Fables, v. 10: The Good Prince
Collects: Fables #60-9 (2007-8)
Released: June 2008 (DC / Vertigo)
Format: 240 pages / color / $17.99 / ISBN: 9781401216863
Fables, as I mentioned in my previous review, tells the story of characters and creatures out of legends and fairy tales who have made their way to our world as refugees from a world-devouring Adversary. In Fables, v. 10: The Good Prince, one of the Fables tries to reclaim a conquered kingdom for the first time as the rest of the Fables prepare and wait for war.
Writer Bill Willingham’s plot is essentially divided in two: the ramping up of tensions and revelations to what looks like an inevitable war and the story of bumbling janitor Fly, who becomes King Ambrose. The war preparations are more interesting; here, long-term hints are confirmed or denied, further threads are spun, and pieces are put in place for the final conflict. This is the path the series has been journeying down for six or so years, and it dominates the first half of the book.
Fly’s story, which occupies the second half, is a dead end, in which Fly goes to meet his destiny against the Adversary’s forces. After Fly arrives at his destination, his battles are seemingly effortless; he does what he wants, and the Empire’s troops are helpless to stop him. There’s little suspense here, even in whether Fly lives or dies, because either way, his story ends here. Mainly it seems an exercise in making the Adversary’s armies a more even match for the mobilizing free Fables.
Mark Buckingham does his usual great job on art, with an amazing amount of detail. As I said in my review of Fables, v. 7: Arabian Days (and Nights), I love his gorgeous art, with its smooth line and outstanding range. I still can’t help marveling over the page border art Buckingham designs for each setting in each issue, with the art occasionally taking over the border space if needed.
Also included is a one-issue story (#64) that focuses on Snow White and Bigby’s cubs learning the secret of their seventh sibling. It’s a nice change of pace in the middle of the book that doesn’t detract from the main plot. Aaron Alexovitch’s art is perfect for this more lighthearted tale; the art’s manga influences allow Alexovitch to show the exaggerated emotions of a pack of five-year-olds and Rose and Boy Blue’s awkward mutual crush.
Despite the unsatisfying chunks to the story, Prince keeps the story moving without derailing it. And until the big payoff, that’s really all we need, even if we hope for more.
Rating: (2.5 of 5)