The Unwritten 35.5 (May 2012)

Interesting, now Carey’s using the final .5 issue to set up something else forthcoming. He introduces the reader–for the first time–to a peon in the Cabal. The protagonist this issue, Danny, is a thoroughly underwhelming English major who ends up working in the big reading room for the Cabal. Lots of the big events in the series occur, giving the reader a sense of the time passing. There are a couple major bumps–it ties directly in to the story arc Carey finished the previous issue–and it’s a fine setup. It’s a little too much of a setup, but Carey does give the…

The Unwritten 35 (May 2012)

Maybe Tom seems like an action hero because of his outfit. He’s got suspenders for some reason, looking a little like Bullitt. It’s a Tom and Pullman issue. There’s some action, but there’s mostly just Pullman messing with Tom. Pullman–and Carey–promise some great revelation, but it’s unclear how much of it Pullman is just keeping to himself. The issue doesn’t exactly raise questions about Leviathan and the nature of the universe, but it doesn’t answer any either. There’s a big change–possibly two–for the series at the end (and maybe even some little ones throughout). Carey, Gross and Perker do such a good…

The Unwritten 34.5 (April 2012)

The issue reads a little like “Wilson Taylor: Year One.” Gross and Carey give him a decent origin story, set in the trenches of World War I. Carey concentrates on the soldiers’ experience, hitting all the effective standards, but making them tie into Unwritten. Actually, the questions he raises about stories, perceptions and reality during war are really interesting ones. He probably could get a decent limited series out of the concepts. Gary Erskine’s art is good. The battlefields are either obviously frightening or Erskine just infers it. There’s a lot of refocusing but Erskine makes Taylor distinct enough to stand out.…

The Unwritten 34 (April 2012)

Perker’s finishes over Gross lead to a somewhat different look for the book. Besides Tom looking more like an action movie star than a twenty-something, there are some weird panel transitions. It’s not bad art, it just doesn’t feel like Unwritten at times. It’s a combination of an action issue and a revelation one. The leader of the Cabal’s a good Bond villain who explains everything–multiple times–and there are a lot of explosions. Carey weaves in a surprise–cheating, since the characters know about it but the reader doesn’t, but it plays well. Tom’s maturing as a character, the exposition is good, Lizzie…

The Unwritten 33.5 (March 2012)

This issue’s exceedingly good. These .5 issues really do give Carey the ability to show off his talent; even though they relate to the main series, they don’t rely upon it fully. This issue’s about a soldier stationed at a great estate in the eighteenth century. The story eventually ties into the regular Unwritten world, but for a while it’s just straight historical fiction. Carey shows the soldiers’ lives, he establishes their personalities, and then he lets his protagonist loose. And the protagonist gets himself into trouble. The resolution to the issue, which features the big tie-in, is great. Peter Gross is…

The Unwritten 33 (March 2012)

Something’s off about the art this issue. I can’t tell if it’s Gross or Perker, but something’s definitely off. Tom looks like a bland underwear model. This issue features Tom’s assault on the Cabal. Lizzie and Richie both tell him he’s going too fast, which is also advice for Carey. There’s quick montage of Tom invading the headquarters–as the Cabal prepares their counterattack (based on Pullman’s obtuse advice)–but it’s rushed. No one seems like they’re enjoying themselves, particularly not Carey. The issue gets some mileage out of Tom beating up the bad guys with magic–which Carey’s been hinting at for thirty issues–but…

The Unwritten 32.5 (February 2012)

It’s more from the adventures of young Pullman. I was wondering if it would turn out to be him and it does. Not sure if it’s supposed to be a surprise–Dean Ormston, who “finishes” (which looks like all the art), doesn’t draw the traditional Pullman. He’s a lot dirtier here. Given the story takes place around 2500 BCE, the dirt is no surprise. Carey looses Pullman on poor Gilgamesh, who goes monster hunting on the villain’s suggestion. The issue makes certain aspects of the Unwritten mythology quite literal, which is neat. Ormston does a great job with monsters. Gilgamesh narrates the issue,…

The Unwritten 32 (February 2012)

