The Unwritten Vol 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity
[Four and a half stars]
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Peter Gross
At first glance, the story of Tom Taylor appears to be a commentary on the all-pervading presence of this other boy wizard that’s become the literary and pop culture cornerstone of the previous decade. But dig deeper, and the little plot strands that writer Mike Carey teases us with ”“ the protagonist’s encyclopedic knowledge of literary geography, the implications that fictional worlds may have their own way of interacting with the “real”, and the way we see the veneer of the protagonist’s life being ripped away piece by piece ”“ all of these make this new series from Vertigo a very worthy addition to their formidable catalogue.
Tommy Taylor is a boy wizard, and the star of a 13-volume fantasy series written by Wilson Taylor. Tom Taylor is a young man who is, to all intents and purposes, Wilson Taylor’s son and the inspiration behind the character. Even though the writer disappeared a couple of years ago, Tom frequents the convention circuit making appearances as his character’s namesake ”“ “making steady money”, as his agent puts it. But when an interview question probes deeper than the usual fan-service, Tom finds out that his whole life may have been a lie, and that Wison Taylor’s stories might not be all made-up, after all.
A series dripping with allusions, both about its plot and literature as a whole, The Unwritten seems too cocky sometimes for its own good. The first five chapters are paced slowly, one of them a digression from the main storyline, a flashback involving Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain that casts further light on Tom’s predicament. One thing is clear ”“ this is not just about fantasy; from the looks of it, Carey and Gross have something far more ambitious planned for this series, and I for one cannot wait to read more.