Tag Archives: Narnia

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #10



In the first chapter of the final UNWRITTEN story art, “Annals of Comparative Literature,” Pullman has the maanim, and the end is as nigh as it’s ever going to get. But even magic trumpets have rules, and this one has a homing instinct – and there’s only one place in all the worlds of fiction where it can do its apocalyptic thing. Which just happens to be the one place Tom is afraid to go…

After one issue setting the stage, in somewhat of a breather pause, The Unwritten starts hurtling towards its conclusion in ‘Annals of Comparative Literature’, exposing once again its core themes, as explicitly as possible. Bonds are tested, reality even more so, stories need their characters, and the parallels between all the plots take centre stage – only for everything to change once more.
Mike Carey returns to his earlier dabblings with literature, writing Tom and his cast through the end of last issue back into post-literary London, bringing back the Christopher Robin conundrum as a last resort for the main cast of Tom, Lizzie and Savoy to save the world before bedtime. But Pullman is also trying his best to end his own misery, and the world with it. And everyone encounters bigger obstacles, slithering in the dark, shaded backgrounds.
The issue is intentionally slower in pace, as it condenses the entire beginning of the final arc of the series (!), bringing back multiple threads and strands from The Unwritten and Apocalypse into two tight spots. And yet, the sense of impending doom, of spilt ink and blood to come, of betrayal and jeopardy and danger are so tense that not even gleeful vampires, boy wizards, nor swearing rabbits can help shift the sense of unease.

Peter Gross bears the bulk of the linework this month, and he does a wondrous job of mirroring the script in the layouts and panel arrangements on the pag. Particularly worth highlighting is the Wilson/Pullman double page spread, showing just how similar the two characters might be after all, and how the situation is pretty much identical. Savoy reaching through panel borders, lines bending and adjusting to punches thrown, a sinister splash page and some great perspective are just examples of the storytelling at work here.
Of course though, the differences between the converging parallels of the story could not be as clearly marked if it were not for Chris Chuckry’s colours: the contrast is more obvious towards the end of the issue, but the shift in tones between one side of London and Pullman’s HQ (and more) are fantastically placed, as is the saturation chosen for the flashbacks. Additionally, we get to see some more of Todd Klein’s handiwork, from the crumbling title page to how some characters bend their own speech to his will and fonts, and more sound effects are materialised in the spaces between realities.
Yuko Shimizu brings another superb cover piece to the series, highlighting all the points made by co-plotters Gross and Carey about Tom’s identity and his father’s power over him on an ominously red background, grounded in ink and writing. The whirlwind of ghost pages justify Tom’s terrified expression, but it’s Wilson’s sombre concentrated face that is particularly unsettling.

Thoughts (May Contain Spoilers)
As the first issue of the final arc of the entire series, #10 is another wonderful piece of the puzzle, with some extremely dark and unsettling scenes and interactions, especially towards the latter part of the book. Gross and Chuckry’s visual work are phenomenally well executed on Carey’s script, and there is one page that still has me smirking, and another that shows off the creators’ twisted sense of cruelty towards their characters that bode well (?) for the full-on, impending Apocalypse.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #10 is now available in shops and digitally here.


The Unwritten: Apocalypse #9



The three immortals – Wilson, Rausch and Pullman – are moving toward their respective endgames. But when was the last time they were all in the same room together? Answer: half a century ago, in Oxford, England. And the reasons for what they’re doing now can be found in what they said to each other back then…

The penultimate story arc of The Unwritten: Apocalypse ended in ‘Sang’ Part III (last issue) with multiple endings and dazzlingly knotted plots and threads, in what is increasingly becoming a game of triple crossing and multiple jeopardy – but issue #9 tries setting the record straight, for lack of a better word, as we see a story and read another.
Dropping the current Tom Taylor storyline for the issue, we move back to a younger Taylor/Tallis, as he conveniently joins the mythology enthusiasts of Oxford, the Inklings. Mike Carey is not a stranger to tinkering with literature, and that is pretty much the scope of the series, but this particular twist is especially juicy, adorning Taylor with even more power and resources than we had seen so far. And then Pullman shows up. Followed by Madame Rausch.
The interaction between the different characters, their voices included, is well crafted, both with the Inklings and the fearsome threesome, and the parallel scripts used to show the extent of the characters’ powers are a well-executed example of the possibilities of comics as a medium. Taylor’s voice, however, is the most intriguing aspect of the issue, showing him as a new writer, a naive perhaps, manipulator of stories – with one, significant change in his tone towards the end.

