Spoiler Warning right off the bat
This felt lethargic, like it barely had the energy to get to its last panel, and even that was sort of an abrupt and rhythmically poor conclusion.
PROBABLY CONTAINS SPOILERS
Though I always enjoyed Bill Willingham’s surprise smash-hit Fables (by far Vertigo’s most financially successful property in many, many years), I never really looked forward to it. For me, the series peaked with its fourth trade, “March of the Wooden Soldiers“, which was the perfect combination of soapy plotting and military fantasy for which the series had always (in my opinion) been aiming. It remained solid for years after that, but with so many excellent books coming out, and such an enormous back-catalog to catch up on, I fell behind. But I always noticed its spin-offs, from the winning Cinderella books to the occasionally enjoyable Jack of Fables, and I was interested when I saw the new spin-0ff, Fairest, on the shelves. With a gorgeous Adam Hughes cover, pencils by the immensely respected Phil Jimenez, not to mention Willingham writing in his element, it seemed like a must-read.
A few months back, I reviewed another anthology of short stories by Vertigo: Strange Adventures. And while I found the book to be something of a failure, it had nothing to do with the format, but with the stories. Only Peter Milligan and Sylvain Savoia’s “Partners” was a truly great short story, while most other creators seemed to be grappling with some difficulty in telling a coherent story using such a small page count. I’m happy to say, The Unexpected #1 has solved that problem thoroughly, introducing a series of fun, memorable short stories from a variety of star creators.
The Unwritten #5, “How the Whale Became”
Mike Carey broke in a big way with Lucifer, his spin-off from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman – a spin-off that managed to build into one of the most satisfying fantasies in the medium, turning an already well-drawn character into one of comics’ best. Afterwards, he crafted and contributed to a few fascinating Vertigo books – including one that I firmly believe deserves more discussion, Crossing Midnight – and some noble failures, but none took off the way Lucifer had… and he was busy becoming one of Marvel’s superstars, as well as a successful novelist. His big creator-owned-comics success story would have to wait.
I read 24 comics in May, and these were the best.