I found the original draft of my Last Unicorn graphic novel review. This is completely different in tone and length from what was published in the San Francisco Book Review last January 4, 2012.
This review has comments on the ending. To read the hidden spoilers, highlight the invisible text with your mouse.
Peter S. Beagle is a familiar name to most fantasy readers since his introduction graced many a paperback copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Yet for me, growing up in the Philippines, that was the only contact I had with the name for years. Even back then I knew he must be an important writer, because unimportant writers don’t write introductions to other people’s books. But as to coming across one of his books, lack of access was an issue.
Some college friends were lucky enough to grow up with The Last Unicorn. In hindsight I envy them. I didn’t have any luck finding a VHS tape of the animated version, either, in that part of the world. After a few years of curiosity I simply gave up.
So getting a copy of the new graphic novel adaptation in the mail was nothing short of a dormant dream come true.
I was a little worried about being too old to like it. There are some texts that should be read at the appropriate age. I remembered feeling incredibly let down when I read C.S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew a couple of years ago. i I feel the need to apologize to all hardcore Narnia fans but I simply could not stand being talked down to by that insufferable man. It reeked of the overbearing Catholicism I couldn’t stand since elementary school.
Thankfully, The Last Unicorn is more accessible to my adult mind, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt there were some gaps in the narrative, probably caused by condensing a novel to its graphic novel form, but the basic story still worked well. The art by Renae de Liz and Ray Dillion was also apt and beautiful.
I was worried that after a few pages, The Last Unicorn would explode into full-on shoujo sparkles and glitter, but no, it didn’t happen. The unicorn’s transformation into a mere mortal was incredibly painful to read. I found it awful that she forgot about her quest at one point, but I suppose enchantments will do that, even to a strong character.
The Last Unicorn’s last plight ultimately reminds me of the subtle tragedies of childhood, and how a little experience can taint everything. I probably would have cried buckets if I read this as a child. That it can affect me, even now, is probably a mark of a brilliant piece of fantasy.