by Mike Carey (writer), Peter Gross (art), Chris Chuckry & Jeanne McGee (colors), and Todd Klein (letters)

The Story: Tom Taylor begins his search for the truth, visiting his Dad’s lover and heading to Switzerland.

What’s Good: Around five pages in, I said to myself out loud, “goddamn, this comic is so good.”  It was a muttered statement and it wasn’t really brought on by any particularly shocking moment, but more of my reaction to this comic as a whole.  It really is a great book and is probably the smartest thing sitting on your comic shop’s new release racks.

In this issue, Carey continues to flex his literary knowledge, but does so in a manner that manages to amuse rather than intimidate (Alan Moore, I’m looking at you).  Tommy’s random facts regarding literary geography and history are still good fun, and certainly educational.

Perhaps more importantly, the Unwritten once again effectively demonstrates its postmodern, deconstructionist stance.  There is an absolutely fascinating scene regarding the nature of “truth” that simply MUST be read.  It’s an incredibly cool sequence backed up by critical ideas that effectively blur the line between the real world England of Tom Taylor and the magical fantasy dungeons of the Tommy Taylor subtext.  Much as Tom/Tommy are interrelated, the fantasy elements, like this scene, find themselves embedded in the “real world,” yet also carry a distinct presence.  It’s hard to explain.  I suppose I’m saying that I feel as though the fantasy and “real” elements of this comic feel like separate presences that are related to one another.

Carey also continues to effectively blend literary forms, mixing the comic with the prose of the Tom Taylor novels, while also including an ingenious page of “Tommy Taylor” internet search results. This technique only enhances what is coming to be an incredibly interesting dynamic in the comic: Tommy Taylor as Messiah and general religious figure.  I can’t wait to see how this develops.

Ultimately, the end result is an incredibly smart comic that creates an ever engaging mystery that reveals an increasing number of hints both of its character’s past and future. Certainly, this issue provides a mystery that deepens, and grows all the more interesting for it.  All the while, the book’s villains grow to be even more ominous and downright threatening.

Peter Gross continues to shine on the art.  In fact, I actually feel that his work has gotten better in this issue, feeling more refined, polished and perhaps a bit more “modern” as well.  I also can’t get enough of Chuckry & McGee’s dark work on the colours.

What’s Not So Good: I tried to think of something, but I just can’t what’s there to complain about.

Conclusion: Solid plot progression in an issue that yet again promises great things to come.  This is a smart, enjoyable mystery that literature buffs, philosophy geeks, and Sandman/Lucifer/Books of Magic fans need to get in on. This is quite possibly the best non-superhero comic out there right now. If you’re not reading this, you better have a really good reason. And no, an empty wallet is not an excuse!

Grade: A-

-Alex Evans