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Fables’ Newest Threat Was Almost the Eisner-Winning Classic’s Ultimate Big Bad

Fables officially reveals how powerful their take on Peter Pan is — and quietly reaffirms what would have been his original place in the story.

The following contains spoilers for Fables #152, now on sale from DC Comics

Fables #152 carries on the continuation of the Eisner Award-winning Vertigo classic, restoring some notable characters while also setting up some new figures for the story. One of these characters was even supposed to debut far earlier in the series — giving his new role some surprising deep connections to the history of the series.

Fables #152 (by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Lee Loughridge and Todd Klein) formally reveals how powerful the comic’s new take on Peter Pan really is — setting him as a major force going forward and quietly referencing his original place in the story’s mythos.

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When Fables began, writer Bill Willingham opted to only use fairytale and folklore characters who were technically free of any copyright protection. However, this ended up affecting the story immensely, as he discovered his original idea for the story’s ultimate villain, a dark take on Peter Pan, wouldn’t be possible. Willingham changed the unseen adversary to Geppetto from Pinnochio​​​​​. This ended up having a huge positive impact on the series, as Geppetto proved to be one of the story’s most enduring and important antagonists. Even in the continuation of the series after Geppetto has been reduced greatly in power and influence, the wood-carver is hard at work trying to reaffirm his place of power, especially in light of the damage carried out in Fables #150.

All that takes a back seat though, when a mysterious man arrives in the ruins of Fabletown to confront Geppetto. Notably, in a series where Geppetto has rarely shown even god-level figures due respect, he’s far more deferential to this man — who, accompanied by the small glowing fairy, Tink, is clearly meant to be Peter Pan. It turns out that Pan had given Geppetto some of the powers that helped the villain create his empire. In exchange, he was given one order — not to attack Earth, as it was “Pan’s private hunting reserve” where he could lure away little boys. Geppetto’s attempts to weasel his way out of trouble for breaking his oath to Pan quickly fall apart and Tink attacks the villain, who only survives the assault because of the litany of spells he’d placed on himself over the years, which drain him and revert the wood-carver to a nobody.

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It’s especially impressive how effortlessly Pan and Tink took Geppetto down, given that Fables has shown Geppetto to be practically immortal. In terms of debuts, Peter Pan, who briefly appeared in the previous issue before truly showcasing his power and connection to the world in #152, makes an impressive one. This is saying a lot when considering the sheer power of the other characters in the franchise like Frau Totenkinder.

Notably, it also suggests that Pan has a great deal of power, enough to effectively serve as an early cause for Geppetto’s eventual control of a massive kingdom that stretched beyond multiple worlds. In essence, Pan has retconned to have been the ultimate villain of the series all along — meaning he didn’t completely lose his place in the story even after being removed from his original position as the adversary. Twenty years later, Peter Pan is finally in the series — and playing the kind of role he was always meant to.

Brandon Zachary is an Associate Writer with Comic Book Resources and has written for CBR since 2018. He covers breakouts on comics, film, television, video games, and anime. He also conducts industry interviews, is a Rotten Tomatoes certified film critic, and knows SO MUCH about the X-Men. For requests, comments, or to hear his pitch for a third Avatar series that incorporates robots, you can contact him through bs.zachary@gmail.com.

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