The Unwritten #6 - 'Inside Man Part One' - Carey and Gross
Story - It's an interesting thing to review a book so soon again after reviewing it's debut issue. It gives us the oppurtunity assess the series as a whole, as well as just this chapter. Has the book lived up the the first issue? Or has it squandered it's potential? Thankfully, for The Unwritten, it's definitely the former, this, like #1 is a great comic.
The Unwritten has moved on from the initial concept of a Harry Potter analogue, to become a story about all literature, and our relationship to story, so it makes sense that when Tom Taylor goes to prison, it's a prison with literary connections, Donostia is built on the site of a battle which was immortalised in a Poem, 'The Song Of Roland', it's another piece of the enormous puzzle in this book, and it's certainly very tantalising. The issue opens with an excerpt from the Poem, amazingly adapted by Gross, these sequences, such as the Frankenstein one and 'How the Whale Became' have become real highlights, and show Gross' versatility. The Unwritten has quickly become the book to come to for mysteries, like Y: The Last Man was before, we are reading because their are secrets and truths hidden in amongst the plot, and this 6th issue does a lot to advance existing mysteries, and even adds some new ones, it's masterfully done. We want to know what's up with Tommy himself and his origins, but also society who employed Pullman, and who is pulling Hexam's strings, and now what the hell is up with the Tattoo? It's very tantalising stuff.
Carey also introduces a couple of new characters, such as Richard Savoy, Tom's cellmate, a hulking fellow prisoner and also a gruff Prison Warden, and they seem interesting, but who knows? In this book, they could be around for the whole run, or dead next issue, like those poor Horror writers, I think it is here that Peter Gross' art helps a lot, his clear cartooning makes all the characters distinctive and interesting.
The Unwritten has shown itself to be a book full to brim of ideas, and this issue contained one of my favorites, where Lizzy Hexam, a mysterious girl who may or not be Tom Taylor's 'Hermione' is getting instructions from whoever the hell it is she's working for, and the answers appear in random books she picks up a shelf, it was just a fantastic scene, and it also enhances the mystery and strength of story in this world. I must add that throughout the book there is a sense of humour, the Swiss judge palming off the case to France, the character of Savoy, The Unwritten doesn't take itself too seriously, and that's a good thing.
This issue also continues the use of epistolic material, Carey and Gross tell the story not just in panels and wordballons, but also full a whole spread of websites discussing the events, and it's really fun, Carey perfectly gets the voice of online help gurus, or internet trolls down pat (maybe he visited here for reference?) and it's an inventive idea more comics should try. This is even integrated with the regular comic structure, where much of the issue is narrated by a Blogger called 'Inside Man' (hey, that's the title of the arc! It's a double meaning, this guy, and Tom being inside prison, more subtle cleverness).
This was another fantastic chapter in the ongoing storyline, it kept things moving at a brisk pace, added more the the mystery pot, and introduced some potentially great new characters, and that last page shows that even the flashbacks and quotes in this book... they matter. This is 2 creators at the top of their game, telling an intelligent, but not pretentious great yarn, which has something to say about the world, It's just as good as #1. if not better.
Art - I've already brought up Gross in the main body of the review, so I'm at risk of repeating myself, but damn, he's awesome. I've mentioned the character designs, which are brimming with wit and fun, but I should also bring up how he adjusts his style for the opening flashback, it's subtle, but there's more lines, and the colouring by Chris Chuckry is more washed out, it looked like the Bayeux Tapestry in some ways. Superb.
Best Line - 'Whoops, Butter-Fingers'