For those who don't read "Fables," you might not know that in that particular comic universe, not only are fairy tale characters real, they're also living in secret among us. More importantly, you also might not know that Cinderella is more than former royalty; she's Fabletown's secret black ops spy. And now that you know that, you might start to understand when I say that it's nice to see a new "Cinderella" mini-series.
The entire creative team from the previous mini-series is back, and clearly they're making up for lost time. Chris Roberson's script is fun right from the get go, opening with a mission to Russia in 1983, before jumping to the present-day as elements from that earlier trip come back to haunt Cinderella. There's a lot packed into this first issue, from the idea of a Cold War Shadow Fabletown full of Soviet Fables (which considering how few there were in the main series, is a clever addition to the mythos), to the silver slipper charm calling card left by the killer. By the end of the issue, Roberson's delivered everything you need to know for this mini-series.
I'm also impressed with Shawn McManus's art, which is probably some of his best career work to date. His characters have always looked well-rounded (a quality I remember from his runs on "Sandman" and "Doctor Fate") but here it's more than just that. There's a finer sense of detail here, and the staging of his pages are strong. There are a couple of moments in particular, like the last page of Cinderella and the Beast together, that made me do a double-take and think that Arthur Adams had stepped in for a minute. And as for Chrissie Zullo's cover, well, any time we get new art from Zullo it's reason to celebrate.
Regular readers of "Fables" will be glad to see that this new mini-series is better synced up with the events of the parent title (the first issue here taking place amid the evacuation of the Farm in "Fables" #100). Or rather, to a point. Two characters show up here that we've actually seen before (one in the early days of "Jack of Fables," the other one just last month in "Fables" #101) and to be honest, neither of those depictions or situations quite fit with what Roberson's doing here. That's a pity because any even semi-avid reader of the title is going to notice this, and on some level it throws you out of the story. I understand that at the end of the day Roberson probably just wanted the best villain for this story, but you'd have thought someone (either creator Bill Willingham or editor Shelly Bond) would have raised a red flag on this one. Ah well.
Still, potential continuity tangles aside (and there's always a chance we're in for a surprise on how this fits in), it's a good opening issue. Roberson has fun playing with his spy game tropes (even down to a Cold War opening scene, after all), and there's definitely room in the "Fables" universe for a shift into action-suspense-thriller once a year or so. I'm looking forward to the next issue already.