This week we continue with our summer reading with the literary comic series The Unwritten.

Title: The Unwritten, Vol. 2 – Inside Man
Written & Illustrated by Mike Carey & Peter Gross
Published by DC Comics under the Vertigo label in 2010.

Available from Amazon.com

The Premise

After the massacre last volume, Tom Taylor has been arrested and charged with murder. In prison, he will find himself in greater danger then ever, before he will discover that he possesses more power than he possibly imagined.

High Points

Tom accidentally summoning forth images from the Song of Roland. Well, that and the Canker.

Low Points

For a series about the importance of stories, and the power of stories, and how stories need to be protected, this volume goes on an odd tangent about how stories can become too powerful and should be controlled, with the villains using the power of stories in an attempt to destroy Tom and with two children who embrace the power of stories becoming collateral damage in the fight between Tom and the Cabal.

Further, there’s the constant refusal to explain to Tom what the hell is going on by Lizzie, in spite of the fact that under the circumstances, he really needs to be knowing who is trying to kill him, why they’re trying to kill him, what his power is, and how it works, and what his father’s plan is. Not only so he can help keep innocents out of the line of fire, but also so he can take steps to avoid blundering into the Cabal’s traps.

The Scores

Originality: The Unwritten still remains an original concept, though some of the concepts (a conspiracy using a prison in an assassination attempt), I’ve seen before. Still, this story adds some interesting twists related to the “power of narrative” focused nature of the universe. 4/6.

Artwork: The book continues to keep up the excellent art style from the last volume, at an equal level of quality. 5/6.

Characterization: This volume has a whole bunch of new characters, and they’re all fleshed out incredibly well. 5/6.

Emotional Response: The deaths of several characters of this volume were tragic and handled very well. However, stretching out the mystery of Tom’s abilities by Lizzy outright refusing to tell him just frustrated me (just as much as I suspect it frustrates Tom). It’s gone from maintaining a sense of mystery to leading Tom & the reader along by the nose. Just spelling a little bit about his powers and why he has them would be nice, and could be done without spilling the beans on the whole thing.

To put it another way, using references to literature & fiction – in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams used the book (and, to a lesser extent, Ford Prefect), to dole out exposition to the reader (and Arthur Dent), in an entertaining fashion, and in chunks that didn’t bog down the story, but still left Arthur confused, but still providing the reader (and Arthur) with information that they need for the situation at hand.

While this primarily relates to the story, the frustration this gave me definitely fits in this category too. 4/6.

Story: See the High & Low Points – and the Emotional Response category. 4/6.

Flow: 6/6.

Overall: This volume feels like a step down from the first, just because of the sense of being drug along by the nose. I’ll keep reading, as the series got Hugo nominations after this volume, so it’s got to get better, right? 4/6.

In total, The Unwritten – Vol. 2 gets 32/42.

Next week we wrap up Summer Reading with Derwin Mak’s The Shrine of the Siren Stone.