Review: Cinderella: Fables are Forever

Bill Willingham’s Fables had a lot of break-out characters, but few were as fascinating as the book’s take on Cinderella. Care-free bon-vivant by day, fairy tale princess Cinderella was Fabletown’s sexiest super spy by night. Last year, Cinderella got her own miniseries, Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love, a book that was successful enough to warrant a follow-up from the same creative team. I was excited for From Fabletown With Love – there aren’t many good spy books on the shelves, and there are even fewer with a strong female protagonist – but it came at a time when I simply couldn’t afford comics on a monthly basis. Cinderella is an interesting character, and one well-suited to carrying her own very distinct book, so I was eager to give her a shot when I discovered a second mini was forthcoming.

Cinderella: Fables Are Forever starts of slowly. Fables Are Forever seems set to expand Cinderella’s personal cast and backstory, filling us in on previous missions and, more importantly, giving her a nemesis to return from the dead and haunt her. It wants to dramatically up the stakes, but to maintain an element of surprise, the Big Bad’s reveal doesn’t even occur until very near the end of the issue, giving us little time to process the revalation, let alone care about it.

Meet Dorothy Gale, simple Kansas girl, savior of Oz, high-price assassin codename Silverslipper. In the book’s afterward, writer Chris Roberson fully admits that the inspiration for this mini came from seeing the Wizard of Oz and realizing that Cindy needed a nemesis, and that shows in the mini. The first issue’s plot is unhurried to a fault, a quick introduction to Cindy and a few other of the story’s major players with no real hook other than the important characters. Bigby, Snow, the Beast – these characters all take a back-seat here to Cinderella, Dorothy and a small collection of Russian fables.

Shawn McManus’ art is simple and unadorned, though there are a few interesting touches. Most notable among them is his illustration of Dorothy, who appears to have broad, muscular shoulders at odds with her pig-tails and freckles. To be honest, something about her appearance seemed slightly off, though I’m not sure if that was on purpose. On the whole, however, the issue didn’t really give him anything particularly challenging to illustrate: seeing how he handles the mix of magic and mundane a Fables book requires, and how he blends that with the espionage-based action that is Cinderella’s bread and butter, will have to wait until another day.

Cinderella: Fables are Forever #1 is a solid but unspectacular entry into the series, more notable for its slightly surreal pairings – how many books can you go to to see Dorothy and Cinderella in an espionage-based death-match? – than for anything immediately present. Odds are good that Cinderella: Fables Are Forever will be a very enjoyable read in trade, but as a single issue, it just doesn’t offer enough to keep me coming back month after month.

Grade: B-

Cal Cleary

read/RANT

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