The parallel scripts, of course, only work with the layouts and artwork of the co-plotter, Peter Gross. The pacing is really well done, and two pages in particular really stand out (including the final one). Additionally, Vince Locke’s finishes on the art really help in setting the time scale of the issue, and make the mythopoeic splash page look truly outstanding.
If possible, Chris Chuckry’s colours take that even further, contrasting the pub scenes with the ones showing Rausch, Pullman and Taylor in such a way that the latter are eerily appropriate to the events taking place. Todd Klein’s hand in the typewritten captions is subtle, but necessary to the duplicitous script, and there is one particularly well-placed sound effect that really jumps off the page.
As for the cover, as always by the excellent Yuko Shimizu, it serves as a very distinct reminder that yes, this is the book-shattering conclusion approaching, Tom is not the knight he could’ve been in ‘Sang’ – but there is something more in the image: what has Tom realised, that we haven’t yet?

Thoughts (May Contain Spoilers)
With only three more issues to go, Inklings is a superb intake of breath before the plunge, delving back into the past and motives of the three key players, seemingly revealed at last. As the saying goes, though, the storyteller is not to be believed, only the story – and we’ve seen in this issue that we cannot trust those either; but thanks to the nature of the comics medium, we are able to view multiple sides of the same tale at once, however unreliable any of them may be. So follow the threads of what’s to come, but beware: there is no indication whether they’ll get you in or out of the labyrinth.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #9 is now available in shops and digitally here.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #1



It’s the perfect jumping on point, as Tom Taylor is stranded at the beginning of all creation! Lost in the unwritten scenes of all the world’s stories, Tom Taylor is headed back to reality — and all the gods and beasts and monsters ever imagined can’t stop him. But there’s a toll on the road that may be too high for him or anyone to pay…

When the story arc of The Unwritten Fables, and with it Volume 1, came to a close, the world ended. In fact, all the worlds ended. Fictions, realities, imaginations, readerships, textworlds all finally shattered after a recurring mention and succession of events throughout the series after volume 6, ‘The War of Words’, and throughout volumes 7 and 8, ‘The Wound’ and ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’ (released in TPB this month).
And Tom/Tommy Taylor was at the centre of it all. Which is where we find him now, as he is recreated and reimagined from nothingness and words. Mike Carey and Peter Gross’ story brings Tom to different stories of death and renewal, of childhood and innocence, of rebirth, revelations and knowledge – in search of his own identity, he inhabits the dawn of time, Wonderland, Narnia, Aesop’s Fables, The Jungle Book, Rose Cottage and The Hundred Acre Wood, debating whether his own reality is reality at all, and where that knowledge will take him.
Carey’s writing is wonderfully executed, with the highlight found in the palindromic poetic passage in the Narnia scenes, and some perfectly appropriate human reactions from Tom to the mindfuckery going on.

Peter Gross is both co-plotter and artist on the series, and takes the idea of (re)genesis and (re)creation the visual sense as Tom proceeds through the different realities. From the early almost black and white pages which contain a trace of the blue pencilwork beneath the inking, and making the marks more ‘real’ as the story progresses. He imitates other artists’ styles according to the story, too, such as John Tenniel in Wonderland, while keeping elements of his own take.
Chris Chuckry’s colours and lack thereof really made it feel like a creative process in stages, starting from the light sepia tones of the beginnings, gradually shifting into more saturated colours, once again mirroring the style that the story is using as setting. Todd Klein’s lettering, while most Vertigo readers will be used to by now, has some really creative solutions in the different sections, especially in the sound-words used in the wild geese section and the first page’s DNA sequence. The issue’s title, ‘Bestiary’, is a delight, too, with each letter shaped as an animal and in light pastel colours, in distinct contrast with the black and white page it finds itself on.
As for Yuko Shimizu’s cover, there is little to be said other than it is, as usual, absolutely stunning. Tom coming out of a dead cicada’s shell, with the background of a grim, bloodied London skyline captures the entire issue in one image, in its composition, subject and colours.

Thoughts (May Contain Spoilers)
So what do I think of this new beginning? Excellent. The plot is getting back to what The Unwritten was about when it first appeared, without having to work within a universe that fitted it, Fables, but still felt a little short on the sleeves.
The way in which all creative aspects conflate into the telling of this story is superbly done, with both the visual and the textual elements blending perfectly to tell the story (stories?). Tom’s return to his ‘actual’ reality leaves us with a number of questions as to what has happened during his absence, and where the story may go from here. But for the next month, I feel I have enough to go re-read in preparation. I suppose.. the end begins here?

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #1 is now available in shops and digitally here.