Review: The Unwritten

Published on July 12th, 2011

Happy Tuesday, my Comic Impact friends! Sorry to say that I missed last week’s Trade Tuesday. It was the 4th of July. Can’t I take a week off? One week! Come on, give me a break! I understand that it must have been hard for you, but don’t you fret because I’m back and this week I’ve got a pretty interesting book for you. The Unwritten by writer, Mike Carey (X-Men Legacy, Hellblazer) and artist, Peter Gross (Lucifer). So, let’s get down to business!

theunwrittenvol1This series follows a character named Tom Taylor. Tom’s father, Wilson Taylor is a famous author who has written a series of books about a young wizard named Tommy Taylor. It’s kind of like the Harry Potter series, except that Tommy is based on Tom. When Tom was young and his father’s books were at the height of their popularity, Wilson disappeared.

So, now Tom’s a grown man and is now living off the popularity of the Tommy Taylor books. He does book signings and goes to conventions to make a living. When you become the embodiment of something so huge, it becomes difficult to get out of its shadow. Then one day at a convention Q and A, a young woman named Lizzy Hexam points out that there is no actual proof of Tom’s existence. Everything from his birth certificate to his social security number are fake. So the question for Tom is, who is he really? Is he the son of a famous author, or is he really the fictional child wizard that has somehow become real?

Now, you might think that the explanation of Tom being an adoptive son that was pretty much just used for a publicity stunt to help the popularity of a book would be the obvious answer. Remember, this is a comic book and having Tom really be a child wizard who crosses over into the real world is much more interesting. And when Tom ends up being kidnapped by a vampire, it becomes the more probable. Also, there’s a magic cat with wings.

So, I’m a big Mike Carey fan. I love everything he’s written, from Ultimate Fantastic Four to his Felix Castor novels. At first I wasn’t too into this, probably because I kept thinking Harry Potter, and I’ve never been a fan of that stuff. Although, the more I read, the more I started getting into this. I think this is a really cool concept that you wouldn’t normally expect to see as a comic book, but it really works as a comic. What really helped me enjoy this book was a bonus feature at the end. There’s a feature that shows you how Gross took Carey’s original story and turned it into a comic book. As a long time comic book fan, I found this process just fascinating. I’m really glad they included this for the trade.

I think the biggest draw to this story is how it involves classic storytelling. Carey makes references to every famous author. Mark Twain, A.A. Milne, Mary Shelley; knowing who these people are is integral to understanding this book, but at the same time you just need to know who they are. I think Carey did a good job of making this something that’s accessible to people, while still referencing classic literature.

The Unwritten is one of the most engaging comic books I have ever had the pleasure to read. Volume 1 contains the first five issues and has a really good amount of bonus stuff. It only retails for about 13 bucks, but Amazon is selling it for even cheaper. So, why not head over to Amazon and pick up a copy?

Ken Zeider
Ken@ComicImpact.com