The tenth collection of Fables comics, "The Good Prince" (and its companion volume, The Bad Prince) continues to delight with its thoroughgoing exploration of one of the better conceits in comics today. Fables is the long-running, multiple-award-winning comic series in which every legendary being of every land — and all of the elements of storytelling, like the pathetic fallacy — are exiled to earth by a cruel and conquering emperor.
The Fables creators have lots of room to play with this idea — fourteen volumes so far, including four spinouts — and they're really going for it. The side-plots have explored everything from Hollywood's vulnerability to Jack of Fables to the special problems of human-wolf mating, the handling of conspiracy nuts who get too close to the truth, and the claustrophobia of a whole world when you aren't allowed to reveal yourself in it.
But all the way through, Fables has been moving toward a conclusion, a major battle in which the Fables try to reclaim their ancestral lands from the evil emperor. And that's where The Good Prince comes in. In this volume, the stage is really set for the final conflict between the two armies, through a set of transformations to some of the series oldest and most complex characters (some of whom have been offstage for a book or two).
At nearly 250 pages, this book feels roomier than some of the others, and there's a lot of laying-of-groundwork going on, the sense of pieces being put into place for a major offensive. And for all that, there's still a complete and satisfying chapter in this one.