Robot Reviews: Huh, they still make comic books?

[caption id="attachment_9839" align="alignright" width="200" caption="The Unwritten #1"]


The Unwritten #1by Mike Carey and Peter GrossVertigo, $1.

I've always kind of wondered what it must be like for those who are famous merely because of their genetics, where your choices seem to consist of milk that connection for everything it's worth or spend your entire life trying to extract yourself from those who are impressed because you share a last name with someone they've heard of.

Unwritten adds a nice twist to that dilemma. It's main character, Tom Taylor, is the son of a novelist almost universally adored for a series of fantasy novels that bear an almost striking resemblance to the Harry Potter series. The father having disappeared, Tom spends his days signing books at conventions and trying to figure out how to stand apart from his father's literary creation. The problem is, he may actually be his father's literary creation, instead of a flesh and blood one, if you get my meaning.

Carey and Gross do a really solid job making Tom a sympathetic character and setting up his identity problems while tantalizingly hinting at other mysteries yet to be revealed. My only gripe is that I wish they had avoided the Potter mythos entirely -- they ape it so much its distracting -- and had instead opted to craft a more original fantasy world as a backdrop. Still, I'm eager to see how the series develops, and it's been a long time since I've said that about any Vertigo comic.

From the Ashes #1by Bob FingermanIDW, $3.99.Fingerman has always been such a lovable misanthrope that it's no real surprise that he views the end of Western civilization and the death of millions as the perfect setting for what is essentially a romantic comedy. Neither is it terribly surprising that this is a witty, engaging bit of apocalyptic chicanery. Fingerman has always been as gifted at punchy, snappy patter as he is at grotesque caricature and both talents are on ample display here.

Astro Boy The Movie #1by Scott Tipton and Diego JourdanIDW, $3.99.

This is a horribly generic, bland effort, and that's not something one should ever say when talking about Astro Boy. The character feels like your run of the mill superhero herewith little traits or flaws to separate him and his supporting cast from the plethora of ubermensches out on the market today. The creators don't even seem to be aware that he's a robot and not a human being -- at one point he gets hit on the head and has amnesia, which, apart from being one of the hoariest cliches around, would seem to be an odd thing to happen to a boy made of metal. Astro Boy looks slick and reads well enough -- there's no real incompetence on display. But neither is there any verve or creativity. You've read this comic before.

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