Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Unwritten #1 – A Review

The Unwritten #1

Publisher Vertigo Comics

Writer Mike Carey

Art Peter Gross

Colors Chris Chucky

So if you have passed up on this book from Vertigo then you have made a big mistake. The first reason to get this book is it is written by the talented Mike Carey. Now I’m not an unabashed fan of his work and have never gotten around to reading Lucifer, but I have read many other comics by him with Crossing Midnight (a very under the radar comic) being my favorite work by Mr. Carey to date.

I have no basis for this opinion, but it feels like the Unwritten is Mike’s most ambitious comic project to date and I want this to be a long ride, so I hope the rest of you try this book out also.

Let’s list the reasons why you should buy the book:
1) Mike Carey is the writer.
2) Peter Gross is the artist
3) The first issue is 32 story pages long
4) IT IS ONLY $1
5) IT IS JUST $1

The story is about Tom Taylor, who is a young man trying to make a career from living off the idea that he was the basis for the Tommy Taylor character in his father’s book. Tommy Taylor is an obvious homage to the Harry Potter character and by using that as a launching point I’m sure Harry Potter fans will get more out of this story then I will. I have seen the movies, but never read the books. By using that as a starting point Mike is able to build on the concept quickly without having to explain too much. Tom Taylor’s father disappeared a few years back and his estate is tied up in various legal matters, leaving his son to sign his father’s books and attend conventions as the public figure behind Tommy Taylor.

At one such convention a young girl starts to ask questions about who is “Tom Taylor” as she has proof that he is not the son of the author Wilson Taylor. From there things go south rapidly as people are outraged about the fraud, Tom’s agent seems to know about what is going on, the police are starting to wonder more about Tom and his Dad’s disappearance, a character from one of the books shows up to capture Tom and the girl who started the whole thing saves Tom from the bad guy. (Whew)

In one issue Mike has packed in a lot of material. The main character is established, the foundation behind the main character has been established, supporting characters have been introduced, the world around our characters has been established (the fan clubs and cults around Tommy Taylor), an exciting first adventure occurred and came to a conclusion and the hints of what “The Unwritten” will mean in this book have been strewn about like Hansel leaving a bread crumb trial.

Peter Gross is equally brilliant in this book. Peter has a light line style that is realistically proportioned but not a 100% realistic style. Peter is away from the cartoon style, but not into photo-realistic. His layouts and design work are top notch, his ability to provide detail when needed is good, his expressions are great and he is a great draftsman. In this issue he was called upon to use a few different panel and pages styles to accomplish what Mike was doing and every page was well done. I can’t think of a better artist for this series.

As always I can only say that the colorist Chris Chukry also did a great job as the art was not muted or obscured by the coloring. As the mood and tone changed during the story, the coloring enhanced the change. I wish I knew more about it to comment, but for me if the colorist lets the art shine and enhances the mood of the book, that is a good job.

DC’s Vertigo line up deserves to be bigger sellers then they are as they are wide ranging in the mood and genre they cover. Right now some of my favorite series are at Vertigo and not a single one that I’m reading is targeted for my comic purge. Fables, Hellblazer, Madame Xanadu, House of Mystery, Northlanders and Scalped are all well done books and the Unwritten now joins the ranks as another Vertigo title that I will have on my list.

Overall Grade A – The Unwritten is another must read Vertigo title.


  1. Right there with you. An excellent read. And you really should read Lucifer. I have the entire run if you'd like to borrow it some time.

  2. Thomm - One day I will borrow the Lucifer series from you.

  3. Jim... after you borrow it, loan it to me and then I'll return it to Thomm. I've been wanting to read L- for a long time. I heard it was very, very good.

  4. Lee - You should borrow it first, you know what type of turnaround time I have with books.