Saturday, April 10, 2010

Review: The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity

The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity is the first volume of a comic series written by Mike Carey and drawn by Peter Gross.

Tommy Taylor is the star of a Harry Potter-esque fantasy series that has become a major cultural phenomenon. Fans of the series gather at conventions, online message boards, even join cults to celebrate the series. All the fans hope that the writer, Wilson Taylor, who has gone missing for a few years, will return and write another book. In the meantime, Tom Taylor, son of the author, and inspirado for the fictional Tommy, signs autographs at conventions, and makes money off his connection to the beloved series.

However, word gets out that Tom may just be some kid that Wilson Taylor hired away from a Bosnian refugee family in order to help promote his books. Then he gets abducted and nearly blown to bits by a villain from his father's books. As the lines between Tom's life and the books written by his father begin to blur, Tom gets caught up in events that seem to way over his head.

Let me start by saying that I was not a fan of The Unwritten. The first problem was that I never found myself invested in the characters. Tom Taylor is douche. He looks like a young Charlie Sheen, and even wears the same shitty shirts Sheen wears on that show Two and a Half Men. I instantly had no respect for the guy. I mean, he makes a living signing autographs and making paid appearances thanks to the fact that his Dad wrote a bunch of really popular books, and has the same name as the main character. Zero talent and zero integrity. The other characters in the book are barely there, and are completely forgettable.

The second problem was that I never was able to get invested in the plot. On the surface it sounds was why I bought the book in the first place, but the writing never drew me in. There was nothing there to capture me. No hook. Usually a good graphic novel will have something that makes me crave more, but there was none of that here. Instead I found myself wearily plodding along, waiting for the moment where I would fall into the world Carey had created. That moment never came.

The third problem I had was that the artwork was pretty underwhelming. The art is very plain and untextured. Many of the panels were very bland without much to look at, and the more interesting drawings I would consider mediocre for other graphic novels. The thing that really bugged me was how lame the bad guys looked. I could never take them very seriously thanks to the fact that they looked so damn cheesy. Art is an integral part of the graphic novel format, and it totally fell flat for me in this one.

To put it in a nutshell, The Unwritten failed on all accounts for me. Bad characters, uninteresting plot, and poor art. I will not be returning to this series again.

I realize that this review may sound overly harsh, but unfortunately, I don't have anything positive to say about this graphic novel. I am also aware that my opinion is most definitely in the minority, as this comic has been a critical success, and is extremely popular among the comic buying crowd. It also is up for multiple Eisner Awards, which means somebody out there likes it. So maybe I'm just crazy...but I'm sticking to my opinion.

Grade: D-

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