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The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship that Sank Twice – Review

By: Mike Carey (writer/creator), Peter Gross (layouts/creator), Kurt Huggins, Al Davison, Russ Braun, Shawn McManus, Dean Ormston, Gary Erskine & Gross (finishes), Zelda Devon, Davison, Chris Chuckry, Eva de la Cruz & Jeanne McGee (colors)

The Review: While this OGN isn’t all I hoped, it is worthwhile to consider the status of The Unwritten franchise before really diving into any serious criticism.

For the first 49 issues of its Volume 1 run, The Unwritten told a story as complex and nuanced as any comic currently in publication.  In those issues, it dug deeply into the power of stories to shape reality, propaganda, religion, and what happens when humans lose the ability to create.  It was truly wonderful….but it never sold very well.  By the end of its 49-issue run, sales had slipped to ~8,000 issues/month and that usually leads to cancellation of the series.  However, what we got was not a rushed conclusion to The Unwritten.  Instead, Volume 1 run is ending with a (pretty terrible) crossover with the Fables Universe.  The crossover is a cute enough story, but it has absolutely none of the complexity of The Unwritten and has nothing to do with the first 49 issues.  Now we get this OGN (which I’ll discuss in a minute) and a relaunch of Volume 2 sometime this winter.

On one hand, I could complain that *they* aren’t finishing the story that I – and ~8000 other people – was enjoying for the first 49 issues.  On the other hand, I could be grateful that the series didn’t just have a rushed ending – The End.  Someone at Vertigo fought to keep this series going despite low sales and decided to try this as a strategy to bring in some new eyeballs because an audience of 8000 fans isn’t very profitable.

With that out of the way, it’s natural to expect this OGN to be “new reader friendly” and it is.  If you are one of those intrepid 8000 fans and you hoped this OGN would pick right back up with the story of Tom Taylor in Hades, you will be disappointed.
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Unwritten #4 – Review

By Mike Carey (Writer), Peter Gross (Art), and Chris Chuckry & Jeanne McGee (Colors)

Some Thoughts Before The Review: Each issue of Unwritten has been intelligent and thought-provoking in a way that few comics are. Here’s to hoping that the trend continues…

The Story: Tom Taylor gains access to his father’s room while Pullman goes on a relatively calm, collected killing spree…

What’s Good: If you like horror movies, then Unwritten #4 is going to be a real treat for you. From the gruesome Tommy Taylor opening to the slasher movie gore, it cleverly comments on (and plays into/with) genre conventions in so many ways that I couldn’t help but have a big stupid grin on my face the whole time I was reading it. But that’s not all that’s good about Unwritten #4. What really makes the issue something special is how all the gore and clever dialogue works in service of a mystery that keeps getting more compelling as the series gets older.

As far as the technical stuff goes, the latest Unwritten basically stays the course. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not! Peter Gross’ artwork effectively captures the horror flick vibe that runs through the entire issue. From the slick panel work to the lightning bolt framing that’s used, nearly everything looks great. As for the writing, Mike Carey’s work is as intelligent as ever. It’s clear that he “gets” horror and the line between a good genre convention and a bad one.

What’s Not So Good: This really isn’t a true problem, but I’m starting to miss the news clips, blogs, and commentaries that were sprinkled throughout the first few issues of Unwritten. Mike Carey handled them spectacularly and it made Unwritten really feel like nothing else on my pull list. One other thing worth mentioning is that a few panels just look a bit “off.” Either characters look a bit odd or the action comes across in a way that seems a bit unnatural (the scene with Pullman punching through glass comes to mind).

Conclusion: One of my favorite series having fun with my favorite genre?! Oh yeah, Unwritten #4 is good. Very Good.

Grade: A-

-Kyle Posluszny

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