Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love, by Chris Roberson

Title: Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love
Author: Chris Roberson
Illustrator: Chrissie Zullo
Year of Publication: 2010
Length: 144 pages
Genre: graphic novel – magical realism
New or Re-Read?: New
Rating: 3 stars
Spoilers: Up through at least Fables 11

This is a spinoff from the Fables graphic novel series, focusing on the character of Cinderella — to most eyes, a flighty socialite whose shoe-selling business funds her obsession with designer brands and jet-setting travel. In truth, Cinderella is a spy for Fabletown, a covert operative constantly in and out of danger. If you’ve read the rest of the Fables series, you know this already, because you’ve seen her at work already. She’s ideal for the job because, as the heroine one of the world’s most popular and enduring stories, her legend is strong enough to make her nigh-invulnerable. She can take a point-blank shot to the head and be back on her feet in a matter of hours.

This collection makes reference to some recent happenings in Fabletown, which is why I put up the spoiler alert, but it doesn’t rely heavily on the main series. The plot is self-contained. The sheriff of Fabletown needs Cinderella to stop a black market trade in magical goods, which are in danger of finding their way into mundy hands. Her search leads her to Dubai, where she is first attacked by Arabian Fable Aladdin, then teams up with him when they realise they’re on the same mission, just dispatched from different groups. Aladdin is a pretty smooth charmer — which doesn’t impress Cinderella. As the infamous Prince Charming’s third (and thus-far final) wife, she’s jaded and now impervious to that particular power. As they work together, though, and he proves his prowess as a secret agent, he does start to grow on her a bit. I quite like him as a character — although I thought he was cuter before he lost the goatee. We also get to meet Cinderella’s three associates, agents who work for her without even the knowledge of her boss, the Fabletown Sheriff: Puss in Boots, Jenny Wren (of nursery rhyme fame, and lover of the slain Cock Robin), and Dickory Mouse (of Hickory Dickory Dock). Each has special talents, and she can summon each one once during her mission, wherever she is, thanks to a charm bracelet provided to her by the famed witch Frau Totenkinder — in exchange for an as-yet unnamed favour. Frau Totenkinder, after all, has her own agenda and keeps her own counsel.

I liked this collection, but there’s nothing super-special about it. The art was a bit plain, and I found myself wanting it to be a bit more sophisticated, to give that sultry, scandalous spy-thriller feel. I did like that we got a bit of jet-setting and plane-hopping (quite literally, in fact). It gave the story the chance to show off some different locales, and I enjoyed the surprise in the endgame. This is a nice supplement to the main storyline and a fun quick read, but overall, I prefer the more detailed, connected arcs.


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