The Unwritten 14 (August 2010)

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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 to find out the truth. While Carey’s shown fictive characters who are somewhat shady about understanding their place in the “real world,” the vampire bad guy for example, Lizzie’s panic is a first in Unwritten. It’s lovely stuff.

Otherwise, the issue mostly features some well-written water treading.

CREDITS

Dead Man’s Knock – Atrocities; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Peter Gross; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterer, Todd Klein; editor, Pornsak Pichetshote; publisher, Vertigo.

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The Unwritten 13 (July 2010)

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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 able to keep it fresh—not just as the next development in the overall narrative, but also in terms of the twenty-two pages of story— shows why Unwritten is such a great series.

I’m now to the point I have no idea what to expect.

CREDITS

Dead Man’s Knock – Monsters; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Peter Gross; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterer, Todd Klein; editor, Pornsak Pichetshote; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 18 (September 1975)

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In what’s easily David Michelinie’s best-written Swamp Thing issue, the gang (consisting of Swamp Thing, Bolt, Matt and Abby) run into a strange little town filled with insane old people. There’s some deception at first, but it’s really an occult thing—the old people want to capture young people and steal their souls to become young again. It feels like a pretty okay episode of “The Twilight Zone.” Well, except for Swamp Thing.

Michelinie still writes Swamp Thing like a bit of a moron and Redondo has lost the enthusiasm to illustrate him well. The people are fine, Swamp Thing is not. Redondo has a particularly bad fight scene where Swamp Thing changes in size and proportion throughout.

Also odd is Michelinie tying Abby to Swamp Thing telepathically here.

No explanations yet, but Cable doesn’t like it.

Minor weaknesses aside, it’s not terrible. Michelinie is starting to near competence.

CREDITS

Village of the Doomed; writer, David Michelinie; artist, Nestor Redondo; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 17 (July-August 1975)

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The Michelinie curse continues.

It turns out Swamp Thing didn’t just crash land on any Caribbean island last issue, but the one where evil mastermind Nathan Ellery has his secret base. Their new mission—make all the leaders of the world brain dead, so Ellery can take over….

But Michelinie doesn’t stop there. Abby and Matt captured too. Abby’s developing psychic powers, this issue hints, which might explain why she confronts Ellery about his fall off the roof ten issues before. She didn’t actually witness that event, but it’s okay… Batman was there and he doesn’t make the flashback panels.

Michelinie tries to make the series more serious, having Swamp Thing murder Ellery in cold blood. Michelinie’s writing ruins the scene.

Redondo’s designs on all Ellery’s robots are pretty good. The dogs are cool looking.

In terms of quality, the series no longer resembles the one Wein and Wrightson created.

CREDITS

The Destiny Machine; writer, David Michelinie; artist, Nestor Redondo; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 16 (May-June 1976)

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Some of this issue’s terrible decisions must be editorially mandated and not all Michelinie’s fault. I’m referring specifically to Conclave head honcho Nathan Ellery coming back from the dead at the end. He fell off a roof a while ago and Batman was going to investigate. Apparently, Batman got busy.

Anyway, other stupid parts is the handling of Matt and Abby, who Michelinie reduce to a cute, dimwitted couple, as well as Swamp Thing getting a couple people killed.

The best part is how indifferent Swamp Thing is in his part in it. This girl saves him and Swamp Thing rewards her by leaving her with some thugs. He walks off without realizing she isn’t following him and she’s executed.

This event occurs in the issue where Swamp Thing thinks to himself how much he cares about everyone.

Michelinie’s writing is atrocious. Even Redondo isn’t trying hard illustrating this tripe.

CREDITS

Night of the Warring Dead; writer, David Michelinie; artist, Nestor Redondo; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 15 (March-April 1975)

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Oddly, as Michelinie moves away from the traditional Swamp Thing standards, such as Swamp Thing having a lot of thoughts, he does better. The issue isn’t exactly good, it’s just not as bad as the previous one. It’s bad, but it doesn’t fail at being a Len Wein Swamp Thing.

Michelinie has some really goofy stuff this issue—like Abby acting like she knew Alec Holland. There’s a big continuity snafu and one wonders if the editor was paying any attention when it came to inferred situations. Other goofiness has Abby being a mystic, Matt being able to sway a crazy man’s mind with his logic. The comic’s mildly atheistic (or strongly deist), which is pretty cool for a seventies book.

I think my favorite part might be when Michelinie needlessly refers to Bolt, who’s barely a character anymore, as a “black man” in narration. It’s an eye-roll moment.

CREDITS

The Soul-Spell of Father Bliss; writer, David Michelinie; artist, Nestor Redondo; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 14 (January-February 1975)

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And now Wein has left too, leaving David Michelinie to clean up the mess.

The mess in question is Wein’s swamp monsters. It turns out they aren’t because of Alec Holland’s serum, rather because of a strange batch of toxic waste dumped in the swamp, which somehow interacted with the Holland formula.

While Redondo’s art just keeps getter better, the writing takes a hit. Even when Wein was at his most talky, nothing compares to Michelinie’s endless narration. He also doesn’t bring much intelligence to Swamp Thing’s thoughts—he doesn’t seem like a brilliant scientist, more like an average joe. Though I guess it’s funny to see Swamp Thing kick somebody in a fight.

Because the story’s about the selfless sacrifice of maligned children, the issue turns out to be somewhat affecting. But Swampy doesn’t come off well. He comes off a little like a selfish jerk.

Still, nice art.

CREDITS

The Tomorrow Children; writer, David Michelinie; artist, Nestor Redondo; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 13 (November-December 1974)

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Even though the issue ends with a teaser of the next one, it reads a little like Wein was preparing for it to be Swamp Thing’s finale. Swamp Thing reveals his identity to Matt Cable and then, instead of setting off with Matt to adventure, heads back to the swamp. It takes Swamp Thing a night to walk from Washington D.C. to Louisiana. Wein’s not so great at geography apparently.

This issue features Redondo’s best work so far. Besides integrating horrific into his tragic renderings of Swamp Thing, he also gets to do a lot of regular action. Matt and Abby put on SHIELD uniforms to break Swamp Thing out, for example.

Wein starts off stronger than he finishes, opening with Swamp Thing discovering his serum, in the swamp water, has been mutating the wildlife. It’s interesting, but Wein moves on immediately.

It’s goofy and pointless, but never too bad.

CREDITS

The Leviathan Conspiracy; writer, Len Wein; artist, Nestor Redondo; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

The Unwritten 12 (June 2010)

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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 funny and touching. Gross, with inker Kurt Higgins, create a precious cast of animals; it’s hard to dislike them, even if they are brainless.

It also gives Carey a chance to riff about the nature of children’s literature for a couple pages.

CREDITS

Eliza Mae Hertford’s Willowbank Tales; writer, Mike Carey; artists, Peter Gross and Kurt Higgins; colorist, Zelda Devon; letterer, Todd Klein; editor, Pornsak Pichetshote; publisher, Vertigo.

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