Sometimes you just gotta play the hand you're dealt.
The Unwritten #6
The Unwritten may be a great comic. A lot of people seem to think so. In fact, opening this issue there's a whole page of them. Imagine my surprise when on the next page there are another half a dozen, including the old site which grinds out publicity handjobs with abandon. All that's missing is a quote by GLX, which will probably make a debut next issue, and by then I expect at least three pages of glad-handing. There is so much wasted space on these pages, I couldn't help but wonder why they couldn't just combine them into one publicity page and maybe put it somewhere else. Looking at the first two pages alone, my design-head is already shaking.
(I thought the cover was attractive and eye-catching in contrast, BTW.)
Then there's a fake internet report that gives away some of what's been going prior to now, but from the perspective of someone who admittedly doesn't really know any of the facts. Speaking of just the facts, ma'am, under the headline it says this was posted on 10/21/09 @12 AM but at the end it says it was posted on 10/14/09 @12 AM. Can anyone reading this book monthly tell me if that is alluding to anything at all, or simply a dumb mistake? Because the two conflicting dates are like 6 inches from each other--from the perspective of someone who used to look for stuff like this for a living, it sticks out like a sore thumb.
In addition to the report, there are tons of other expository devices used here--almost too many, from the Inside Man Reports (which oddly switch to a narrator's voice in caption boxes that does seem semi-omniscient--WTF?!) to faux-Facebook, internet searches, poetry, newspaper stories--all of it gives a sort of general idea that a bunch of folks were brutally murdered and Tom is under arrest suspected of the crime. But honestly? I'd have traded all the cramped tiny text for one decent recap page at the beginning that clearly laid out the events of 1-5.
Tom's unfortunate circumstances take us readers on a magical tour of many fantastic locales, from an (Italian?) court-room, to the interior of a high-speed train, inside a French prison--meanwhile the girl I remember from issue 1 incites Bookdealer's Rage in me wandering around damaging the merchandise of my French compeers. Tom's acquired an irritating sidekick since issue 1--nothing very interesting is revealed about him here, and it seems like his narrative utility is to serve as someone for Tom to lecture about literary history in place of the reader. In prison Tom seems to suffer a martyr complex, seeing himself as a lone Crusader beset by pagans (Roland). He wakes up to an open cell door and wanders around until he runs into...Frankenstein! Probably. All of this is rendered competently without a lot of background detail in a lot of the panels.
I'm being a tad facetious with my review because I honestly don't know what else to do--this just isn't a very new reader-friendly issue. I'm sure Invisibles #5 wasn't either. But regrettably Unwritten #6 did not convince me to buy this book monthly, and might actually deter me from buying the first trade in January. (Hint: Take a clue from your old pal Mark Waid here, DC/Vertigo!)