By: Mike Carey & Peter Gross (story & art), Chris Chuckry (colors), Todd Klein (letters)
The Story: Tom Taylor returns from death by spinning through a bunch of familiar stories.
The Background (with SPOILERS): This issue totally met my expectations for excellence.
The Unwritten has had an interesting history. It started out with a lot of acclaim back in 2009, but rapidly followed the pattern of new ongoings where the mainstream comic media sites don’t really care about any comic with a bigger number than 10 on the cover. So, it kinda fell off the radar screen for many readers.
But, if you follow sites like this (and few others) you’d know that The Unwritten developed into one of the deepest and most ambitious stories of recent memory. It’s central premise was to question the separation and connection between story and reality. The Unwritten started out with the smaller idea that “real” humans could cross over into stories and literary characters could cross over into the “real” world. From that came the idea that some of these literary characters were basically kept alive because this creature called Leviathan enjoyed them….and Leviathan’s enjoyment kept them alive – sometimes FAR beyond where the character was sick and tired of being alive and wanted to end it.
One of these characters is/was a “man” named Pullman and we’ve learned through the series that he MAY be the Biblical Cain….or he may be something more primal: The Devil. Leviathan may be some mystical cosmic beast OR Leviathan may be the sum total of humanity’s consciousness. Anyway, Pullman – sick of being kept “alive” by Leviathan – came up with a way to gravely injure Leviathan. This has led to a true crisis for reality. When it was first presented to us, it was as if real-world humanity had lost the ability to imagine stories…..and THIS was damaging to the world. This damage was illustrated to us in a story arc where the only people capable of crafting a story were children and they could only come up with zombie stories (an ironic meta-commentary on the amount of copy-cat zombie stories in the world of 2014).
This led us to a crossover with Fables which was mostly unfortunate. It just didn’t have the punch of the rest of The Unwritten, but it DID introduce an interesting thought: That none of these worlds is really “real”. There are no “real worlds”. Everything is just a collection of stories: every world, every person. So, when Leviathan is damaged to where he/she/it/us cannot comprehend/enjoy new stories, all realities are threatened.
The conceptual storytelling behind The Unwritten is SO rich. It is/was truly the best form of storytelling where there are multiple layers to every story and where you can start to examine the real world in different ways because of the work.
FOR EXAMPLE: Just as I was typing this I reconsidered the anti-religious angle in The Unwritten. If Leviathan is the collective conscious of humanity, then humanity’s long-term obsession with Abel and “original sin” and Biblical stories has led to humanity’s own downfall. Rather than moving forward and applying the lessons of Abel, humanity became obsessed with the STORY of Able to the point where the original story was tortured beyond recognition and it rose up to bite humanity. That could just be my imagination making connections OR it could be some meta-commentary on conservative Christianity.
See, deep stuff indeed… And I’ll tell you that there are few things more rewarding in stories than feeling this you are unraveling what a complex story IS REALLY ABOUT.
Review (with SPOILERS): The main purpose of this issue is to get the train back on the tracks. The Fables crossover did have a few interesting wrinkles, but it was largely a departure from typical The Unwritten storytelling. At the same time, almost nobody read The Unwritten Volume 1. So, this issue needed to be a jumping on point for people who are relatively new to the series. Thus, it isn’t reasonable to expect this first issue to dive right back into the deep end – and it doesn’t.
But, what we DO have in this first issue is a very powerful return of the themes of The Unwritten. We basically see Tom Taylor – who died at the end of The Unwritten Volume 1 – trying to return to “life” and his own “reality”. Along the way, he bounces from story to story before finally ending up in something that approximates his reality, except that his reality isn’t anything like our real world anymore.
Filed under: Vertigo | Tagged: Chris Chuckry, Dean Stell, Mike Carey, Peter Gross, review, The Unwritten, Todd Klein, Vertigo | 3 Comments »