Review: The Unwritten #20

When I initially reviewed The Unwritten #1, I said that “Carey and Gross bring a compelling first issue to a series with a great deal of promise,” and then questioned whether the series could live up to such a fantastic opener.  Twenty issues in, I think it’s safe to say that the promise has been fulfilled and then some; in fact, it’s probably fair to say that The Unwritten has spent the last two years becoming not just the best Vertigo comic going on today and not just the best fantasy comic on the shelves, but consistently one of the best comics  currently being published, period.

The Unwritten #20 is part two of the “Leviathan” arc.  After 18 issues of Tommy and Co. being more passive observers to the unfolding story and victims to an enemy they could neither fight nor comprehend, the previous arc found Tommy coming into his own.  Just when the passivity of the book’s heroes begins to grate, Carey and Gross change things up.  “Leviathan” finds Tommy, Lizzie and Peter traveling to Connecticut in search of the source of Wilson Taylor’s mysterious power.  There, Tommy finds himself joining Captain Ahab’s crew as he falls inside the book Moby Dick while his companions try to track him down and his enemies gather and approach.

“Leviathan” is a fun, quirky adventure into literary history, like many of the stories in The Unwritten, but it’s also more than that: “Leviathan” features an ever-shifting status quo and highlights some important changes in the group dynamics of our heroes.  Carey and Gross continue to tease a fascinating master plot, but thankfully, the master plot is never the point.  The Unwritten #20 is tightly scripted with fantastic art, and it makes me want the next issue to come quickly for all the right reasons – not because I can’t enjoy or understand this one without it, but because this issue, like each one before, makes me thrilled to see more.  Take note, comic creators: The Unwritten provides a near-flawless example of monthly comics done right.

Grade: A-

Cal Cleary


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