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

The Story: Watch what you’re doing with that glass cat!  You break it, you bought it!

The Review: Does anything beat a good rivalry?  It’s a rhetorical question, because of course nothing does.  I’m quite a fan of the sitcom nemesis, the one who pops up every now and again to drop some mocking taunt just when the protagonist is at his lowest, but my next favorite is the ongoing, escalating face-offs between two enemies.  Done right, the stakes just get higher and the history between them even richer with each encounter.

And for an archenemy so recently introduced as Dorothy, it’s surprising how gung-ho you already feel for the big girl-fight with Cinderella to go down.  We can see from their first showdown in the past that even with Ivan’s help, Dorothy gets pretty much schooled by Cindy, who manages to take back the kidnapped Snow White and sucker-punch her freckled counterpart at the same time.  This incident will no doubt keep both women aiming for victory in their next match-up; Dorothy to avenge her defeat, Cindy to prove the last time was no accident.

The issue also calls attention to Cindy’s role as a career killer, a funny thing since the whole premise of the series revolves around that very fact.  But even in action she tends to be so darn cool and cute that you’re often inclined to overlook the grim implications of her day job.  Still, when Dorothy claims they both serve the same function, it speaks volumes that Cindy has no hesitation in denying it and making a clever distinction: one’s a mercenary, the other “a patriot”.

Meanwhile, in the present, Cindy takes control of her hostage situation thanks to Ivan making the first, daring move, which on top of all his other gallantry seals her attraction to this “guy with big ears who can make me laugh.”  The following scenes, not unlike a Showtime program, remind you what they mean when they call Vertigo a “mature” publisher.  Yet you’re never inclined to see Cindy as a floozy; unlucky in love, roughed up, and bracing herself for an even rougher confrontation with Dorothy, it’s no shocker she’d go for any moment of bliss within her grasp.

That said, you can’t forget Ivan’s a mischief-making Fable at heart, so the sudden toughness he demonstrates this issue (“Don’t worry, the fall won’t hurt you.  But stopping certainly will.”) seems suspiciously out of character.  It’s one of many other hints that Cindy would be wise to not let her guard down just yet, as we have plenty of evidence to assume that Dorothy has only become savvier and more resourceful than before.  The twist at the end of the issue proves as much; you’d have to be fairly ingenious to see it coming.

McManus makes some very noticeable inconsistencies in drawing the characters (Dorothy’s freckles come and go in various panels), and he doesn’t exactly bring much credibility to the fighting sequences (Cindy claims she kicks Dorothy when her back is turned, but McManus draws the two of them facing each other and the kick obviously strikes Dorothy’s hip).  His cinematic sense of paneling and POV more than makes up for these flaws, giving tons of energy to his rather simple, even plain, line-work.

Conclusion: As with any spy thriller—even one involving fairy tale protagonists—success depends on the credibility of the villain and the plot twists, and we get some good ones this issue.

Grade: A-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – I’m not a huge fan of tiny, yappy sort of dogs, but I was always kind of fond of Toto.  But looking at his squinchy, angry face in this issue, my instinct is to go for a punt.

– The horrified faces on those sentient spoons as they fall to their dooms will almost certainly keep me awake tonight.