One of my favourite things in this postmodern pop culture world of ours is when someone of great imagination takes a well-known and well-loved story and inverts and subverts it to an entirely new end.
Apart from the fact that it’s a cleverly creative thing to do, it offers a whole new way of looking at the story from which it is drawn which can be a very good thing when a story has become so much a part of the collective consciousness.
Take Noah’s Ark for one.
Many of us will be familiar with the epic Biblical tale of the earth, wicked and mired in sin so we are told, being subsumed by a worldwide flood which kills off everyone and everything save for God’s own anointed Noah, his family and two of every animal, bird and all manner of living thing.
It’s a grandly romantic tale, with some fairly dark vengeful edges to it which has been retold over and over down the millenia.
Now writer Cullen Bunn and illustrator Juan Doe have combined to tell the story of Shrae, an ex-sorcerer who takes up the dark arts again when he’s offered salvation by sinister forces if he will create an anti-ark of ghoulish supernatural creatures such as vampires, manticores, goblins, werewolves, giants, dragons, ghouls, naga, and yes, even unicorns, who are none too happy about being on what they consider to be the wrong ark.
No doubt there will be those who see this as some kind of sacrilege, and even Cullen admits he channelled the “‘sick and twisted’ elements of my personality” into writing the story, but it’s an audacious, clever way of putting a whole new slant on a story which many scientists believe was inspired by an ancient catastrophic movement of water between the Mediterranean and Black Seas 9400 years ago, but it looks a very cool well-executed idea, steeped in fantasy and a recognition that the world is far more complex than simple morality tales of old.
Just don’t ask your favourite unicorn what they think because odds are they won’t like it. The rest of us? There’s a very good chance we’ll thoroughly enjoy this dark mirror take on a tale almost as old as time.
You can read an interview with Cullen Bunn at Newsarama.