By: Chris Roberson (writer), Shawn McManus (artist), Lee Loughridge (colors)

The Story: This time, Cinderella’s taking the catfight straight to Dorothy’s face.

The Review: Fables has sprung off a lot of quality spin-offs since its conception, but none have quite the pure, unadulterated fun of the mash-up between Cinderella and James Bond. Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love had such a strong execution of the idea that it was a pity it existed only as a limited series.  How great it is then to get another glimpse into the covert operations of Cindy—and with an even more apt title.

By now, every Fables writer has gotten to be an expert at taking our friendly, familiar fairy tales and turning them on their heads.  Roberson’s portrayal of Dorothy Gale as a professional hit woman works not only because of its twistedness, but also because of how much sense it makes when you consider the implications of her background.  After all, she was pretty much hired to assassinate the Wicked Witch; that she grew to love it shouldn’t be too implausible.

Cindy’s longstanding rivalry of sorts with Dorothy also gives us a welcome look into the former soot-covered girl’s history beyond her sordid affair with Prince Charming.  Whether she’s acting the bimbo in Fabletown or showing her real steel, Cindy’s kind of an oddball among the Fables. so it’s nice to see that in her world of allegorical espionage, she has a few counterparts—though lacking her fair appearance and disposition.

Most of what we know about Cindy’s bitter past with her arch-nemesis comes through flashback.  It’s a testament to Roberson’s skill that he gets you interested in the outcome of this plot too, even though it’s a foregone conclusion she and Snow White made it out fine.  It’ll be intriguing to see how Cindy will rescue Snow without revealing her true colors, and also where Russian Fable Ivan Durak comes into all this.

Since the present story has Cindy and Russian Fable Ivan Durak in a hostage situation—one she has no intention of getting herself out of—the flashbacks also serve a useful purpose of injecting some needed action into the mix and building up the tension for what’s bound to be the ultimate showdown between Cinderella and Dorothy.  And what better setting for this showdown than where it all started, in the land of Oz?

Now, last we heard of Oz, it had been one of the first Homelands taken by the Adversary, but when from the first look of things, it seems as rainbowy as you ever imagined it to be.  And yet, as the disturbing glass cat with its visible brains and the sentient silverware piloting gun-wielding clockwork humans indicate, probably not all is well in the land where dreams really do come true—especially if someone who’s become as twisted as Dorothy is running things.

Manus’ cartoony style can sometimes produce inconsistencies in the characters’ looks (Snow’s age and beauty varies from panel to panel), but it’s also capable of some surprisingly complex emotions: Cindy’s expression at Snow’s condescending remarks perfectly communicates the cocktail of hurt and offense she feels at being thought a “bubbleheaded gadabout.”

Conclusion: Still as fun a read as the very idea, you’ve never been quite so convinced that a once downtrodden, bedraggled girl can elevate herself to fairy tales’ finest secret agent.

Grade: B+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Having Snow go out clubbing with a  red bow in her hair may be one of the best things ever.

– There’s something really creepy about those automatons cradling their own heads in their arms.