The Last Unicorn
Many of us have stories that we read as children which stick with us many years later. For some people, that’s the Hobbit, for others it’s Alice in Wonderland. For many though, it’s the Last Unicorn. I’m honestly not sure how a kid as in love with fantasy, magic and unicorns like I was could have missed one but somehow I did. So when I needed to pick a “classic children’t book you’ve never read” for a reading challenge, I decided it was high time that I read this classic. Since I’m finnicky about graphic novel adaptations, I read the novel by Peter S. Beagle first before I picked up the adaptation published by IDW. The story was adapted into six issues by Peter B. Gillis with art by Renae De Liz and her husband Ray Dillon (the same creative pair responsible for The Legend of Wonder Woman, which I talked about in a previous Wonder Woman review).
The Last Unicorn begins with, of course, the very last unicorn. Spending her days happily in her forest, she happens to overhear from some passing hunters that there are no other unicorns anymore and men have mostly forgotten they ever existed. Thus begins the unicorn’s quest to find the rest of her kind, a quest that will lead her to a barren kingdom where the Red Bull has chased all other unicorns. Along the way, the unicorn is joined by a few companions. But will they be able to find the other unicorns or will the last unicorn be caught by the Red Bull and his master like all the rest?
When I read the original novel veresion of The Last Unicorn, I was taken by not only the magic of Beagle’s storytelling about this unicorn’s quest but also the clever ways that it upended traditional fantasy storytelling. The graphic novel adaptation entirely captures the magic but doesn’t quite get the cleverness of it. But that’s probably inevitable given the constraints of the format. Overall, the adpatation does an excellent job of transferring the written text to the graphic format without getting too wordy or losing too much.
Above all, it’s fantastically beautiful. I really enjoyed the combination of the talents of De Liz and Dillon in their Wonder Woman series and it’s even better here. Dillon’s coloring in particular is brilliant. He uses excellent contrast to make the scenes intensely vivid and magical.
As soon as I read it, I knew that The Last Unicorn was a story that would stick with me for years to come, much as the Hobbit did when I was a kid. It’s a lovely story of quests and magic and unicorns that has more harsh truths and humor than you might expect. The graphic novel adaptation by Gillis, De Liz and Dillon does an admirable job of re-creating that magic, particularly with the artwork. If you’re a fan of The Last Unicorn or fantasy in general, I’d highly recommend it!