After becoming disenfranchised with "The Unwritten" over the course of its second story arc, the beginning of its second year had me interested and back on board. I'm happy to report that the second issue of this new story continues the strong, interesting storytelling of the first. By upping the ante in this arc, Mike Carey and Peter Gross have given the book a strong, compelling direction while still utilizing the unique elements that made it such a stand-out series when it launched last year.
The countdown to the release of the new Tommy Taylor book has reached 24 hours and with the buzz at its height in public, things are nothing but tension behind the scenes. The issue begins with a funny scene of a critic reading the book, not really written by Wilson Taylor, and reacting with anger and despair at the horrid writing. He rhymes off cliches before noting that trashing it in writing could lead to problems and he isn't going to praise it -- so what's he to do? Why, toss the book in the garbage! If things are bad for critics, they're worse for Tom Taylor and his small group as Lizzie goes solo and Savoy has been bitten by and enslaved by Count Ambrosio, the enemy of Tommy Taylor made real. With the organization opposing Wilson Taylor lurking about, things are especially tense.
This issue doesn't advance things as much as the previous, but it builds the tension well. Tom Taylor is less worried here than he usually is, so focused on possibly seeing his father the next day that, when Lizzie is captured by the enemy, it really surprises him. His reaction to it, though, shows how much he's grown up over the past year, while Lizzie's reaction shows how immature she is.
I can never say enough nice things about Peter Gross' art. He and colorist Chuck Chuckry give this book a rock solid foundation that allows for the deviations to fictional worlds to stand out so much. Gross' plain, basic style for the core of this book is focused on a minimalism of strong storytelling. He mostly uses simple grids, but breaks from them for good effect, like how Count Ambrosio uses Savoy's eyes to spy to Tom or shifting to slanted, more jagged layouts during an action scene.
Things are changing in the world of "The Unwritten" and you never know what will happen on any given page. Carey and Gross have created a world that's malleable to instant changes where they have the freedom to suddenly shift gears and throw a major curveball. Two issues into the second year, they've really begun to use that tool to make this book a genuinely exciting and surprising read.