It’s amazing how only a couple of elements can completely change the momentum of an ongoing series. In the case of Fables, I’m referring to the announcement of its conclusion and the exquisite issue, Fables #134. Both of these events have given a much-needed sense of renewed purpose to the series.
Mark Buckingham’s art is truly a wonder. Two double page spreads create the artistic center of this book, exploring the rebuilt Fabletown, while Rose and King Cole talk. The art could be both a diagram for a tour of a European castle or an illustration from a children’s book. That is the wonderful mix of fantasy and reality that Buckingham regularly achieves. The dialogue seems to be an excuse for reader’s to get lost exploring Fabletown, still a marvelous after more than a decade of publications.
The major story beats, four issues into the current arc, take on a new sense of vitality due to the announcement of Fables forthcoming conclusion. In particular, Rose’s quest to create a new Round Table seems more significant and special. This will be one of the last new creations this world has to offer and it speaks to what has made Fables an enjoyable comic for so long. It captures an old idea of children’s literature of chivalrous knights riding out to create to fight for good and complete epic quests. Yet it also shows what realistic, humanized characters like Rose are capable of: beginning as a selfish, drug addicted scam artist and slowly transforming into an inspiring leader and literal representation of both hope and second chances.
The abundance of characters in this comic does cause some issues of pacing. So much is occurring, as various arcs rise or fall, that no great progress is made. The fallout from Bigby’s death, Rose’s creation of a new round table, and the fate of Prince Brandish; all of these circumstances will take a great deal more time than one issue to fully explore.
This pacing is mitigated by both Mark Buckingham’s art and the sense of wonder that Willingham has always infused the series with.
Fables continues a large collection of plot threads, but with an ending in sight, the story is provided a new sense of momentum.