The Unwritten #17 is an entertaining tale with fantastic art, but beyond that it is a wonderful example of what comic books are capable of as a medium. By stepping out of the standard sequential format, Carey and Gross have created an issue that is fun and interesting in its execution. But by incorporating the story and the method of its telling thematically into The Unwritten issue #17 goes far beyond simple novelty.
In last issue Lizze Hexam (or Jane Waxman or…well, whoever) was injured, rendering her catatonic, setting the stage for this as of yet unexplored character. An enigma up until now (or perhaps even more so now) Lizzie has been Tommy Taylor’s opposite in many ways, having embraced the legacy of Wilson Taylor. But is she a character from one of Taylor’s books, being manipulated, or simply deranged? The answer, as in much of The Unwritten seems to be, “Yes.”
However, rather than a straight account of Lizzie’s past, issue #17 presents readers with a story based on the old Choose Your Own Adventure books’ format. Not only is this done in such a fashion as to be fun and increase the value of the book (from the standpoint of how many times you can re-read it) but The Unwritten plays it in such a way that it ties in perfectly with one of the title’s major themes–of how stories and how we view them affects the way we view the world at large and, indeed, helps define what we see as the truth.
While the art is up to its usual excellent standards, designing the layouts for this issue surely presented a technical challenge that Gross and team excel at. While I’m sure that it caused more than its share of headaches, the results are well worth it.
The Unwritten #17 is not a good place to start and that it is not a self-contained story is, in this reviewer’s opinion, it’s only failing (if you can call it that). While not a good place to start in the series, it is an excellent example of what’s good about comics and what creators can do with them when they choose to step out of conventional bounds.
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