Fables Volume 10: The Good Prince.
Collecting 'Fables' Issues 60-69.
Written by Bill Willingham.
Pencils by Mark Buckingham (60-63&65-69) & Aaron Alexovich (Issue 64)
Inks by Steve Leialoha (60-63&65-69).
Last time, The Empire gathered its "greatest" minds, to debate tactics for their upcoming invasion of Fabletown. But, because they're the villains of this story, their efforts were somewhat slowed by their own infighting and disagreements on how exactly Fabletown, and the Mundy world, would react to their attempts at Fablecide. Then, Bigby and Snow took their uncontrollable brood off to see the Silver Fox, AKA, North Wind. It went REAL well. This week, we forget all that other nonsense and tell a truly epic tale, of Arthurian proportions!
Chapter 60: Flycatcher - Chapter One of The Good Prince.
Flycatcher is having a rough old time. After having his memories restored by Santa Claus, he's overcome with guilt and has one thought on his mind:
So, he sets off the The Farm to talk tactics with his best friend, Blue.
Meanwhile, diplomatic relationships with The Empire break down again. Because the Empire are dicks and have no real desire for actual diplomacy.
Chapter 61: Forsworn - Chapter Two of The Good Prince.
It turns out that Flycatcher's plan is actually a little bit rubbish. Thankfully, he's got his boy, Blue, to talk him out of it. Meanwhile Buffkin causes chaos and Totenkinder reveals some surprising information.
Chapter 62: Knighthood - Chapter Three of The Good Prince.
The Forsworn Knight is free of his prison and scrubs up pretty well. Then, we get a crash course in Arthurian mythology, and find out why Lancelot should use his Lance a little less.
Chapter 63: Home - Chapter Four of The Good Prince.
Both sides of the war carry on planning, full of confidence that they've out-thought their enemies. Meanwhile, in the Lands Below Flycatcher, or as we should call him now, Ambrose, begins to gather a most unusual army.
Chapter 64: The Birthday Secret.
And now, for something completely different. We take a break from the classic heroics, to join Clan Bigby on the 5th birthday of their wild brood. A birthday which they'll remember forever, as it's the year they're told the big family secret!
Chapter 65: Duel - Chapter Five of The Good Prince.
The war plans continue, on both sides, as Totenkinder lets Beast in on one of her (presumably many) secrets. Meanwhile, Ambrose and his followers continue their impossible march through the Lands Below.
Chapter 66: Envoy - Chapter Six of The Good Prince.
Ambrose forms his new Kingdom, and sends Lancelot to act as Envoy to The Empire. They take it badly, but it's cool; Lancelot knows what he's doing. Then, Ambrose receives a most welcome visitor.
Chapter 67: Haven - Chapter Seven of The Good Prince.
Ambrose takes the field, against The Adversary's undefeated Sixteenth Horde. Can Ambrose's unorthodox tactics win, where so many before him have failed?
Chapter 68: Kingdom - Chapter Eight of The Good Prince.
Turns out the answer is yes, but also kinda no. As Ambrose's victories increase and his legend builds, so too does The Adversary's hatred for him. And so, Geppetto unleashes his most fearsome horde on the small kingdom of Haven!
Chapter 69: Eternal - Chapter Nine of The Good Prince.
Ambrose has made the ultimate sacrifice, to stop the Wooden Army... or did he?
As his magic is fully unleashed, the small kingdom of Haven attains peace, once and for all!
Well... That was a little different, wasn't it? I mean, don't get me wrong, it had the usually twisted takes on classic stories that we've come to expect from this series, but at it's heart there was a real classical heroic tale. Rather unexpected, but absolutely welcome, nonetheless! Always been a fan of Flycatcher, and now I'm starting to understand why!
That was quite a tale. I mean, scattered about we had a few interesting points, for the overarching tale. We now know that The Adversary never had any intention of negotiating, but let's be fair, we already knew that. And we found out that Totenkinder has some serious plans going on, behind the scenes... but I've been saying that for about 8 volumes now. Although I must admit I'm questioning her motives a LITTLE less, after this volume. She now seems more like a benevolent puppetmaster, controlling events from behind the scenes, rather than a future dictator waiting to strike. Which, I guess is better. Isn't it? But, while the main story moved along a touch, the REAL body of this tale was pure, classic mythology.
