Bill Willingham (author), Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Aaron Alexovich,
Andrew Pepoy (artists),
Fables: The Good Prince (Vertigo, 2008)

When a series is as consistently excellent as Fables, it can be extremely difficult to decide which is the finest issue or volume. However, The Good Prince, the tenth volume, certainly makes a strong case for itself as the best of the best.

Two threads twine together in the main chapters: the Fables preparing for war against the Adversary and the titular prince reclaiming his birthright and becoming a considerable thorn in the Adversary′s side. Perhaps war brings out the best in some people, for Prince Charming finally seems to rise to the occasion, becoming the kind of leader the Fables need: level-headed, clever and resourceful. Beast and Bigby have their roles as well, helping Fables to receive the best in military training -- for the Fables are hardly going to take an attack from the Homelands laying down, and, in fact, want to take the battle to them.

Who the Good Prince is, and how he builds an army -- and kingdom -- of his own is best enjoyed first hand. Let′s just say that it involves a certain magical sword, a famous knight of yore and the resurfacing of old friends and enemies. His story is sweet and satisfying and very significant for the battle to come.

Some interesting tidbits also surface about Frau Totenkinder, who will, no doubt, have a considerable role to play in the story ahead. Just what that role is isn′t entirely clear just yet, though.

Tucked in between the chapters of the main story, near the halfway mark, is a single chapter devoted to Snow White, Bigby and their cubs. On the cubs′ sixth birthday, Snow and Bigby swear them to secrecy, and finally reveal their seventh cub -- the nearly forgotten about zephyr, Ghost -- to his siblings. Curiosity and mild mayhem ensue, as Ghost isn′t quite as socialized as his corporeal brethren.

The Good Prince′s story may come to a close in this volume, but Willingham has brilliantly set the stage for the final conflict between the Fables and the Adversary′s Empire.

[April Gutierrez]

Bill Willingham′s official Web site is here