I’m perplexed. Pullman does something bad, but I can’t figure out what he’s done or why it will put Tommy and the gang in danger. What’s incredibly frustrating is Carey spends about half the issue with Pullman talking about what he’s going to do; I thought I’d understand it once he got to it… but no. Otherwise, it’s a very solid bridging issue. Carey resolves the previous cliffhanger–not in a happy way, either–and sets up for the next challenge. Lizzie and Richie spend most of the issue trying to figure out how to survive without magic, which raises some interesting questions about…

The Unwritten 31.5 (January 2012)

Carey–with plotting assistance from Gross–internally spins off Unwritten with these .5s. I’m guessing, anyway; this one is my first .5. Carey uses Wilson Taylor’s journals investigating the Cabal’s history. Michael Kaluta handles the art on the first story, regarding Pullman silencing some monks in ancient China. It’s a decent story with a good twist at the end, but it lacks any wow factor. The second story, however, has the wow. Rick Geary perfectly illustrates the tale of a newspaper cartoonist who has to face the realities of being a storyteller. It’s quietly frightening, especially the postscript. Carey again utilizes a twist. It’s…

The Unwritten 31 (January 2012)

Frankenstein’s Monster does join the gang, but he doesn’t really do anything. He’s muscle, without a lot of dialogue; it’s too bad. This issue features Tom wielding the magic, Lizzie and Richie freaking out and a lot of action. Carey and Gross and M.K. Perker (who finishes) do a great job with the changing genres. Well, not so much genres. It’s always action-oriented, but there are some calm periods with the characters regrouping. But, as an action issue, not a lot really happens. Lizzie argues with Tom about him not knowing enough about his magic, she tells Richie about it, she turns…

The Unwritten 30 (December 2011)

Carey’s resolution is unexpected. It’s sort of celebratory and life affirming (and shows he and Gross could easily spin-off titles from Unwritten) but it also has the series’s first big fight scene in a while. And it’s a comic book fight scene. While all the detours into literature (Dickens, Moby-Dick), one doesn’t often think of Unwritten as being cousin to capes and tights comics. Carey apparently felt the need to remind everyone this issue and it’s cool to see a reluctant wizard battle a Golden Age hero. It’s Marvel-style, of course, so the two heroes team up afterwards. Except it’s not to…

The Unwritten 29 (November 2011)

Carey sort of sidesteps the maximum tragedy to keep the narrative more interesting. It requires him to bring in a new character and pretend he’s been there for an issue… it’s an unfortunate oversight in an issue already riddled with problems. It’s still a good issue, of course. But the scenes are unbelievably repetitive. Tom’s dad and his girlfriend have the same conversation two or three times. Wilson’s big solution to the problem shows he doesn’t plan ahead well enough. Carey also loses all sense of time. The flashbacks might take place over a month or three days. Carey is able to…

The Unwritten 28 (October 2011)

Not a happy issue. Not one bit. Carey is forecasting an inevitable, devastating turn of events in his flashbacks. He’s really turning the screws too, as Tom’s dad meets a woman and, in an extreme Romeo and Juliet fashion, is going to have to kill her. Besides the bad guys killing all the people Tom knows, which is often done without any personal touches to the scenes, it’s all this romance (set in the Depression). The art, from Gross and Locke, is fantastic. It exudes tragedy, keeping the inevitable event in the forefront of the reading experience. There’s also some stuff with…

The Unwritten 27 (September 2011)

Carey packs this issue. Maybe not with content–there’s a lot of conversation, then some extraneous stuff in a flashback (Vince Locke nicely inks Gross for those pages)–but with atmosphere. This kind of issue endears a series to the reader and Carey’s able to do it without forcing. The issue also opens with a muted “Wire” reference, so it’s impossible not to love it. For the majority of the issue, things are quiet. Carey’s resolution to the previous issue’s cliffhanger is to focus on a different event (smaller to the character, bigger to the world) and its repercussions. The actual cliffhanger gets a…

The Unwritten 26 (August 2011)

Carey manages to be predictable and not. This issue closes off a two-parter and opens up something else… it’s not clear what yet, but definitely something. There’s a lot more action than I expect from Unwritten, maybe because it’s the regular action–guns, guys in body armor and ski masks. Gross handles it all fine. There’s no big surprise moment, no big revelation. There are hints at future revelations and some little surprises, but Carey is certainly taking his time. He does resolve something from the previous issue, which surprised me a little. I thought he would have drug out the explanation a…

