It kind of surprises me that I'm still engaged with Mike Carey and Peter Gross' new Vertigo series, The Unwritten. I wasn't overly impressed by the $1 first issue, finding it slow to get moving and somewhat predictable, and I was skeptical as to whether or not the metatextual premise of the series would be sustainable over a long run. In most of the interviews I've read Carey addresses, and diffuses, the obvious comparisons to Rowling's cash cow, but whether you were comparing it to Harry Potter, Tim Hunter or any other fictional boy wizard creation was irrelevant to me. I just felt like the similarities, period, would sink the general appeal of this book sooner than later.
Four issues in, though, and I'm still buying it, still reading it, and it looks like I'm going to be in for the long haul on this one.
What's keeping me intrigued so far is the fact that Carey hasn't fallen back on as many 'obvious' devices as I had expected him to. Going for the shock reveal that the reader expects has little appeal. If they revealed right out in the first issue that yes, Tommy Hunter was a fictional character brought to life by his creator or by some other means and raised as a real boy in our world, I would have been gone right then and there. Heck, I was dicey on whether that same reveal on periphery characters was going to be make or break for me. Carey seems to be trying to keep things ambiguous on that point, however, and the true origins of everyone are still shrouded in mystery 48 pages or so into the tale.
There have been some interesting thoughts that Carey has put to paper on the ideas of language and fiction, and I have a growing curiosity regarding the character of Mr. Pullman whose motives are unclear as anything else in the book. The artwork by Peter Gross is stellar, as always, and while the first story arc has reached a conclusion there is very little closure. What that means is that it reads like an ongoing serialized story and not a 'paced for the trade collection' that so many other books are.
I was genuinely excited when I saw the fourth issue on the racks today and eagerly snatched up the last copy my LCS had. It was a deliciously macabre issue (much like the last one) that I read as soon as I got home. I figure that's as good a sign as any that I'm on board for the first year at the very least. I'd be curious to hear what, if any, opinions anyone else has on this series to date.