Go Monkey Go

I’ve been reading the Fables comic series on and off for a few years now, and I’ve now finished all but the final volume. There’s one ongoing plotline that specifically involves the Land of Oz, and it doesn’t look like the wrap-up will deal any more with it, so I might as well write a post about it. It features Bufkin, a Winged Monkey who works as the librarian in the Fabletown business office. After bottling a djinn and defeating Baba Yaga and several other wicked witches (and losing his wings in the process), he climbs a tree in the company of Lily Martagon, a tiny barleycorn girl who has a crush on him. Ending up in the Land of Ev, they encounter the familiar characters Jack Pumpkinhead, the Sawhorse, and the Glass Cat, who are fugitives from the Nome King.

Formerly a governor under the Adversary, the Nome has since declared himself Emperor of Oz and the surrounding lands.

Bufkin launches a revolution against the usurper, managing to get the giant Mr. Yoop and some of the Kalidahs on his side.

And with help from General Blug, he raids a storehouse and retrieves several magic items, including the Golden Cap, the Powder of Life, the Water of Oblivion, and the Expectacles. Since the prophetic glasses were introduced in a Ruth Plumly Thompson book, I was pleasantly surprised to see them make an appearance.

The Emperor tries to have Bufkin hanged, but Lily uses the powder to bring the hanging rope itself to life, making it a somewhat morbid but still rather Ozzy character in its own right.

While definitely darker and edgier than the main Oz series, the fairyland is still familiar, and this arc should be an enjoyable read for Oz fans. I believe the graphic novels that collect this storyline are Super Team, Inherit the Wind, and Snow White.

I have wondered a bit about the timeline of the Oz events in Fables, and I’m apparently not the only one, as evidenced by a comment here. Bill Willingham doesn’t seem particularly concerned with it, placing characters from more recent works alongside traditional ones, so that Sinbad and Sir Lancelot can live at the same time as Pinocchio and the Oz characters. L. Frank Baum started the Oz series around the turn of the twentieth century, with multiple references indicating that he meant it to be more or less contemporary. So, if the Adversary conquered all the fairylands centuries ago, wouldn’t that have meant an Oz before Dorothy’s arrival? Also, is there supposed to be a particular point at which the Oz of Fables diverges from the canon? Probably not, but it looks to mostly stick to elements from the first seven books (the seventh, The Patchwork Girl of Oz, being the one to introduce Yoop and the Glass Cat), with an occasional reference to later material working its way in, like the Expectacles. The Nome King is still called Roquat rather than Ruggedo, the name he’s had from Tik-Tok of Oz onward. And Bufkin recruits Blug, a Nome who made a brief appearance in The Emerald City of Oz, saying he has reason to hate the Nome King. Since Roquat has him “thrown away,” I would say he does. Still, wouldn’t Kaliko be the more obvious choice, since he was Ruggedo’s successor, and hence had more to lose from the old King taking back power? I guess not if Willingham wasn’t really considering the events of Tik-Tok. Kaliko appears before that, but isn’t all that fleshed out. Also, Bufkin turns down the throne of Oz and Jack mentions that he might want it, but it’s not stated that he is effectively Ozma’s son, and hence has a valid claim on it.

Ozma herself seems to have no interest in returning to Oz, instead serving as second-in-command and later leader of Fabletown’s witches (well, before what happens to her fighting Bigby Wolf, but I don’t want to give too much away here). Then again, I’m not entirely sure this is the same Ozma. After all, apparently all female rulers of Oz have that name.

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This entry was posted in Comics, L. Frank Baum, Oz, Oz Authors, Ruth Plumly Thompson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Go Monkey Go

  1. Pingback: Sorta Fairytales | VoVatia

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