The Unwritten 25 (July 2011)

Creepy business abound this issue. Well, not really. It’s implied at the end. Along with some more backstory into Tommy’s childhood, which Mike Carey has a lot of fun teasing. The issue opens with Lizzie and Savoy on a what appears to be a comical mission (and stays one until the end) before Tommy appears. Carey does a talking heads recap–successfully catching up both the reader and the characters–and Peter Gross excels at the talking heads. I forgot how good Gross does with the regular stuff. Unwritten has a lot of fantastical visual elements (not this issue but in general) and Gross…

The Unwritten 24 (June 2011)

Carey continues Pauly the foulmouthed bunny rabbit’s story, bringing him behind the scenes of fiction. Children’s fiction specifically. Carey visualizes it as an endless staircase with small doors into stories. Pauly escapes from the cellar through one of those doors. It’s an interesting approach–all of the cast is, once again, pretty dumb (they’re cute little story-time animals after all) and Pauly quickly manipulates them all. Except the weasels. Once gets the feeling the weasels know what’s going on. Carey has a lot of Wind in the Willows references this issue… weasels included. As usual with these done-in-ones, Carey could probably do a…

The Unwritten 23 (May 2011)

Carey brings the arc into port—sorry, couldn’t resist—and ends on a profound moment. Well, sort of. Tom learns the source of his power and, since it makes so much sense, it’s not surprising. Carey and Gross don’t go crazy visualizing it, showing admirable restraint. The real thing comes on the final page though, when it’s a flashback to Wilson explaining how fiction works to a young Tom. That moment, combined with the previous revelation, brings a lot more into question. Some of these questions are ones Moore raised with Promethea. He never could make the answers wholly satisfying, because the questions are…

The Unwritten 22 (April 2011)

It’s sort of an action issue. I think it’s got to be the fastest read so far in Unwritten’s issues, maybe because Carey doesn’t do much with any of the subplots. Tom calls the Monster (the Frankenstein Monster), who’s sort of his guide when he needs one, and figures a way out of the mess he made of Moby-Dick. He moves through a couple more stories before he gets the this issue’s soft cliffhanger, which is an amusing one. Carey’s still moving through unfamiliar territory, but he’s starting to use more familiar faces. Gross and Locke give the book a different feel…

The Unwritten 21 (March 2011)

Carey more than makes up for the previous issue’s weak cliffhanger with this one’s sublime one. The issue, with Tom trying to deal with being stuck in Moby-Dick while Lizzie breaks some bad news to him and he can’t seem to figure out what his father’s doing there. Meanwhile, Lizzie and Savoy meet up with the villain doll lady, who’s like a Ennis villain in a Carey book. If the issue has any problems, it’s with the disconnect between the two periods. The Moby-Dick sequences are sort of transcendent, while the “reality” stuff is so ordinary. It doesn’t matter if Savoy’s a…

The Unwritten 20 (February 2011)

I think Carey just had his first misstep. It might not work out as a misstep… but he ends this issue like it’s “Quantum Leap” or something. It’s a terrible, terrible cliffhanger. The rest of the issue is pretty strong too. It opens with Tom and Lizzie, with Tom blathering on romantically and Lizzie sort of ignoring him. The scene doesn’t establish their new relationship, but it’s got a lot of charm. Gross has started drawing Tom a little differently lately; he’s a lot more mature. Then Tom ends up in Moby-Dick, while Savoy and Lizzie go looking for him. And Savoy…

The Unwritten 19 (January 2011)

There’s a thread I thought Carey had resolved… the whole Savoy being a vampire being. Looks like I was wrong. I guess I just assumed Wilson Taylor knew stuff. That assumption is, apparently, quite wrong. This issue—kicking off the Melville arc—introduces a new villain. Or a possible new villain; she’s a doll maker and she’s been around a while. There’s not much to her yet, but in her company, Pullman almost becomes likable. He’s just gotten to be familiar at this point. It turns hurt the last big villain turned out to be real annoying and Pullman didn’t like him, which makes…

The Unwritten 18 (December 2010)

