Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Unwritten #34.5

Written by Mike Carey
Art by Peter Gross and Gary Erskine

Each of these '.5' issues of The Unwritten have been giving us a glimpse or two into the history of The Cabal, the shadowy group that use the power of stories and fiction to control the world, or into the history of some of the prominent characters in this comic.  Until this point, we haven't seen Wilson Taylor, the father of main character Tom Taylor and author of the fictional Harry Potter-like Tommy Taylor novels.  We know from the regular issues of this comic that Taylor pere worked for The Cabal during the Golden Age of comics, but we have never learned a thing about his life before that.

This issue stars Will Tallis, who became Wilson Taylor some time after his experiences in the Great War.  Now, the First World War has long held an enduring fascination for me, and this issue has Taylor address the origin of some of the great myths of that war - the Angels of Mons, the corpse factory of Thiepval Wood, and the Blood Keep, the place where German soldiers tied nuns to their bells and tolled them to death.  As we learn, many of these stories came from young Taylor himself, although they then came true at the same time, suggesting the depth of Taylor's connection to the world of fiction.  This is later confirmed when a certain fish-like figure appears before him.

Carey has really crammed these decimal-numbered issues full of information, and much of what I've seen makes me want to go back and re-read the series from the beginning, knowing what I know now, especially the 'Leviathan' arc, which featured the whale from Moby Dick, which was also all fictional whales.  There is definitely more going on in this comic than I would have thought at the very beginning of the series.

One thing that has consistently surprised me since the comic went bi-weekly is that Peter Gross is still drawing almost every issue.  In a world where it takes many artists three months to draw 20 pages, Gross deserves a lot of credit for almost doubling his output.  He's joined by Gary Erskine as inker this issue, and the result is work that doesn't really look like Gross's or Erskine's at first.  I'm used to Erskine's inks making people look very harsh, especially around the jaw (look at Rick Veitch with, and without Erskine to see what I mean), but that didn't happen here.

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