One of the (many) things I appreciate about “The Unwritten” is that Mike Carey and Peter Gross aren’t afraid to tell you what’s coming up, but then provide a bit of a swerve off that path they just laid out. For instance, “The Unwritten” #25 had Tom, Lizzie, and Richie breaking into an auction house, where all the personal effects of Tom’s father, Wilson Taylor, were to be auctioned off. Except the bust went bad, they were captured, and things were not looking good for our heroes.
This month? We discover just what all of the personal effects of Wilson Taylor include. For starters… a captive Tom Taylor.
It’s a nice bit of misdirection; readers are so busy worrying about Wilson Taylor’s journals (which is what Tom and company were trying to retrieve) that the bigger prize goes unnoticed until it’s too late. And so “The Unwritten” goes: misdirecting the audience (but not cheating), while continuing to build on the greater story and universe. There’s a buildup of danger and menace in this issue, and it’s nice to see not only Tom but also Lizzie and Richie prove that they’ve got what it takes to escape a bad situation. Our heroes might have been taken equally unaware as the audience was, but they still came prepared for the worse, just like heroes should.
“The Unwritten” is also a remarkably consistent book. You know from one issue to the next that Gross’s art will look excellent, for example. The huddled Tom Taylor in the bottom of the chamber is hard to not feel sorry for thanks to his body language showing his despair. When he finally rallies and escapes, all you need is a glimpse of his face to know that he means business. Gross saves the flash and craziness for when he needs it, but even when each page is just solidly drawn, it’s a pleasure.
“The Unwritten” is the sort of comic where you come to depend on every aspect of it being strong, from Yuko Shimizu’s beautiful covers to Todd Klein’s careful lettering. At the same time, though, Carey and Gross throw enough curveballs into the mix that you can never get too complacent. “The Unwritten,” month after month, never disappoints.