No way, Carey answers some questions. Without raising new ones. Well, okay, I guess he sort of hints at some new ones—we get to see the council of evil anti-readers for the first time. They look like Fox News personalities, but they’re meeting in a cave and have secret evil rituals. Okay, I guess I’m not sure it’s unlike Fox News internal business practices. But the real questions answered have more to do with Tom. Carey positions him to take the active role in the book—which is only fair, since it’s his book and all… though it signals a big change for…

The Unwritten 17 (November 2010)

The playful, “Choose Your Own Adventure,” aspect to this issue is stunning. It’s not the point of the comic—in fact, in a stream of consciousness sort of way, reading it straight through makes more sense (otherwise, why would Carey have ended the issue on the final pages)—but it’s a stunning device. This issue we get Lizzie’s backstory. We do not get, however, any answers to the present questions raised and Carey raises even more questions about Lizzie than he answers. So the ride is what’s important and it’s a wonderful ride. It makes Wilson a real character and makes Lizzie a subject.…

The Unwritten 16 (October 2010)

So is Wilson’s editor in with Wilson or in with the bad guys? The issue has a soft cliffhanger for Lizzie—who somehow got to go home, but lost it too (I wonder if Carey’s seen Somewhere in Time because he really pulls a penny out of the pocket in terms of an easy fix)—but nothing regarding Tommy and Savoy and the book itself. This issue of Unwritten made me realize Carey’s plans are finite. The series is not intended to go on forever, which is probably better—not just in realistic publishing terms, but also so Carey doesn’t get to a point where…

The Unwritten 15 (September 2010)

Wilson Taylor makes his first appearance in Unwritten’s present action this issue; it’s Carey’s biggest surprise so far. Not because his appearance is so extraordinary, but just the opposite. He shows up like he’s been in the cast the entire time. While the Pullman subplot develops, the issue brings Tom back to his literary geographer status. He and Savoy spend the issue on a slight quest to meet up with Wilson—I never expected the old boy to actually show up at the end of it, though. Meanwhile, Carey has Lizzie still back home, though she does bring some of her new life…

The Unwritten 14 (August 2010)

Here Carey has another bridging issue. He gets in some great moments, but he’s mostly just building to the next big incident. He uses this pacing a lot in Unwritten, at least in the two previous arcs, and it always works out very well. But this issue also has another facet and it’s where Carey distinguishes the series again. Lizzie freaks out this issue about the possibility of not being a fictive character. Carey resolves it, or seems to, at the end of the issue, but the beauty is seeing how scared she gets over it, how far she’s willing to go…

The Unwritten 13 (July 2010)

Well, while I don’t known exactly what I expected from this issue of Unwritten, I will say I never expected the cliffhanger Carey finishes with. In most ways, the issue is innocuous. There’s the new Tommy Taylor book—a fake—and there’s an event, but that event isn’t happening this issue. There’s some more information about Lizzie, there’s Tom getting hammered with Frankenstein’s Monster… but it’s not a particularly active issue. Then Carey comes up with a couple big reveals for the end, leading up to the cliffhanger. The second reveal is tied directly to that cliffhanger. It’s an excellent issue. The way Carey’s…

The Unwritten 12 (June 2010)

Reading the latest side-story issue of Unwritten, all I could think about was how Carey and Gross should never stop the series, they should also spin out some of these side-stories. I guess they call these side-stories one-shots. Anyway. This one, “Willowbank Tales,” has more than enough promise to hold at least three issues. It’s about a Wind in the Willows type place—albeit with less literary import—where some guy who wrong Wilson Taylor finds himself exiled. He’s the bunny rabbit and he’s got a foul mouth and plans for committing mass murder if need be to escape. The issue manages to be…

The Unwritten 11 (May 2010)

A small complaint. This issue features Tommy—sorry, Tom—having a big Jedi moment. Only no one thinks he’s a good enough Jedi to do it yet. But he can still do it… and Carey doesn’t even hint at why he can do it. It plays out fine because it’s a big set piece but it’s a narrative pothole. It suggests Tom’s “purpose” might be to quest about, correcting literary wrongs… to what end, though. Carey doesn’t touch on that bit either, or even recognize it in the story. Otherwise, it’s a great issue. Lizzie knocks Goebbels’s block off, which is fun to see…