In Cinderella: Fables Are Forever, the second miniseries featuring Fabletown’s number one spy, we learn how Cinderella travelled to the Soviet Union in the days of the Cold War, investigating rumors of a “Shadow Fabletown” of Soviet Fables. There, she met another secret agent Fable, who would go on to be her greatest nemesis (and if you haven’t read Cinderella: Fables Are Forever #1, I won’t spoil the identity of the nemesis here!).
So why a Shadow Fabletown in the Soviet Union? I guess it’s because I grew up in the last decades of the Cold War, and I miss having the Soviets as antagonists in spy stories. Not as “villains,” mind you, but “antagonists.”
Stories set in WWII and in the years leading up to the war have nature’s perfect villains already built in: the Nazis. Those guys make for GREAT villains, because they did such despicable things. If you’re dealing with a member of the Gestapo, it’s difficult to resist the temptation to make them entirely one dimensional as characters, not to simply portray them as cartoonish EVIL GUY.
But with the Soviets, things weren’t always so cut and dry. They’d been our allies during WWII, after all, and it was really only after the end of the war that they started cropping up as the enemy in spy stories. But growing up on those stories, I never got the sense that the Soviets were “evil,” but more that they were simply pursuing a different agenda. And so it was much easier for writers to cast Soviet agents in a sympathetic light, or even to use them as love interests for heroes from western powers.
In thinking about a community of Fables with different aims and agendas than those in Fabletown, it seemed only natural to use some of that same friction that I found in stories about American or British agents going up against their Soviet counterparts. And so what we have in the Shadow Fabletown isn’t a collection of “evil Fables,” so much as it is a group of Fables who see the world in a different way.
That said, Cinderella’s nemesis ISN’T a Soviet Fable, but is a western one who has gone to work for them as an assassin. And the same rules don’t apply. What does that mean? Well, you’ll have to check out Cinderella: Fables Are Forever and see for yourself!
Now for the cover of issue #5 by Chrissie Zullo: