Fables #137 represents an increase in momentum for the series as the long-running story Camelot and the series draw ever closer to their conclusions. Decisions are made and events begin to spin out of control in a way that is satisfying in the present, while adding promise for the series future.
The highlight of this issue lies in a change of perspective; Winter tells the story. This serves the dual purpose of addressing her evolution into the North Wind and providing an omniscient view of the world. Winter’s growth has not been addressed since she filled her grandfather’s role and it’s amazing, but not entirely surprising, how much it has affected her. Rather than just tell the reader about her evolution, Winter shows how much she has changed. Throughout the book, she goes about a variety of tasks, addressing many of the major powers in the Fables-verse like Santa Claus and The Snow Queen. These meetings help to provide necessary narrative propulsion as well.
Her omniscient narration helps to provide propulsion (and foreshadowing) to other plot threads as well. Stepping back from Rose Red’s personal dramas allows Camelot to finally take shape. After five issues spent pondering the nature of Rose Red’s creation, the selection of knights and outline of a new castle are much needed advancements. The greatest strength of the entire issue lies in this sort of improvement. Whether it’s in the advancement of Leigh’s machinations or Camelot’s evolution, it’s a much-needed change of pace. It feels like the reader may be sitting on Calvin’s sled, as Hobbe’s runs up from behind ready to set them plummeting downhill. We can only hope that the thirteen issues to come live up to that feeling of promise.
Although it is not as bad as previous issues, Fables #137 does suffer from its pacing. Changes in perspective and the conclusion of small plot threads help to move the story forward, but overall very little of consequence occurs. This fits the pattern of previous long-form story arcs like Cubs in Toyland, in which the majority of drama is saved for the last couple of issues. That does not make the pacing of early issues any more forgivable, it only helps to increase anticipation that Willingham’s foreshadowing will pay off.
The newest issue of Fables improves on the problems of earlier installments in Camelot, while creating a very real sense of foreboding and dread. It continues to weave together long running story threads that series’ fans will appreciate, while once again playing with a new perspective amongst the enormous cast. It’s a step up in quality that points to even better things to come.