Graphic Novel Review: Cinderella: Fables are Forever by Chris Roberson


July 5, 2012 by Heidi

Cinderella Fables Are Forever by Chris RobersonTitle: Cinderella: Fables are Forever [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Chris Roberson [Website|Twitter]
Artist: Shawn McManus, Chrissie Zullo (Cover Art)
Other Credits: Bill Willingham (Consultant), Lee Loughridge (Colorist), Todd Klein (Letterer)
Standing: Second installment in the Cinderella Fables spin-off, but can be read as a standalone.
Genre:  Graphic Novel, Fairy Tale, Spy
Published: April 24th, 2012 by DC Comics
Format: Paperback; 154 pages.
Source: Borrowed from my local library.
Spoilers!: I’ve kept them out of the review, but bear in mind this graphic novel contains very minor spoilers for the Fables series.  Chronologically, it takes place after Fables: Super Team (#16), so go read those first!

There is a difference between a patriot and a mercenary.
I do what I must to protect the people of Fabletown.  I do those things so they don’t have to.

Cinderella’s back and ready for action in the second full-length volume of her own Fables spin-off.  When one of the residents of the 13th floor shows up dead with a calling card, Cindy knows that silver slipper means only one thing: her old enemy and arch nemesis.  She’s had run-ins before while investigating the Shadow Fabletown behind the iron curtain in the 80s, and now it appears a fight she thought was long over is just getting started.  Assisted by an incredibly suspicious Ivan the Fool, Cindy takes off to track down her opponent and put an end to a long standing grudge.

I’m very sad to report that Robinson’s second installment was less bang and more bust than From Fabletown With Love.  I’m always wary of spin-offs, particularly those not piloted by the original author, and here I was proven right.  Fables are Forever lacked the vibe and depth of the overarching Fables series; reading this graphic novel felt pretty much the same as going to sleep on a full air mattress, and waking up on a flat one.  I’m disappointed, sore, and a little bitter.

The plot of Fables are Forever felt to me as if it were really pushing too hard to create something interesting, when maybe something simpler would have sufficed.  I never really understood our villain, or the motivations, and this always bothers me greatly.  I like to get into my baddies’ heads and know what makes them tick, even if they’re just power crazed and nutso, I like to know it.  I couldn’t really get a feel for this one.  The same held true for this sudden introduction of the ‘Shadow Fabletown’ that was supposed to have existed during the Cold War.  This was jarring to me as it’s something that seems very major and pertinent, and yet has never been so much as mentioned in the Fables series.  In From Fabletown With Love we dealt with Fabletown East, and this was great!  This was something that tied back to the original series, but which we didn’t have a ton of details on.  Shadow Fabletown was a completely new invention in Fables are Forever, and I had a hard time swallowing it.  I craved more foundation, more substance, and I’m afraid that without it the action couldn’t find its footing.  On top of this, the giant plot twist was a bit much for me.  Not the kind that shocks and awes and makes me tip my hat, but the kind that literally turns my stomach (and not in a good way).

Fables are Forever wasn’t all bad though.  It was fun to delve into a story that hasn’t gotten a lot of play yet in Fables, and if I’m to understand, will be getting more in the next volume of the main series as well.  The Wizard of Oz fans will thrill at the inclusions of characters and story points that are true to the books and not the well-known movie.  I, not having read the books, didn’t really appreciate this one to its full extent, and I’m sure an Oz fan would enjoy it more.  There was one aspect to Fables are Forever that I adored though—Chrissie Zullo’s cover art:

Cinderella: Fables are Forever cover art by Chrissie ZulloCinderella: Fables are Forever cover art by Chrissie ZulloCinderella: Fables are Forever cover art by Chrissie Zullo

With two volumes of Cinderella under her belt, Chrissie Zullo has secured a spot in my heart as one of my favorite graphic artists.  I love her work, and spent at least as much time gaping at her gorgeous covers as I did reading the actual text.  She regularly posts updates of her art on her blog, and I highly suggest you check it out.

Likelihood that I’ll be back for more: Eh, probably.  I may have been highly disappointed in Fables are Forever, but given my rampant Fables addiction and the fact that they’re such quick reads, I’ll probably give it another go.

Recommended for: Fables fans, Oz fans, anyone who likes the idea of seeing Cinderella kick butt and take names in a more traditional sense than we see in Throne of Glass.

Real life repercussions of reading this book:  I’ve finally become resolved that I really must read The Wizard of Oz books someday.  I’m sure my lack of appreciation for this one was largely due to not getting all of the references.

Get a second opinion:
Lulu’s Bookshelf

I’ve also reviewed:
Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love


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  1. VeganYANerds says:

    I’m not a big reader of GNs, I own about 4 and that’s it but I do like the idea of fairy tale characters kicking butt and the artwork is gorgeous!

    • Heidi says:

      Yeah, graphic novels aren’t for everybody, but I was happen when I first started reading them to discover that there’s such a wide variety out there. I had always assumed it was all super hero stuff. Fables is a fantastic series, all involving fairy tale characters living in modern day times. Love it!

  2. I am almost embarrassed to admit that I’ve never been able to grasp the concept of reading a graphic novel. I’ve looked at varying degree of them and my children are AVID readers of manga and different graphic novels, but I just can’t pick up the story without words. it’s sad sad sad to me.

    • Heidi says:

      Hehe, that’s nothing to be embarrassed about! They’re certainly not for everyone. I’m a very visual person, so I really got into them, and I know some people who hardly read anything but. I think a lot of people just won’t click with them, and the reading of them doesn’t necessarily come naturally.

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.