Unwritten #6 – Tommy Taylor and the Sixth Issue...of DEATH!
In the sixth issue of Mike Carey's metatextual suspense story, Tommy Taylor's quasi-fictional life takes a turn down mind-fuck road as he finds himself wrongfully imprisoned for a killing spree perpetuated by the nefarious Pullman in issue four. It's a lie but in Tommy Taylor's world, truth and fiction are equally deadly.
Which makes me wonder...does the Tommy Taylor world have slash fiction? There are, after all, approximately one squillion stories written by excessively moist female Harry Potter fans on the internet in which virtually every conceivable pairing of male characters from the series indulge in unspeakable acts with each other. As Tommy Taylor's story continues to resemble the fiction on which he may or may not have been based, what happens when the slash fiction version of Draco Malfoy or Professor Snape shows up to forcibly re-enact the feverish diddling fantasies of hormonal thirteen years olds? That could get seriously awkward.
Anyway, this issue was fantastic. It's a risk telling a mystery in a serialised medium, especially if that medium is the perennially cancellation-happy medium of comic books where selling three copies of Super Boobs to an ever dwindling audience of forty year olds is considered a financial success and the mystery isn't fortunate enough to involve Wolverine in some capacity. It's like sticking your head into a guillotine and then thinking, 'Hey, this might be a good time to write my memoirs.' That and fans are increasingly impatient with the whole concept of mysteries, largely preferring to follow their favourite stories through spoilers weeks in advance of publication. Six issues in and Carey is still piling on the WTF, with little respite of clarification and that's refreshing. Blurting out all the plot developments, twists and surprises in the first issue is the equivalent of cumming on a girl's face five seconds after meeting her for the first time and then asking her to marry you.
The downside to this is that jumping straight in at this point is like trying to follow the German language version of TV series Lost in reverse order while the director's commentary to the TV series Fringe is played over the soundtrack at double speed. If you haven't been reading from the start, you're basically fucked, so I dunno, maybe you could try playing Swingball instead? That can be fun sometimes.
For the rest of us, though, this is an ever more rewarding read with each new issue. It's a pity we weren't able to review the last issue because that could actually have stood on its own terms fairly well and this is clearly chapter six in an ambitiously novelistic series. I know, I hate the word 'novelistic,' too. You couldn't do this series in a novel. You wouldn't have Peter Gross' wonderful art, for starters. Even though it's a book about words and literature, it would be an anaemic, emaciated shadow of its former self without the wide range of bold, articulate drawings that Gross is able to bring to the table. It's a very comic-y comic book, much as it doesn't look like anything else on the stands right now. And for once, I actually don't think it would read better in trade form. It's an extremely well paced piece of serialised fiction. Track the previous issues down and follow it properly!