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

The Story: Clean the house, Cinderelley, kill off that assassin, Cinderelley.

The Review: Perhaps the most brilliant thing about Fables is how even though it’s a serious plot and character driven series, with quite a lot of dark material, because the very nature of its characters is childish, it can easily turn itself on its head and become fun and even silly.  It’s hard to think of any title that typifies this more than Cinderella: Fables Are Forever.  Though clearly a parody of many things, it never fails to demonstrate a sullenly grim streak, a potent combo.

Look at Dorothy.  This twisted version of the famous girl-child still works incredibly well.  Roberson seems to posit that instead of longing for home after seeing the big wide world, she has tasted the endless possibilities of the world and lusts for more, until only the challenge of killing keeps her interested.  But it would’ve been more interesting had Roberson explored a little further Dorothy’s amnesiac period, when she regressed to innocence, implying there may still be a small town farm-girl under that ruthless assassin’s persona.

In the end, perhaps what turns out to be Dorothy’s real weakness is that she is still a girl, despite her raw, sordid personality and lifestyle.  She exhibits with almost childish lack of control some of the most grating flaws of many young gals: cattiness (“You complete and utter bitchGod, will you shut up, already?!”), an unnervingly fickle temperament, and self-centeredness (“You don’t even know how smart I am!”), all of which prove her undoing.

Cinderella by conception is an older character than Dorothy, possibly a basis for Cindy’s much greater stability and self-awareness.  Our formerly soot-covered hero already knows the secret to maturity: “I’ve got nothing to prove.”  Her tail-turning maneuver this issue isn’t a sign of inferiority compared to Dorothy (as she definitively proves later), but of adult sense.  She doesn’t fight because it’s something she loves to do; it’s just a means to accomplish her goals.

Though the repetition of Cindy’s contrast of patriots and mercenaries seems quoted, or at least heavily paraphrased, from last issue, Roberson qualifies it a little more by injecting some doubt into her distinction.  When she wonders, “But does that prove a patriot can beat a mercenary when the chips are down?  I don’t know.  But I sure hope so,” it hints to us that despite her cool confidence in her work, she may feel and may always feel a little guilty about she does.

McManus’ plain, simple style wouldn’t seem to have a lot of range, but he does creative things with it to achieve energy and intensity sometimes a bit at odds with his cartoonish figures.  Dorothy’s the perfect example.  Even when she curses up a storm and engages in brutal violence, she just looks inescapable adorable.  The contrast really works for a story that is at once thrills and seriousness, but campy and satire as well.  Loughridge’s similarly plain, straightforward colors achieve the same effect, giving a funny brightness to the most toxic scenes.

Conclusion: Despite being such a mash-up of different tones and subject matter, or maybe because of it, this title achieves an almost ideal balance of weird, silliness, sobriety, and darkness.

Grade: A

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Women and their shoes.  Am I right?

– Rough break for Toto.  I think he just got abandoned in the Deadly Desert there.