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Review Group Week #300: Unwritten #31

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Outhouse Editor

Postby GLX » Sun Nov 13, 2011 3:45 pm

I guess I should start off by saying that this was a good issue, but it's one that could've been better. Some of the storytelling involving the the arms deal could've been clearer. Also, while I understand that this issue is supposed to "get the ball rolling" for the story, it feels flat. That being said, the art is solid and things are moving in a nice direction. I'm interested in seeing where Carey and co. take this from here.

7.7* out of 10*
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Eli Katz


Postby Eli Katz » Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:29 am

I'm not into magic stories. This book didn't change my mind. I'm sure if I had been reading earlier issues, I would have gotten more out of this comic than I did. I'm not really sure how to rate it, to be honest. Nothing about it stood out in either a negative or positive way. I guess ...

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Staff Writer

Postby SilverPhoenix » Tue Nov 15, 2011 7:14 pm

The Unwritten #31


One of the most important lessons you’ll learn as a reader and writer is that most of the great stories rarely start out as great. Like anything else worth doing, building a story worthy of the highest adulation is not something happens overnight and must be earned by practicing and refining one’s own craft in the art, even if the storyteller has an excellent foundation with a Strong Concept and a detailed (but not iron-clad) outline. At the same time, I also feel that one of the greatest joys of being a connoisseur of this medium is getting on the ground floor of a story and watching it evolve into something that could end up earning a place on the all great comics list and in 2011 “The Unwritten” took a giant step towards reaching that lofty status.

When “The Unwritten” began a little more than 2 and a half years ago, we were presented with the scenario of what someone’s life would be like if they shared the same name with the titular character in the hottest novel in the planet. However, the book quickly evolved as we learned that Tom Taylor was in the center of a war to control society through every aspect of literature. It was also during this time that the book transitioned from a well-written and characterized literature techno-babble fest (I freely admit that I wasn’t prepared for this title when it dropped and subsequent re-reads have made it much more understandable) to one of the best crafted titles on my pull-list month in and month out. Can “The Unwritten #31” continue this title’s amazing 2011? I would definitely have to say yes.


Following fresh on the heels of the numerous revelations of the last arc, this issue hits the ground running, as Tom makes good on his promise from the last issue, and takes the war right to the Cabal. This represents a nice change of pace, as most arcs in this book start off slow on the action as they build up to their climax. What’s also a nice change of pace (especially for those of us who have followed the book from the beginning) Is the fact that Tom has not only accepted that the situation requires him, but has decided to act instead of react, giving the proceedings even more relevance. However, despite the departure from the usual structure, the fundamentals that made this book strong in the first place are still ever present as neither the character work nor intelligent writing take a back seat to the white hot knuckle action. An example of the former is how Carey makes sure that both of Tom’s cohorts are present in both the decision to take the fight to the cabal and what it means for all of their futures, giving the reader a great introspective into the characters and motivations of both Sue and Richie. As for the latter, the challenge that the writer has given the main character will be one to look out for as the story goes on. Overall, Carey continues to build on what could possibly be the work that makes his career one of the major footnotes in this medium’s history.


As far as evolutions go, another evolution that needs to be acknowledged is the overall art itself. Looking back upon my copy of the first trade, the difference is almost as clear as night and day. While the early days of “The Unwritten” didn’t feature bad art (with Issue #5 featuring EXCELLENT art), the overall presentation was definitely unpolished as the drawings themselves felt rough around the edges. However, this issue is a much different story as the art just reeks of polish from the excellent backgrounds, to the near picture perfect character art, there isn’t a single surface detail that feels like It was half-assed in any way, giving the book some of the most refreshing visuals in the industry today. Another thing that I love about this book as a whole, is that there’s always at least one sequence where the art moves the story further and the two page spread where we learn more about the life of the current head of the Cabal (Skate) himself. Through the use of black and white the emphasis on how the visuals portray how screwed up his upbringing was is bought front and center to the reader. Finally I want to give special props to the letterist for his work on Page 4 in story, because it’s due to him that each webpage is given a unique look, adding yet another level of polish to the proceedings. All in all, it’s a job that the whole art team should be proud of.

