begins trying to find time during the day where he can go visit her.  Rodney begins reading up, and inquiring from the “Meats” on what happens between a man and a woman.  The first thing he tries is poetry.  While reading to her, they do conclude that this is a courtship, and discuss what is to happen next.  Rodney does more research, and realizes they they can’t have sex, but could possibly kiss.  Not having fleshy heads, they don’t experience anything from the kiss.  This leads Rodney to write a letter to Emperor, asking that he turn him and June into humans.  Captain Arturo, Rodney’s superior scolds him, telling him the letter is treasonous because it gives away vital information about the Emperor, including his identity.

June tries to see Rodney, but Captain Arturo has him confined until he figures out what to do with him.  Rodney’s guard comes in and questions him about why he would want to be flesh, because they are at a serious disadvantage compared to being wood.  Captain Arturo is looking over Rodney’s record, saying that he would be promoting Rodney if it weren’t for the letter.  The assistant asks what letter.  This gives Arturo an idea.  He tells Rodney that he is sending him on a mission to talk to the Emperor in order to quell any rumor of a letter.  And this would also be the perfect time to discuss what might have been in the letter without writing it down.  As they ventured across the lands, local kings were intimidated by them, and kept giving them gifts to please them.  After months of traveling, they reach their destination.  They present the Emperor with their request, answering his questions about how they got to this point.  The Emperor tells them he’ll consider it, but a favor this big will come with a price.  The Emperor agrees, transforms them into humans, and marries them.  June becomes pregnant.  Some time later, the Snow Queen gives them a mission.  They must first learn about the Mundy world, and then live in it, a few blocks from Fabletown.  They try to blend in with the citizens, and each day, they write in a magical journal.  Occasionally, a message will be there from the other side, and they would have to carry out some dreadful mission.  Laying in bed, June wonders what they’ll tell their daughter about who they really are, and longs for the days when she was incapable of crying.

This is an alright story, but a little depressing.  Here, we have two beings that go through extraordinary measures to get what they want.  However, when they finally get that, they find out it comes with a price that they did not think about, and regret getting their wish.  There’s a lesson to be learned here.  The grass may not be as green as you think it is on the other side of the fence.  Off the top of my head, I can’t remember how this ties into later issues.  I assume it does, because rarely does Bill Willingham write something that has no bearing on anything else.

Up next, Wolves

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