Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cinderella: Fables are Forever

Another excellent mini done, another something to review. Suppose I could leave it at that, but for those wanting a bit more info, here we go.

Like the previous Cinderella mini, this one skips about in time quite a bit, though not the centuries that the last did. This one ranges from 1943 to the present, with the bits from the past told in flashback by Cindy herself.

As a matter of truth in adverstising, this story should be called Dorothy Gale, Assassin. The hero of the L Frank Baum classics is Cindy's adversary for these six issues. It's a little coy about who the opponent is at the beginning, but the story soon becomes Dorothy's story more than Cindy's story. From Fabletown with Love had a lot that developed who Cindy is and what she does. We know that now and spend our time on developing Dorothy.

Turns out the lessons Dorothy learned from her time in Oz was that killing people (a couple of witches there) brought her fiduciary gain. When she escaped with the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, and Toto from the advancing armies of the Emperor, she eventually reached Fabletown. Leaving all but Toto in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, Dorothy made her way to Fabletown but found the contract for living there unsatisfactory, what with it not allowing contract killings. Cindy first saw Dorothy then but didn't speak with her.

It wasn't until the early '80s and the waning years of the Cold War that Cindy ran into Dorothy again. Dorothy was using Codename Silver Slipper as her nom du guerre at that point. She'd built quite a disreputation by this time and was working for the purlieu shadow Fabletown. Seems that Fables unknown to the residents of the NY Fabletown and Farm had set up their own operations around the world. They were in small cells and often involved themselves in governing the Mundys of the locality.

Cindy's first contact with Dorothy in '83 was brief, as Cindy was more interested in escaping a Russian dragon. A second encounter in '86, with an unwitting Snow White as bait, resulted in the presumed death of Dorothy in Switzerland. Dorothy ended up in the custody of the Golden Boughs Retirement Community personnel from Jack of Fables fame. They wiped her memory. She didn't escape until the events in Jack of Fables took down the organization. It took longer still for Dorothy to regain all of her memory, including what happened to the silver slippers (the original Baum description of the shoes, not the ruby slippers of the Hollywood version).

In the present, a Russian Fable named Ivan Durlak comes to Cindy looking for help because he says he's Dorothy's target due to a falling out he had with the ruler of the Russian Fables. This leads to Cindy and Ivan going to Thailand and Burkina Faso to finds Dorothy. Cindy intends this to lead to their capture by Dorothy, as that's what happened previously when the Burkina Faso contact had once claimed to be defecting from the shadow Fabletowns.

Dorothy's not only a mercenary but, near as I can tell, is ruling Oz, too. The silver slippers probably help with that. She has other characters from Oz doing her bidding, and she's more than willing to sacrifice them in service of her goal of taking out Cindy. Dorothy has an inferiority complex about Cindy, both in terms of skill and motivation. While Cindy does kill people on occasion, it's in service of her duties protecting Fabletown. Dorothy kills people because she likes it and gets paid.

In the end, Dorothy springs a surprise on Cindy, but the end result is the same as Cindy intended when she goads Dorothy into freeing her so they can fight to prove who's the better. At that moment, Cindy's already proven who's better, as she wouldn't have let a prisoner go just to prove something. Dorothy appears to be deceased again, but with her popularity, that seems unlikely to stick.

I've been much enamored of Fables as a concept and in its execution. The Cinderella minis that have spun off, written by Chris Roberson, have retained that high quality story telling and character devopment. The new directions given long established characters in the popular consciousness is fantastic. The use of lesser known fables throughout the stories is an extra prize that brings me knew characters to explore altogether.

The interior art by Shawn McManus is excellent, as it was in From Fabletown with Love. He has his own style but it's not dissimalar from Mark Buckingham's styly on Fables, so it feels like it all belongs in the same family of stories. The use of sepia colors for flashbacks is much appreciated, too, as it keeps it easy for the reader to know that the time frame has changed.

Of course, the best aspect of the art is the cover art by Chrissie Zullo. I love the stained glass quality of it. There's a stylized stillness to it that manages to capture the suggestion of motion.

Altogether, a book well worth getting in trade if you haven't read it already.

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