cover image The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice

The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice

Mike Carey and Peter Gross. DC/Vertigo, $22.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-4012-2976-4

Tommy Taylor’s father destroyed his childhood by penning popular novels about a boy wizard based on his son. In the ongoing Unwritten comic, fantasy literature’s wish-fulfillment machine gets coated in a sardonic darkness reminiscent of Lev Grossman. With this superb standalone graphic novel, Carey and Gross explore the roots of their mythology. The action pivots from the diaries of Tommy’s cold-blooded father, Wilson, to the actual novels that he’s grinding out with mechanistic precision while regarding his baby boy Tommy as nothing more than a publicity tool. The Tommy stories are a clever riff on popular fantasy tropes, mashing up Superman and C.S. Lewis right at the start before kicking straight into Harry Potter–land, with the orphaned boy wizard battling a Voldemortian vampire-wizard with his two best friends at his side. Carey and Gross have the knack for drawing a certain kind of reader in (you know who are) just before flipping back to Wilson’s diaries. If there’s any flaw in this richly rewarding novel, it’s that it romps too long in J.K. Rowling’s playground—one longs to see Carey and Gross take on other genre clichés. Give them time. (Sept.)