And I've got to say, I loved every page of it! which is good, because this volume was an ABSOLUTE beast of a tale. At ten chapters long, this was by FAR the longest arc we've had yet, but I hope it's the first of many to come!
It was great to really get a chance to sink my teeth into a meaty story. And this was meaty! I don't know if it's just me, but this felt like the most... literary tale yet. Each beautifully illustrated panel was packed with paragraphs of text. This arc really felt like Willingham decided to really cut loose and show us just what he can do, when given the chance to spin a tale.
Honestly, it was probably the most straightforward story, too. For all its overtures towards deconstructing fairy tales, and giving us a more 'modern' take, this volume was pure storybook. The good guys were good, and true; they forgave friend and enemy alike, abjured violence wherever possible, and generally reveled in the power of friendship. Meanwhile, the villain spent almost as much time fighting each other as they did fighting the heroes, constantly plotting in secret and all but twirling their mustaches in maniacal glee as they attempt to destroy Ambrose and his fledgeling kingdom...
But, of course, they always lose. Because friendship and teamwork will ALWAYS beat backstabbing and betrayal! And, at the end of the day, the kindhearted king marries his lady love, gives his friends sweet jobs, and everyone lives happily ever after.
Honestly, I feel like I'm missing something here. Seriously, am I missing something huge?
Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this volume. It was a strong, self-contained story about how Ambrose the mild-mannered janitor became the king of his own utopian kingdom, and does it all without spilling a single drop of blood...
I just don't understand why this admittedly heartwarming tale sits in the middle of the main story, while ignoring it for 90% of the time. They even make a point of really hammering home that Haven is the third option. It won't take any part in the war, and will welcome ANY Fable, from any side, as long as they totally forsake the conflict.
Now, I understand why it's important, almost vital, to show that not every Fable is onboard with the idea of a giant war... But did we really need a massive arc to show that?
Honestly, I'm a little torn right now. I really loved this arc, but it felt SO out of place. In what is meant to be a gritty, modern, more realistic take on classic fables, we have this almost saccharin zero to hero story, which falls into pretty much every single trope that Fables is meant to be deconstructing and I'm left a little unsure as to exactly why this story had to be told, and had to be told NOW.
Honestly, I'm a little worried. It's clear that we're about to jump into a fairly brutal war arc. The residents of Fabletown are drafting in various militia types, training in sniping, commando warfare, and all kinds of brutal tactics. The Adversary is planning... god knows what, in retaliation, and then we have Totenkinder and Geppetto, continuing their secret proxy war.
And, right before all this kicks off, we have a classic fairy tale, where good wins, without shedding a drop of blood, the enemy becomes a friend, and everyone lives happily ever after.
I can't help but think... is Willingham giving us one last, pleasant memory, before the bleak times begin?
Overall, Volume 10 is a very strong, self contained story, of one unassuming man's rise to near godhood. It's light and fluffy and has some great action... but it feels a LITTLE out of place in a series that has always tried to avoid tropes and cliches. But, I trust Willingham, so now I can't help but think he's just trying to soften the inevitable blow...
If you want to see where the blow lands, come back next time for Fables Volume 11: War and Pieces (oooh no), collecting chapters 70-75. The war has begun, as the Fables trapped in our world muster their forces and mount an aerial — and land — assault on The Adversary's armies and gateways. Great triumph and terrible tragedy unfolds as the battle for the Homeworlds rages!
So, if you want to read along, you can find Fables at your Local Comics Shop, or on Comixology/Amazon. But go to the comic shop, they're WAY nicer and need your support a helluva lot more.
Taheg Gloder is a Freelance Copywriter from England. Obsessed with comics and Manga since his teens, he now splits his time between writing comic reviews and retrospectives for POP, and doing reactions on his YouTube Channel, The Dragon & The Hound. He lives alone, because he’s a hermit.