The Unwritten #23

by Greg McElhatton, Reviewer |

Story by
Mike Carey
Art by
Peter Gross, Vince Locke
Colors by
Chris Chuckry
Letters by
Todd Klein
Cover by
Yuko Shimizu
Publisher
Vertigo
Cover Price
$2.99 (USD)
Release Date
Mar 16th, 2011

Sat, March 19th, 2011 at 8:36PM (PDT)


There's something wonderfully silly about these last few chapters of "Leviathan," the latest "The Unwritten" storyline. Having been pulled into the pages of "Moby Dick," Tom Taylor began jumping from one book to the next, using the ocean as his common thread between the tales. But of course, there are other symbols that also connect them all... like, for instance, whales.

Which is why, naturally, this issue opens with Tom still trapped inside the belly of a whale with characters like Sinbad, Pinocchio, Jonah, and Baron Munchhausen. Who knew so many characters were eaten by whales, right?

But just like Hobbes' "Leviathan" or the novel "Moby Dick" that kicked this storyline off, it's not really about the whale, and people spending their time worrying about the big monster eating people are missing the bigger picture. Of course, they're in good company if that's the case. Tom himself is missing the big picture as he's trapped inside the whale, forgetting his own particular quest to find the source of his power. The whale is a symbol in all of those stories, after all, and that's where "The Unwritten" excels. "The Unwritten" is at its heart still about all of those big ideas behind the books; the sparks behind why the authors wrote them, the effect they had on their readers, the way the books continue to live on, the images that sear themselves into people's heads.

Now I'm not saying that "The Unwritten" is going to be a modern day "Moby Dick." But I do think that the big money shot of this issue, drawn lovingly by Peter Gross, is the sort of image that is going to stick in some people's heads for quite a while. Because while early chapters of "Leviathan" felt a little aimless, Mike Carey does an excellent job of bringing it all together here. It's an important piece in the greater puzzle that is "The Unwritten," and having passed this particular milestone it's setting up the next journey still to come.

Gross's art this issue is sharp as always, and I appreciate that he's had Vince Locke provide the finishes over his pencils for the scenes set inside the books. Because while on his own Gross's clean lines look handsome and are always well structured, the collaboration with Locke ends up being slightly more weathered and intricate, evoking a feeling of something older. It's also a great visual shorthand for switching between the world of the book and elsewhere, a reminder that Tom isn't in our own world in those scenes.

"The Unwritten" ends its current storyline with a grim message about the nature of stories, and how "Happily ever after" is something that a book's hero can strive toward, but never truly achieve. It's a fate hanging over poor Tom Taylor's head, along with his friends who we last saw in some rather dire straits. Can Tom avoid his father's warning that happy endings are mythical? I'm looking forward to reading more of "The Unwritten" to find out, and issues like this are a good reminder why.

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