The Unwritten #53 – Review

The Unwritten #53 – Review

The Story: The Fables characters come up with a plan to defeat Mr. Dark.

Review (with SPOILERS): I’ve been really hard on this crossover between The Unwritten and Fables. The major problem being that it isn’t much of an Unwritten story. It’s just a nice, cute story of Good battling Evil in the Fables universe….with the Tommy Taylor literary characters merely guest stars. The story is much more about Frau Totenkinder, Fly, Bigbie Wolf, Mr. Dark and Snow White.

None of those problems has vanished in this issue and I still think it is a darn shame that The Unwritten has to finish its Volume 1 run with a paint-by-numbers Fables story.

However, there are a couple little glimmers of hope peeking through in this issue. It’s nothing as deep as The Unwritten was before this crossover, but it shows that the series isn’t totally killing time until Volume 2 launches this winter. The first idea that caught my attention came out during discussion between Frau Totenkinder and Tommy Taylor. It was the concept that there are two concepts of self. One is your biological construct: your heart, your skin, your hair, etc. The other concept of self is your name and the story of you. In a way, you are nothing but a story. If you moved to another place in the world, you could just become somebody new by having a new story. So….this was check-box #1.

The second came out in conversation between Mr. Dark and Pullman regarding the concept that all of us are nothing but stories that someone else has heard about. If you know about a story, you can summon it into your world; the Fables have a real world, but are also stories in “our world”…..and vice versa. At a surface level, it sounds like they’re talking about something like the DC Universe “multiverse” and I thought: YUCK! We’ve seen plenty of “multiverse” stories and I don’t want that in my Vertigo comics. But, if you drill down on this concept and combine it with what Frau Totenkinder was talking about, you could apply this multiverse on a personal level. We’re all our own stories and we invite our friends and family (themselves “stories”) to crossover to our own universe. Hmmmm….

The third snappy idea was when Pullman complained about his supper and said that he’d rather eat the liver of Leviathan. Throughout the run of The Unwritten, Leviathan has seemed like it might be some kinda universal beast that simply enjoys stories. Pullman is the embodiment of the Biblical Cain and is one of Leviathan’s favorite stories…..so Pullman/Cain can never truly die. But, he’s old and world-weary and ready to die, therefore he’d like Leviathan to die so that he can finally have some peace. One thing that is becoming increasing clear to me is that Leviathan is really just all of us; it’s the collective consciousness of humanity. So, if Pullman wants to kill Leviathan so he can finally rest-in-peace, he’s really talking about a genocide against humanity. If there are no more humans, there is nobody left to keep the story of Cain alive and Pullman can finally rest. Hmmmmmm…….

So, that is three snappy ideas. Some of them have burbled around in The Unwritten for a long time, but they’re pretty clear now. Ordinarily, this is the type of comic that could get an “A”, but I’d still rather not have Fables characters helping me to this conclusion. I mean, why not do a crossover with Moby Dick? This crossover just serves to put Fables on a pedestal that it really doesn’t deserve. I mean, Fables is a nice comic, but in 50 years, nobody will really care. So, if we’re really exploring the immortal nature of stories, why not pick something like Moby Dick or Beowulf or the Bible or the Canterbury Tales or Greek Mythology?

The art is again very solid. The Unwritten is always “solid”. I wish I could sometimes give it higher praise for mesmerizing art, but it hasn’t hit those peaks since “the old days” when Vince Locke would ink every 5th issue. But, please don’t take “solid” to be a back-handed compliment. It is so easy for comic art to go horribly wrong (GI Joe #8). This issue doesn’t have any weird faces, no funky anatomy, no unclear story-telling, no screwed up perspectives, no depth problems, etc. In a way, the art in The Unwritten reminds me of playing a game of H.O.R.S.E. against a guy who can really shoot free-throws. You’re out there doing all these funky and spectacular shots. You can only hit the crazy shot about 20% of the time, but when you do……nobody can EVER copy it. Then the other guy shoots and he’s like a 95% free throw shooter and he just grinds out H.O.R.S.E. on that simple – but effective – shot. That’s kinda what The Unwritten is like…..simple, effective, unwavering…..

Conclusion: Very nice. There are some nifty concepts in here and this story could have totally been done without the Fables interlopers.

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