Comic Review – Fiction Squad #3

Writers: Paul Jenkins
Artist: Ramon Bachs
Colors: Leonardo Paciarotti 
Letters: Jim Campbell
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Release Date: 3 Dec 2014

The nursery crimes plot moves swiftly along in this action-packed third installment (out of six) of Fiction Squad. It begins ominously enough, with a scene at the castle of the four card Queens, as they carry out a heated discussion about how to tackle the tensions with their rival Witches of Oz. The Queen of Diamonds is particularly displeased, as the last issue saw her palace abducted and destroyed.

But the meeting is ground to a halt as it’s realized an infiltrator is in their midst — or bugged. Literally, as we end the scene with a panel of a bug hiding behind a vase of flower, and suddenly looking very nervous.

Fiction Squad #3It turns out poor Bug is an ally of our hero, Detective Frankie Mack, but he never shows up for their meet. He’s either been destroyed too (I’m hoping not) or just caught and thrown in jail. Frankie does still get his meeting, albeit with the very creepy mayor of Rime, the Crooked Man. Both the Mayor and the midget police captain are obviously working for the Queens, and they sure as heck don’t want Mack getting in the way of their corrupted rule of Rime.

“Under no circumstances whatsoever… under pain of certain death… do I want you within ten miles of the white queen’s palace,” instructs the Crooked Man, so naturally, Mack does exactly that. And though the White Queen ends up throwing him in her jail, Mack does get rescued by Snow White and her Seven Dwarves.

And finally, we get some answers — sort of. There’s apparently an egg that everyone who is anyone in the land of stories wants to get their hands on it, to the point of killing anyone who even mentions it, because “to own the egg is to control all Fablewood”. Mack is suspicious that there is more to the story than Snow’s telling him, but the dwarves send him along on his way before he can acquire more information.

Given that nothing has gone as planned in this issue, it’s no surprise that  when Frankie returns to Rime, it’s to find that his dim partner Simon (of Simple Simon fame, I’m thinking?) has inadvertently caused a gang war after literally pinning a tail Mrs. Humpty Dumpty’s backside (ouch) when instructed to tail her. Frankie figures apologising to Mrs. Dumpty might help (though this seems optimistic, given that Rime seems a nasty town all around), but what they find instead is the fried (heh) corpse of Humpty. Dum dum dum!

As might be obvious from the above recap, this issue is a fast-paced hodge-podge of various disjointed occurrences. But we do get two major revelations: the existence of Snow White as one of the few good guys and allies of Frankie, first of all, and also the death of Humpty. Given that this is a mystery, I don’t think we’re going to get any answers till issue #6, and I’m not even sure all the relevant cards have been put into play.

But I did enjoy how Jenkins and Bachs continue to flesh out this weird little world of nursery rhymes. The characters are mostly ridiculous caricatures, but it works for the book. Bachs’ art is tremendously detailed, and truly invaluable in bringing the world of Fablewood to life. Even if the script itself seems to go all over the place, his choice of panels and perspective distracts from that, pulling the reader into a non-stop adventure. Leonardo Paciarotti’s flat colouring style is both bright and grimy, a juxtaposition which embodies the spirit of Jenkins’ script perfectly.

Something I have found aggravating in previous issues, however, and which didn’t let up in this installment, is the inexplicable fact that most of the women in this comic are inexplicably all cleavage-baring and buxom. If not, they’re old, dowdy women, like the Card Queens. I get that this is supposed to be a humourously seedy take on old-school nursery rhymes and children’s stories, and overall, the conceit makes for a fun read, but this aspect is both distracting and unnecessary.

While I do look forward to seeing how the story of Fablewood’s troubles continues to unfold, I hope we’ll have less gratuitous female skin (or at least, more gratuitous male skin to balance it out) — and a clearer direction of where the story is headed might help, too. Nonetheless, Fiction Squad #3 isn’t too shabby an effort.


Fiction Squad #3



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About the author

Yamini C

Yamini is a twenty-something from hot & humid Singapore. An editor here at WOTN, she spends a lot of time obsessing over superhero comics and pretty much every kind of pop culture.