Wed
Jan 30 2013 5:35pm

Fables Will Cross Over With The Unwritten And I Am Kind of Worried

Fables Will Cross Over With The Unwritten And I Am Kind of Worried?

Vertigo Comics revealed the cover to The Unwritten issue #50 today, revealing that the title will cross over with Bill Willingham’s Fables universe. (Or that, specifically, Tommy Taylor from The Unwritten and Bigby Wolf from Fables will interact.) While nothing has been revealed in regards to the story, the crossover makes a certain amount of metafictional sense, since both titles deal with how stories shape the fabric of reality.

Still, it feels a bit...cynical?

(Spoilers for The Unwritten ahead.)

This crossover isn’t the end of the world, or at least it isn’t in the one title where that hasn’t yet occurred, but it dilutes the narrative potency that The Unwritten has been struggling to maintain in the past year. The title started out as an entertainingly incisive look at Harry Potter, genre fiction, fandom, and how we adopt aspects of them into our own mannerisms. It evolved from there to examine how deeply stories and self-awareness are intertwined and has been slowly getting its readers to a point where they can’t see all that much of a difference between a story and the world around them.

It’s this aspect of Mike Carey’s The Unwritten that makes it the Best Comic Book You’re Not Even Reading. (Seriously, it’s like if you ignored Sandman when it was coming out in single issues.) But the story has been very wobbly as of late and is only now showing signs of regaining its momentum. One also gets the impression that The Unwritten is making tentative steps towards its endgame, so why, at this point, would you derail any of that for a crossover with another fictional universe?

It should be noted that any crossover of any sort actually makes sense within the story context of The Unwritten. Tommy Taylor has the ability to step through stories, and a litany of characters from a variety of stories often end up in worlds for which they were not written. (A recent issue found the Bennet women in a bleak wasteland, under the command of Baron von Munchausen, assisting Tommy with finding the gate to the underworld so he can speak with Hades.) So having a noted Fable like the Big Bad Wolf pop up during Tommy’s travels is actually not all that crazy a notion.

And it might be this is what issue #50 will entail: Tommy visiting a bunch of worlds, including Fabletown, while en route to his actual destination. It’s just being played up as a big deal because Bill Willingham’s Fables universe is precisely that for the Vertigo imprint: a big deal. I am probably overreacting. Good talk, me.

But it’s hard to shake the impression that this crossover was prompted by editorial at Vertigo, especially considering that The Unwritten is by far the lowest-selling title in their line-up, and would have been cancelled if the collected trades weren’t selling so well and Mike Carey wasn’t such a respected writer. (Deservedly so.) “Hey Mikey,” my mind totally conjectures an editor saying, “if you have an opening for a Fables character you just let me know. I’ll get Bill on the horn and we’ll work it out.” In my imagination this fake editor is also horking down antacid tablets and telling Iris that he’ll be late to the opera tonight. So.

A crossover between Fables and The Unwritten is easy, perhaps even necessary, but that doesn’t prove that it’s a good idea. Will I buy the issue? Absolutely. Will I enjoy it? Very likely. But I remain a little worried, nonetheless. The Unwritten is hinting towards a complex and emotional final act and I would hate it to see it flounder in the same way that Fables did after it concluded its overarching war story.

Fables + The Unwritten = a tiny bit of dread. How about you?


Chris Lough is the production manager of Tor.com and would burst into a puddle of letters if he could.

11 comments
Chris Long
1. radynski
Yeah, color me worried too. I feel like we're heading toward a climax and can't fathom how the Fables cross-over will do anything but derail it.
Emmet O'Brien
2. EmmetAOBrien
I understand that this has been in the works for quite some time, and Mike Carey has repeatedly well repaid my faith in his ability to put long-wavelength story together, so I see no reason to worry.
Michael M Jones
3. MichaelMJones
Frankly, if The Unwritten had to cross over with any series, Fables makes as much sense as anything, and much more than most. After all, one of the underlying ideas behind Fables is the relationship between original source and story... the Fables have a weird symbiotic relationship with the stories told about them, so that while they may have "come first" they live and die depending on the tales we tell. Hence, the best known like Goldilocks and Snow White and Jack are nigh-immortal and unkillable due to their popularity, while more obscure ones might die and never return. Sometimes the universe insists on replacements, like with the three bears or the three little pigs.

So in short, The Unwritten, which is about the power of story and the relatonship between teller and tale, is going to enjoy an in-house crossover with a series where fairy tales and myths enjoy a life both reliant upon and separate from the people who enjoy them.

I'm optimistic.
Amal El-Mohtar
4. amalmohtar
OH NO PLEASE NO WHY NO!