The final 22 cents

With 2011 coming to a close, if you asked me to write one story that perfectly describes the year in comics, that story would most certainly how this year marked the evolution of “The Unwritten” from pull list favorite, to potential all-time classic. In this year, we have witnessed 2 amazing arcs that saw Tom Taylor accept his destiny, the impact of how a story can truly resonate through society and how the Cabal is willing to go to harness that power. Everything that has been done up to this point has built up to something that makes even more of an impact. The characters have become some of my favorites due to how well written they’ve been and the concept has truly inspired me to think bigger and better as a writer myself. If nothing else, The Unwritten #31 promises that ‘The War of the Words’ will most likely be another great chapter in a story that’s already rich with them.

The verdict
Writing/Story: 8.5
Art: 9.5
Accessibility: 7.5

Final Judgment: 8.5
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Staff Writer

Postby SilverPhoenix » Tue Nov 15, 2011 7:17 pm

Hopefully that was up to my usual standards. I've been dealing with a nasty case of writer's block (not to mention a bit of cynicism about comics, which mostly stems from how I perceive the Big 2 as of late.)
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Outhouse Editor

Postby GLX » Tue Nov 15, 2011 7:57 pm

SilverPhoenix wrote:Hopefully that was up to my usual standards. I've been dealing with a nasty case of writer's block (not to mention a bit of cynicism about comics, which mostly stems from how I perceive the Big 2 as of late.)

It's great as always. I'm just waiting for things to kick up a notch. The first .5 issue should peak my interest.


"Tommy Taylor and the War of Words" continues! Throughout history, a mysterious group of men and women has shaped the stories that humankind tells. Who were they? Where did they begin? What were their motives and their strategies? From ancient China to Medieval Germany to turn-of the century America – in the pages of Wilson Taylor's journals, the real story unfolds...
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Staff Writer

Postby Punchy » Sun Nov 20, 2011 10:37 am

The Unwritten #31 - 'Part One of Tommy Taylor and the War Of Words' - Carey, Gross and Perker

Story - The Unwritten has been one of my favourite books ever since the bumper-sized, under-priced debut issue wowed me with it's mix of literary nerdiness, gripping mysteries, great dialogue and fantastic art. That combination has impressed me throughout the subsequent 30 issues, as Carey and Gross build and build their story.

And with this issue, it looks like the building is somewhat done, and know things are starting to be knocked down, and plot-lines are coming to a head. This issue opens with Tom Taylor attacking Mister Skate of the evil cabal and finally utilising his magic powers to devastating effect. I admit that I was a little put off by this scene, it seemed like Tom had gotten way too powerful way too quickly. But lo and behold Carey realises this too, and by the end of the issue Tom's magic fucks up and he's left stranded in the Antarctic. That's the great thing about this book, when it does something you don't expect, there's always a reason for it, always a catch.

I also loved this issue for the feeling that the book's ensemble had finally gotten together. For me, every classic Vertigo book needs it's group, there's Jesse, Cassidy and Tulip, and Yorick, 355, Doctor Mann and Ampersand and of course Spider, Channon and Yelena. Now that Tom, Lizzie, Richie and Frankenstein's Monster are all together properly, it feels like we've finally got that 'us against the world' type deal that most Vertigo books need.

This book also featured another awesome 'internet' page, where Carey writes fake online articles about the world of the series, in this case excerpts from Tommy Taylor fansites, including a list of several magic spells from the books, and also finally a list of all the Tommy Taylor novel titles. I love this stuff, not only is it a fun parody of rabid Harry Potter fans (of which I was once upon a time) but it really adds to the series and makes it seem real, despite the mental shit that goes on. But it does raise the question of when Carey is finally going to write an actual Tommy Taylor novel.

This issue was the culmination of everything this book has been building up to and a great kick-off to what promises to be the biggest story yet. As someone who's been on board since the beginning, I loved it, but maybe new readers would be a teensy bit lost. But why are you a new reader? If you haven't been reading this, you deserve everything you get.

Art - Peter Gross is joined in this issue by MK Perker, who does a good job of finishing off Gross' pencils, you can tell there's something different than usual, but it still maintains the look of the series. There was one standout sequence art-wise in this issue, and it's the journey inside Skate's head, that was amazing.

Best Line - 'Hi, my name's Tom Taylor. And this is not going to be a good day for you'


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