Sunday, June 12, 2011

2011 Hugo Nominees: Graphic - Fables: Witches, Bill Willingham/Mark Buckingham; The Unwritten, Volume 2: Inside Man, Mike Carey/Peter Gross (Vertigo)

Unwritten is the one nominee in this category that I was really rooting to get nominated, though I worry that now that nominators have noticed it, it will just become another perennial. Mike Carey’s Vertigo (an imprint of the more famous DC Comics) series has a great hook: A man named William Taylor wrote a series of very successful Harry Potter-like novels starring a fictional version of his real-life son Tommy Taylor. William disappears before the last novel is published, and Tommy is left with the burden of having an obsessed fanbase. Then, one day, elements from the novels begin to interrupt his life as he discovers that magic is real. By this volume (slight **spoilers** here) we know that the real magic is in words and stories, and that there is a conspiracy that has shaped human history through managing narratives, both big and small. William was a part of this conspiracy, and he’s using Tommy as a weapon to unravel it. Most of this volume, “Inside Man,” involves Tommy escaping from prison following the events of the previous volume. A real high point is a chapter about Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, who appreciated as much as anyone the magic of controlling narratives. I think this is the weakest of the three volumes released so far (volume three has a “choose your own adventure” issue!), but it’s still a very strong series. Peter Gross’s art is quite good.

Grade: B+

Speaking of Verigo and perennial nominees. Fables again! This is one of the three titles to be nominated for this award all three years of its existence. It is widely beloved though, and probably the strongest of the three.

Everything I said for last year's volume still pertains to this one. The book is lacking a little direction due to the resolution of it's overall story arc around issue 75, but the character work and magical world-building remain strong. Buckingham's a great artist. All that said, I don't find this book as unmissable as most comics aficianados seem to.

I will say I liked this one better than last year's though. We're a bit more focused on a few magic-oriented plotlines, though there are plenty of sub-plots running in the background...maybe a few too many. What really made this volume for me though was the character of Bufkin, a bibliophile flying monkey who has to fight Russian folklore's Baba Yaga mostly with his wits. He's great fun.

Grade: B

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed witches, but it wasn't the strongest book from fables. They really haven't started moving with this new Mr. Dark yet and it is obvious tha they are just setting up the pieces. it would be nice if it were not obvious.