Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Unwritten: Volume 2: Inside Man

by Mike Carey (story), Peter Gross (art), and Yuko Shimizu (covers), 164 pages

With all the circumstantial evidence against him, Tom Taylor loses the love of his erstwhile fans as well as his freedom following a spree gruesome murders at a historic villa. In prison, he meets his new cellmate Savoy, the only person who seems remotely sympathetic about his situation. But even on the inside, Tom's not safe from the powerful forces looking to remove him as a threat. And he's still struggling to accept the truth of who or what he is, the depth of his father's elaborate plans, and the existence of what it is increasingly difficult to deny is magic.

This volume gets even darker and more surreal than the last as Tom and his companions (Savoy and Lizzie Hexam, a possible agent / pawn of his father's) step out of the bloody reality of the prison under siege and into a pre-recorded-film-like WWII Nazi Germany. It's all harmless enough...until you focus your attention on something and give it substance. A twisted tale's corruption takes on physical mass and threatens to swallow everything in its path. The power of words to shape people, perceptions, and history, itself, takes some work to wrap your head around, but it's interesting stuff. And the side story about one of Tom's father's enemies trapped in a Beatrix Potter / Winnie the Pooh-ish story with a dark underbelly is both disturbing and cool. (The first volume ended with a chapter about Rudyard Kipling's assisted rise to prominence, the effects his writing had on the British Empire, and his desperately clever efforts to fight back against his "handlers" with more words when he realized what he'd contributed to. Neatness!)

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