Jack of Fables #4: Americana
by Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, various artists (Vertigo, 2008)

Jack takes a rowdy trip through the worlds of classic American folklore in Americana, volume four of the ongoing Jack series. Although his ultimate destination is a lost city of gold, it's the route he takes to get there -- beginning with the Great Train, and making stops in archetypal cities such as Steamboat, Gangland, Antebellum and Big City -- that provides the zing to this tale.

There's also Idyll, a time of such 1950s perfection and splendor as only ever existed on television, but here the ravages of the Bookburner have stripped the land and its people of color and life, and the remaining population has been utterly zombified. The police there are a hoot.

An unusual amount of attention is paid to a shard of the shell from Humpty Dumpty's butt, who is himself the fragile key to finding the treasure. Also joining Jack on his quest are Gary, the pathetic fallacy; Raven, a Native American trickster; Hillary Page, one of three hot librarians in the sinister Mr. Revise's employ at the Golden Boughs Retirement Community; and Babe the Blue Ox, former companion of some big lumberjack guy. Arrayed against them are ... well, an assortment of intriguing foes who are best to discover as they appear.

And Jack becomes a hero to the common man. You'll never guess how he did it.

Jack of Fables is still not up to a par with the bedrock Fables series, but it does seem to be hitting its stride and becoming better as it rolls along. It's hard not to want to see what Jack will do next -- for the same reason it's impossible to look away from a train wreck.

review by
Tom Knapp

14 February 2009

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