The collaboration between Carey and Gross on The Unwritten continues to provide top-notch entertainment, though this might have been the weakest of the issues to date. Carey and Gross take things pretty dark in this issue as the book opens with a grotesque parody of the Tommy Taylor books (imagine Saw crossed with Harry Potter) and follows with Pullman, sent after Tommy Taylor by a mysterious group, systematically murdering a number of people in horrible ways.
This issue is, just as much as the last one, about playing with the conventions of horror – Pullman says as much during a Scream-like monologue as he begins his wicked hunt – but it adds to it the touch of surreal wonder that Carey has become so adept at blending into his work. Tommy and the enigmatic Lizzie Hexam dig deeper as we continue to piece together the background of the story even while things fall apart all around the pair, all of which builds up to a relatively shocking final page.
Gross continues to do fantastic work setting up the atmosphere of the book and jumping gears from the macabre to the fantastic. Especially impressive are the scenes of Pullman’s hunt. Gross’s figures in action sequences sometimes seem a bit static, but there’s no illustration of that problem in this issue; every action segment is brief, creepy and to the point.
This is a book in which Carey seems driven to make sure we’re never comfortable as it hurtles at a break-neck pace through plot-twists and revelations that many books might’ve drawn on far longer. In the end, though the issue is creepy and creative, the plotting slowed down significantly, the danger felt hollow, and the whole thing felt far narrower in scope than any previous issue. Despite those problems, though, it remains an interesting chapter in a story you should all check out.
– Cal Cleary