"Inherit the Wind" has been simultaneously one of the more entertaining and frustrating "Fables" stories in a while. On some level it's been delivering a lot of forward momentum and setting up what's to come, but at the same time it's getting almost there and then pulling short.
Take, for instance, the selection of the new North Wind. On paper it's a great idea, the cubs of Snow White and Bigby Wolf being groomed and tested until one reveals his or herself as the new ruler of the realm. The problem is that with such a large cast, we don't have that strong of a feel for the various cubs (save for possibly Ambrose or Ghost). They've all been given quick character sketches, but save for perhaps the most die-hard of all "Fables" fans I'll be impressed if anyone can remember who more than two of the cubs are, and that's with one of them being an invisible, voiceless zephyr.
So, when the new North Wind is selected, it's anticlimactic. It's actually more interesting to see two characters returned to the fold that were thought to be lost in a previous storyline, than the actual selection of the new king. And as such, the story doesn't come to an end, it just stops. The other Winds are still scheming, but nothing happens. Most of the other cubs don't even get a reaction to the selection. It's a sudden halting of the story for now, time to move on.
To a lesser extent, we get that with Bufkin's trial in Oz. The scenes with Bufkin and his lawyer are funny, and once again, we're getting a setup for future stories. But cliffhanger aside, once again, the story just halts. Hopefully we'll get it picked back up before long, but right now it's a screeching stop, time to move on, we've got a Christmas issue to turn out next month. Bufkin's chapters normally steal the show, so his less-than-awesome segments this issue are a little less up to par.
Mark Buckingham's art (with inks and finishes from Steve Leialoha and Shawn McManus) are strong as always, though; beautifully rounded portraits of characters, and when the two missing folk return this month they've got a worn down weariness to their features that brings home the dire straits they've been in. And while I'm a big fan of Buckingham's work with Leialoha, the art meshes well enough with McManus that I wouldn't mind seeing him step in again if the schedule needs it.
"Fables" #111 is good, but it's got little problems keeping it from being great. It's a less than thrilling conclusion to a story that promised more, and while I have no doubt that Willingham has some great places for these stories to go down the line, it's not there yet. So for now, we just have to judge based off of what we've got, not the potential. And for what we've got? It's a 3-star book. Not bad, but you hope for more.