The "Inherit the Wind" storyline seems to have gotten dangerous when no one was looking, and that's a good thing.
At first, this storyline looked to just be fun. With the North Wind trapped for eternity in the Casket of Primordial Winds with Mister Dark, we started a "select the new North Wind" story involving Snow White and Bigby's children a few issues ago. Watching them stumble through the tests and interacting with one another has been entertaining, even as Mistral admits that they have no idea how to actually chose a new North Wind.
But with the arrival of the other three Wind Lords, things have suddenly gotten serious. Bill Willingham has shown us that the selection of a new North Wind is anything but fun and games, and the consequences of this story could prove to be quite deadly. Likewise, the storyline with Bumpkin in Oz is rapidly getting more dangerous, and as upbeat as Bumpkin himself is, once again it's hard to keep from feeling like our poor little monkey has bitten off more than he can chew.
Mark Buckingham is up to his usual strong talents, penciling the Oz sequences with inks by Steve Leialoha, and providing layouts for the North Wind sequences with finishes by Shawn McManus. I like the difference in finishers for the two halves of the book; while they still look recognizably similar, the North Wind pages have a rounder, softer edge courtesy McManus, while Leialoha brings a more rigid line to Oz. Whomever's tackling his pencils, though, Buckingham's always good; his trademark borders are classy, and everything from the new character design for Mistral to the arrival of the Winds looks interesting to the eye.
The one thing I'm not crazy about in this issue is the final page. Without giving anything away, let's just say that if an event a few issues ago turns out to have been yet another fake out, I'm sure I'm not the only reader who will be seriously annoyed. Hopefully the real fake out is the ending here, but with Willingham (who tricked the readers in this manner before) you never can tell.
Bad cliffhanger aside, "Fables" is back to being consistently strong, and once again I've got absolutely no idea where the title is going from here. That's exactly how a long-form serial should run. At the rate this is going, we can get another 110 issues from Willingham and Buckingham without either of them batting an eye. I'm down for that.