I'll admit, when I read the solicitations for the "Super Team" storyline of "Fables," I was expecting a lot of silliness. A superhero team composed of Fables? Really? As it turned out, though, Bill Willingham and company were faking us out a bit. Sure, there's a bit of superhero parody going on in "Fables" this month, but it's just a small part of the larger story.
The issue instead is dealing with the larger problems still spinning out from the past year or so: Haven being under siege from Mister Dark, Geppetto plotting against King Flycatcher, Mrs. Spratt's continuing betrayal of her fellow Fables, the North Wind's plans to kill his grandson Ghost, and so on. Willingham moves all of the storylines forward another notch, which works well. There isn't a huge amount of progression on any one story, but by all of them inching ahead, it feels like a lot is accomplished. And this way, when the later issues focus on one story and temporarily set the others aside, it doesn't feel like "Fables" is ignoring all of its multiple threads.
"Fables" has one of the most consistent creative teams in comics, and that includes regular artists Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha. The characters look great as always, with their rich features and attention to detail. (Who knew Beast had such smooth legs? Then again, if you were trapped as the Beast for umpteen years, you'd probably be into manscaping too.) Even the sillier bits, like Pinocchio's bubble pipe, are drawn in such a way that they fit in well and unobtrusively. And of course, Buckingham's borders on the edges of the page to define where a scene takes place look great as always.
Oh, and as for the superhero bits? Pinocchio's attempts to create a team of defenders for Haven modeled after superhero comics are amusing, and the "try out" scenes are a good light-hearted distraction from the big picture. And as Pinocchio himself points out, it's a way for the Fables living in Haven to feel like they're helping out. But it's a minor part, and once the jokes are over, it's time to head back down the serious stuff.
"Fables" #103 does everything it sets out to do; stories move forward, hints are dropped for the future, and entertainment is provided for "Fables" readers for another month. People coming on board just for the superhero parody might be a little disappointed, but on the whole it's another good issue.