Augh. This feels completely gratuitous. It's unnecessary! I'd much, much prefer a Big Bad Wolf character as created by Carey within the context of The Unwritten's world. I'm only just at the beginning of that series, but I have long, long ago been soured on the interminable Fables, the way all the characters sound exactly the same, the way the women are eye candy to be condescended to by the men who know better, the way any treatment of race makes me want to fling it against the wall, and that Willingham's grasp of Middle-Eastern politics has all the subtlety of a brick made of bricks with which he insists on beating the hapless reader senseless.

Gosh, I guess I feel a bit strongly about this. Blargh.
olethros
5. olethros
Benefit of the doubt and all, but Fables jumped the shark about two months after Gepetto signed the treaty. Love the Unwritten, but this smacks of desperation.
olethros
6. cesarm
Hum, (yes, slightly worried - Great Fables Crossover, I'm looking at you - but) I'm actually excited about this. I like both Fables and Unwritten (Fables dropped the ball for a while after the Adversary, but I've been enjoying the last couple of arcs) and it seems the kind of crossover that makes sense for both sides (we'll have to wait and see, of course). Also, it will be restricted to the Unwritten and hopefully won't affect much the Fables arc.

IMHO, the biggest failure of The Greatest Fables Crossover (easily the lowest point of Fables for me) was that it was a Jack of Fables story that interrupted Fables just as it was trying to get its momentum back (yeah, this guy is totally evil and trying to kill all of the characters, you should really fear him, but look, there's this god-ish creatures you've probably never heard of that can destroy the world in an instant! Ok, thanks for the attention, now forget this ever happenned and get back to trying to care about this Mr. Dark guy...). If it had been contained to JoF, I wouldn't mind it (I didn't like JoF, but thought the Crossover story in the same level as the rest of that series). This way I just try my best to ignore the cliffhanger of Fables Vol.12 while reaching for Vol. 14 in my rereads.. If this is an Unwritten story featuring Fables characters, in the level of Unwritten, I'll probably be happy. Trusting Mike Carey for now.

That said, is there any prediction for when Unwritten will end? I was also getting a 'set-up for the endgame' vibe, but didn't find anything online.
Emmet O'Brien
7. EmmetAOBrien
cesarm@6; Mike said initially his plans for Unwritten were about 60 issues, sales permitting, but also noted that Lucifer grew a lot in the telling with incidentals growing into significant stories of their own and this seems to be a big part of his collaborative process with Peter Gross, so that might well happen with Unwritten also.
Michael M Jones
8. MichaelMJones
The Great Fables Crossover with the Literals and so forth was indeed something that didn't need to be shoehorned into the main title.

Jack of Fables was a very nice series with some serious misfires and truly bizarre creative turns, and it suffered a lot from some of its more gratuitous excesses.

I'm not saying that the idea of the Literals was a bad thing in its own right, but the way it was all handled, was. And the overlong storyline about Jack turning into a dragon while his son took over the series and had weird pulp pastiche adventures in other worlds... again, I'm not opposed to weird pulp pastiche adventures, but it didn't feel right for the series, and it all led to one of the most grossly wasteful endings for a series I've seen in a long time.

By comparison, at least this "Crossover" event is self-contained, taking place only in the Unwritten title, and presumably to be written fully by Mike Carey, with, I'd assume, input and approval by Willingham. So the Unwritten characters will stay in character, the themes will stay in theme, it shouldn't disrupt the Fables storylines and things will continue at whatever pace Carey has set. This is why I'm not worried. It's not one of those things where Tommy Taylor will show up in the Fables title and upset the apple cart, it's just part of his story arc.

So to recap: I doubt the story will have a huge impact on Fables, and Carey remains in control of the overall picture. So keep your fingers crossed?
olethros
9. Jaysun
What's with all the Fable hate? I think it's been strong. There has been a lot of development in the recent arcs, both of characters and of the universe as a whole. Everything abour Bellflower was truly fantastic.

Anyway, love both Fables and Unwritten, but dreading a crossover. Sure, they have similarities (both about stories and real life intersecting, power of myth etc) but their ethoses are so fundamentally different as to be incompatible. I find Fables eminently hopeful, wherase the Unwritten takes place in a very spiritually empty universe.
olethros
10. Ozaline
Well, if they're goal is to get Fables readers curious about checking out this Unwritten comic... They've already signed one up here.
olethros
11. Calista
I had never even heard of The Unwritten and I didn't realize it was a Fables crossover, I thought it was a new spin-off. I am so happy that they did this and that I discovered the Unwritten. Without this series I never would have noticed Unwritten, hidden beside the Walking Dead on the bottom shelf of of my local comic book store.

Also, I think, as a female, that Fables does quite a good job with it's women characters. They are leaders, spies, and business women. They are portrayed as smart and equal to Fable men. The fact that most of them are pretty is an artifact of the genre. And while Jack of Fables wasn't the best spin-off, the Cinderella stories and the new Fairest are pretty awesome.

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