Despite my general preference of buying Vertigo books in trade rather than floppy, The Unwritten #1 seduced me with its tantalizingly low-cut… uh… price. The first issue in hand, I found myself getting rather excited about the next one, and then all the subsequent ones, however many that may be, and with that excitement came the resolve to pick up this particular Vertigo book on a monthly basis.
Once again, Carey opens with a couple illustrated pages from the Tommy Taylor books, this particular set illustrating a darkness that Harry Potter lacked as it built up Taylor’s world. From there, we pick up right where the last issue left off. After Tommy’s faux-miraculous escape (with the help of the mysterious Lizzie Hexam), Tommy is leaving the hospital in fine shape. All around him, the theories grow – can the angry Tom Taylor really be fictional childhood icon Tommy all grown up and somehow brought to the real world? All signs – however fake some may be – point to yes, and the world is awash with curiosity. Carey and Gross do an excellent job at this, tossing in the occasional page of news site headlines, fan-sites, and message board exchanges.
Meanwhile, there’s a mysterious group of people pursuing Tommy Taylor with malevolent intent, people with strange abilities involving words. Despite all the mysteriousness that abounds in the book, however, the plot seems to be moving at a brisk clip. This seems to be some of Carey’s most focused work yet, with all the fantastic design and tone of his excellent Lucifer but with little evidence of its occasionally meandering plotting.
Similarly improved is Peter Gross, who does a fine job blending some of the more fantastic elements – and a flat-out excellent job on the bizarre segments taken from the Tommy Taylor books – with distinctive character designs and backgrounds. Carey and Gross appear to be working quite well together on the book.
In fact, there are very few aspects of the book that aren’t working well right now, if any. A book that tells us so little at the outset runs the risk of falling into the same storytelling issues that plagues things like LOST, but the book shows none of them. Instead, it suggests an excellent young suggestion to the already immensely respected library of Vertigo titles.
- Cal J Cleary