Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Despite not having read Fables for several years, I didn't have any problem following the basics of this crossover. But it still didn't exactly work. I have no idea why the antagonist of the series, Dark, is such a world-destroying badass, at the beginning or the end of the arc. I don't much care about any of the characters other than our Unwritten regulars, who only actually appear in the first and last issues. Well, technically only Tom Taylor appears. I think. Or maybe not.
There are still many fine moments herein, including some truly awful stuff involving a witch's last ditch gambit to save all of existence (Dark's arrival makes for strange bedfellows), and a very moving final sequence that sets up The Unwritten: Apocalypse with, well, a preliminary apocalypse. Still, this arc remains something of an oddity, the least satisfying storyline from The Unwritten's excellent run. Lightly recommended.
Life in the superpower-filled universe of Astro City is a fascinating affair, both metatextual (Busiek creates analogs for virtually every comic-book character you can think of) and emotionally satisfying (the analogs rapidly become their own characters, while the lives of what would be minor characters in a typical superhero book are richly explored).
For instance, the first few issues deal with the exciting adventures of someone who staffs the Hot-line for this Earth's version of the Justice League or the Avengers. Busiek gets to world-build here in what seems to be a perfectly reasonable fashion (I mean, a hotline's going to need staff, isn't it?) while offering a groundlevel view of life on a world packed with supernatural superscientific shenanigans.
Brent Anderson's interior art, superheroic without being super-exaggerated, is as good as ever, which is to say absolutely perfect for the writing of Busiek. There's a nice balance of the mundane and the Super-loopy throughout Anderson's Astro City work.
We also get a look at what people with superpowers who don't want to either fight crime or commit crime do with their lives (find jobs that can use their specialized skills), and look in on a retired super-speedster. Meanwhile, the Over-Arc involving mysterious observer The Broken Man offers glimpses of some world-shattering Crisis to come. Recommended.