The Unwritten: Leviathan and On to Genesis
The Unwritten, I think, has the potential to dethrone Fables as my current favorite ongoing comic series. I mean, I like Fables — if you’ve been paying attention to my history, this is abundantly clear — but I also see that it has some failings. It makes me wonder if the series has gone as far as it can, but I’ve thought that before, and seen the writer pull off something that’s surprising and poignant. Now, though, it seems like stories are being rehashed and retread, and The Unwritten is still fresh enough to see a natural progression of the story. Plus, the overarching mystery of who — or what — Tom Taylor really is carries the series a bit better than the arcs that makes up Fables. At the very least, The Unwritten has a better sustained storyarc that carries it better, and makes it feel a bit more consistent. The creators are revealing the hints in a piecemeal fashion, but in such a way that the mini storyarcs feed into that reveal. It never feels forced, or frustrating.
I’m glad I got to read these two volumes back-to-back, as they both seem to follow a similar theme, of stories gaining power from the people who read them. Specifically, the more people read and believe in a certain story, the more power it grants the people and characters of that story, and the more real that story becomes. It’s a little reminiscent of “Vanni Fucci Is Alive and Well and Living in Hell” by Dan Simmons, and even Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, especially with all the literary connections. By itself, Leviathan is a little slow but meaningful (sort of like those alternating Fables collections that I’ve mentioned), but together the two collections make for a very compelling, interesting read.
So, is it fair to rate or review Fables based on a new series that follows a similar theme? Probably not. But at the same time, would The Unwritten have been written without something like Fables preceding it? Again, probably not. So much of the stories we read depend heavily on what came before them (Fables owes a great deal to The Sandman, for instance), and interestingly enough, that’s another theme that you’ll find repeated in all three of those series. So maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on Fables, after all.