Willingham's Fables have their roots in the historic characters, but he re-imagined them with a number of modern twists. Among them: the double life led by Cinderella, publicly a ditzy rich shoe-store owner and fashionista but also Fabletown's top secret agent.
Although the premise seems to owe a lot to the Dreamworks version of William Steig's Shrek! and there is plenty of humor in Fables, Willingham's vision is generally bloodier and much more risque´. It's published by DC Comics Vertigo imprint, which the company suggests is for mature readers. What that actually means is that there will be some fairly explicit sexual references, quite a few four-letter expressions and cheesecake shots that go quite a ways beyond looking up Supergirl's skirt, but "suggested for 13-year-old readers trying to act the way they think grown-ups act" doesn't have the same ring to it.
In 2009 and 2010, writer Chris Roberson helped create a limited series dealing with Cinderella's mission to find out how magical artifacts were winding up in the hands of mortal folks like you and me, calling it Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love. The title riffs on the James Bond movie From Russia With Love.
Roberson maintains Willingham's sense of fun that has kept Fables a best-selling title since its early days. Cindy winds up working against and then with a number of legendary characters before learning the source of the magic artifacts and the plan behind their spread. Confronting the mastermind behind it all will involve confronting some of her own past, and Roberson handles that clever twist quite well. Artist Shawn McManus also has a good handle on the Fables concept, easily switching between fantasy and secret-agent scenes as needed.
Fables fans will obviously like From Fabletown, but regular comics readers will find it an enjoyable intro to the Fables universe as well. Persons put off by four-letter words, sexual innuendo and the like might balk at the read, but the blatantly adolescent tone of their use makes these features hard to take seriously enough for them to offend. Roberson, McManus and cover artist Chrissie Zulo will re-unite for the sequel, Fables are Forever,