Wednesday, February 9, 2011

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Cinderella: Fables Are Forever #1

BAD THING: The central conceit of this story is that Cinderella - now a secret super-spy for the Powers That Be behind Fabletown - is forced to confront another secret agent she thought was dead, her equal and opposite member who used to work for the Russians. This is a great idea but I had thought they would have played with this a little bit before the big reveal, which comes near the end of this first issue. I think a little more build might have benefited the story a bit.

GOOD THING: That being said, the reveal itself is brilliant and the enemy in question is PERFECT, given the circumstances hinted at in the previews and the story itself leading up to that moment.

This... is perfect.

Both heroines have a slipper motif to their stories (Glass vs. Silver). Both are working-class girls that were elevated to a heightened position (maid/slave vs. farm girl) through magic.

Now I know what you're thinking - why is Dorothy Gale, an American heroine, working for the Russians/The Adversary? Well, I think it makes an odd sense given what we know of the nature of Fables.

It's fairly well accepted at this point that the popularity of a Fable with the public at large gives them a degree of power, the least of which is invulnerability and near immortality. It has also been established, by Jack Horner masquerading as a human movie executive so he could make a fortune making movies about himself, that movies and other electronic medium in the modern mundane world are more powerful than simple books and that they tend to shape the Fable to fit how most people view that character. That's why any Fable who has been turned into a Disney Princess is functionally invincible whereas more obscure characters aren't.

So let's consider Dorothy Gale, who is almost certainly better well known for the movie The Wizard of Oz than the original books. Hence why she looks kind of like a twisted Judy Garland here. And then let us consider what we know of Dorothy from the movies.

Well, if you go by the movies, The Wizard of Oz is a tragedy.

Think about it. Dorothy goes from a poor dirt farm in Kansas and is whisked away to a magical realm over the rainbow. Where not only are the concerns of the gray, dull world she left behind not an issue - she's an honest to goodness hero who slays two witches, frees numerous enslaved peoples and becomes beloved by everyone.

And then... she goes home. Back to where she is not a hero and her talk of a magical land is dismissed as the rantings of a lunatic. Back where the rich lady who owns the town is just waiting to have Toto put to sleep under threat of kicking Auntie Em and the rest of the family out on the street. Back where, rural Kansas being what it was back then, her best hope is getting married off to some rich townie before her looks fade.

But you aren't supposed to think about that, because "there's no place like home" and the whole thing was probably a dream anyway. Right?

Now, I can easily see Dorothy falling in with the Communist movement during the whole fiasco in the Dust Bowl and the many incidents that later inspired the writings of John Steinbeck. Which, in turn, could lead to her becoming a Russian spy as their belief in equality for all would have been more in keeping with the ideal societies in Oz.

And this is totally ignoring whatever influence Wicked might be having on Dorothy. I think more people today sympathize with The Wicked Witch than they do Dorothy.

The Final Verdict: Great book. That's all I can say without spoilers. If you haven't read it already, go grab the recently released trade paperback of Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love.


  1. "Silver Slipper" does not immediately recall Dorothy unless you are very familiar with the book - it's usually 'Ruby Slippers' that's recalled very much.
    The funny thing is, Oz-wise, there was a Russian adaption of Wizard of Oz in which the translator liberally re-wrote Dorothy into a Russian type named Ellie.
    So if you account for this, Dorothy being co-opted by the Russians also makes sense.

  2. Dorothy could be a Russian agent because of the Russian Oz novels (see Alexander Melentyevich Volkov on Wikipedia)

  3. I loved the books. It left me with a burning hatred of the movie.

  4. That's always the way though, isn't it? Everything from Percy Jackson to The Dark is Rising. Hell, even Eragon - which is a horrible book - was made into an even worse movie!

  5. Yes, someone else made the same point. I did not know that! Very cool.