When it started back in 2002, the premise of Bill Willingham's Vertigo series Fables seemed to be pretty simple: characters from fairy tales inhabiting a modern world. Nearly 12 years and 140 issues later, it's clear that isn't 100 percent accurate. The series has evolved to be as much about creating new fairy tales as it is about the modern-day area of New York City known as Fabletown, and it became as much about the characters' pasts as it was about their presents.
That's more than evident in the opening pages of Fables #141, the issue that kicks off the 10-part, series-ending "Happily Ever After," by Willingham, Mark Buckingham (the artist who drew the bulk of the series), Andrew Pepoy, Steve Leialoha and Lee Loughridge. A new piece of lore sets up the inevitable conflict that will see the series through to its conclusion. It's an elegant piece of storytelling, and the rest of the issue is similarly understated in a way that builds toward a climax, but doesn't reveal too much. It's all table setting, but it's one very nicely set table.