Cover by Chrissie Zullo, click to embiggen
(Again, apologies for the title, I know, I'm terrible.)
The version of Cinderella that Bill Willingham re-invented for his Fables comics is probably one of our favorite characters here at Geektress. She wasn't often featured in the main title, though, and last year she was given her own spinoff mini-series, Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love. I'll admit that I was critical of that series. I was unfamiliar with Chris Roberson's work at the time, and felt the voice he gave to Cindy didn't necessarily feel "right." (I'm still unsure how to describe what was off about it, perhaps that she was too flippant?) I did like the artwork, the introduction of Aladdin, and the story and plot, so it wasn't as though the entire thing was a waste of my time.
Now we have a second mini-series, Cinderella: Fables Are Forever, which re-teams Chris Roberson with artist Shawn McManus. In the interim I managed to fall completely in love with Roberson's new series for Vertigo, iZombie. It's funny, it's highly stylized, and it has a grumpy talking monkey. I really don't know what more I could possibly ask for except perhaps a second attempt at telling a super secret Cinderella spy story. In other words, I was very happy last Wednesday.
(If you aren't caught up on Fables and don't want to be spoilered, you should stop reading now.)
From Fabletown With Love was a spin-off comic that really didn't need much setup. It wasn't part of the ongoing Fables storyline, and even if you weren't completely familiar with what goes on in the main title, "Cinderella is part of an immortal community of fairy tale characters in real life New York City, and she goes undercover as a spy" would pretty much be most of what you'd have needed to get through the mini-series.
This is not so with Fables Are Forever, to my initial chagrin. If you have not finished up the "Dark Man" storyline in the main title, you're going to be slightly spoilered when the first issue of Forever jumps right in to what's going on at The Farm. Myself, I read Fables in trade, and therefore am only caught up through the end of "Witches," which was up to issue #93. Given the last Cindy mini-series, I wasn't expecting to find out what happened from then until now. It was upsetting at first. I got over it, though.
What I can't get over is how quickly the story cut away from its setup to the spoilery "present day" setting. The first few pages set the scene: Flashback! Cinderella is in Cold War Russia. There is a second Fabletown behind the iron curtain: A secret Red Fabletown full of fairy tale cossacks leading double lives as officials in the Soviet government. Also Cinderella was in a bikini and wielding a gun. It promised to be a fantastic tale. I assume it plays out in further issues. For now, you pretty much only get those five pages, though.
The story moves on to present-day, and is mainly setup for what appears to be a showdown between Cindy and "Silver Slipper" -- whom you can probably guess is revealed at the end of the issue to be Dorothy Gale. Now, I seem to remember the Wizard of Oz crew showing up in the Jack of Fables title, as captives at the Golden Boughs Retirement Village. They presumably went their own way after the big breakout, but I can't remember the specifics there, as they weren't the main focus of that story.
According to my crack research team (Google, mostly), Dorothy appears in a new storyline in issue #101 of the main Fables title, which leaves a lot of explaining to do over her whereabouts from the Cold War to Jack of Fables 'til now. I suppose the mini-series will reveal that, and more, as Chris Roberson alluded to Newsarama last October:
Cinderella is this incredibly moral character who has taken on a job where she has to do all of these incredibly dubious things in the defense of her people. The inspiration for this second miniseries came when I realized that there was another fairy tale character who's background made them equally suited for that kind of life, and in this series we get to compare how the two character have chosen different paths along the way.
I know from iZombie that Roberson can weave witty stories with many other elements, so I'm hoping this time around he gets even more comfortable with the character. I would love for the Cinderella spin-offs to continue, and I hope they get better and better each time around. For anyone who has avoided picking them up, but who regularly reads Fables, I'm not sure what you're waiting for.