DC Comics
The Unwritten #24
By Dan Horn
April 15, 2011 - 17:35

DC Comics
Writer(s): Mike Carey and Peter Gross
Penciller(s): Peter Gross and Al Davison
Inker(s): Al Davison
Colourist(s): Chris Chuckry
Letterer(s): Todd Klein
Cover Artist(s): Yuko Shimizu
$2.99 US

"Season two," as Mike Carey might describe it, of The Unwritten adjourns with a familiar theme and with a familiar lead, the manically foulmouthed rabbit, Mr. Bun, from issue twelve's Willowbank Wood (read my review of that issue here). Last we'd seen the homicidal bunny, his fate was seemingly sealed, but now it would appear that poor Mr. Bun is far from dead, though "consumed" may better communicate his current status.

This is a beautiful, yet simultaneously disturbing, masterstroke of dark fantasy. "Stairway to Heaven" is not unlike issue twelve in its off-color delivery, but rather in its presentation as a mounting quest and not an addled tale of paranoia and surrealist horror. In this issue, Carey and Gross scatter a few more pieces of their grand puzzle, alluding once again to Pauly Bruckner, Bun's ostensibly human birth name, broaching the link between Pauly and Wilson, and illustrating, via the eponymous stairs, the way in which story worlds are metaphysically interconnected.

In this issue there is a thematic commingling of Lewis Carrol, A.A. Milne, Beatrix Potter, and others in a fashion that a berserk Brian Jacques might present them, a whirlwind of foul-mouthed, violent, yet adorable sword and sorcery. An innocently naive narrative pins the whole thing together, creating a fascinating contrast reminiscent of Carey's work in Lucifer with the introduction of Elaine Belloc.

Bruckner is delectably devilish and fiendishly manipulative. He represents a character singularly possessed by bitter vengeance, and the torment that racks his brain manifests vividly in his demeanor through Davison and Chuckry's moody charcoal and pastel finishes over Peter Gross's impeccable layouts. The setting of the stairwell is also evinced in a way that relays the unearthly nature of it without leaving the reader feeling gipped by something that is purely psychotropic fluff. In fact, The Unwritten as a whole retains an uncanny palpability despite the prevalence of empyrean whimsy, and that is a truly remarkable accomplishment. Carey and Gross are making readers very "happy ever after" with this book.

Rating: 9.5/10

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