Tag Archive: Jack of Hearts

Jan 20

Review: Jack of Hearts by Bill Willingham, et al.

Jack of Hearts

It’s been eleven hundred years since I read the first Jack of Fables collection, but I remember enjoying it immensely. So when I got this recently, I tore through it. After all, I love a good graphic novel collection: easy to read, engaging stories, and usually fast-paced enough to finish in a single sitting.

The series is a spinoff of the Fables series (which is fantastic and wonderful and you should already be reading). It follows the character of Jack, a living embodiment of all of the fables, stories, and myths that have ever had a character named Jack in them. Because of his enduring fame throughout the mortal realm, he remains hail, vital, and powerful. But he’s an amoral guy, more willing to do good for himself or others when convenient than to get involved in ideas of nobility. He can be man-whorish (or as Dale’s book would say, filled with a demon of whoredom), crass, and hardhearted. But he’s the kind of bad person that makes a great good guy.

And that’s what really makes the stories work: Jack does bad things and is often (though not always) the cause of the problems that he encounters. But he’s so rakishly charming, that he gets all the chances.

Oh, and then there’s Gary, The Pathetic Fallacy. Since he’s the embodiment of a storytelling trope, he can make any inanimate object do whatever he wants. So he’s useful in a pinch, and he’s a walking deus ex machina. But the whole series acknowledges that fact, so it’s kinda meta. I don’t know; I like it.

This particular collection contains two story arcs from the series. The first follows Jack and some other fables who have escaped from the Golden Boughs Retirement Village. While hiding out on a mountain, Jack reveals the period in his life when he took over the mantle of winter and became Jack Frost. Cute little story of castle intrigue and power going to one’s head, but not super memorable.

The bulk of the collection, though, follows Jack and Gary as Jack decides to take over a casino in Las Vegas. But, he ends up falling in love with the daughter of the casino owner. But then all the drama goes down. Because there are evil Belgians after the casino family. Right, Belgians. They’re not just for waffles anymore. I imagine that all Belgian gangsters are just like the people from the movie In Bruges because that’s the only time I think I’ve ever seen Belgium and gangsters in the same plot.

Except going to, they actually do.

Except going to, they actually do.

Yeah, the Belgians kill Jack’s wife and her family, so he ends up inhering the hotel. But then he manages to piss off Lady Luck (the physical embodiment of luck, not the idea). Which is not a great idea. Because she kills lucky gamblers in Las Vegas and sucks the extra luckiness out of their bones to keep herself juiced. Which is gross. And when you’re running a casino, it’s no good when the luck goddess is literally against you.

Without ruining it, suffice it to say that Jack gets away, but he gets away penniless (which I seem to recall is how he gets away in the first collection). He’s very easy won, easy lost.

Overall, the collection was fun, but it had kind of a popcorn feel: delicious and crave-able, but you hope something more substantial is coming along soon.

JMF Rating: 6.5/10

‘Til next time,

-JMF