(I previously reviewed this book for CBR4. My review can be found HERE.)
This one didn’t work for me as well this time around, but it’s still pretty great. Not every book in a series is going to be five stars. It’s not even that I can necessarily point to anything in particular as a reason for my reluctance to give out that five stars like I did the first time I read it, it’s just it didn’t seem as good as the previous four volumes. Each of those left me going YES YES YES and this one, while still excellent, merely left me going “yes”. You know, singular, no capslock kind of excitement. I think maybe the first time I read this I was just so happy to be reading this series again, after not having any new volumes for almost a year. That’s a long time!
ANYWAY. Now that Tom has discovered the Source (and within the first few pages rejoined the real world, and Savoy and Lizzie) it’s time for him to figure out how to harness it. Lizzie and Savoy were already thinking the same thing, and while he’s been missing in Moby-Dick and wherever else, they’ve been planning a heist, but it’s okay, because it’s all stuff that should have been Tom’s anyway. His dad’s estate is being auctioned off, and the trio want to get to it, specifically his dad’s journals, before that happens. Of course things go pear-shaped, and they have another run-in with corpse-face (whose name is Mme Rausche), who actually HELPS them this time, so she seems to be more of an opportunistic player who’s out to help herself, and isn’t afraid to play both sides. She’s still creepy as hell, though.
So they get the journals, and Tom discovers a new ability. Reading aloud from them, he can actually delve into the past, a sort of time-travel, to see the events his father was writing about. And it turns out Wilson Taylor had a lot more going on than previously thought. For one thing, he’s a whole lot older than he should be. And for another, he used to work for the Cabal.
Aside from the final issue, which features the return of the foul-mouthed rabbit Pauly Bruckner and a perpetually ascending staircase, the rest of the trade focuses on Wilson Taylor (who was going by Will Tallis at the time) being sent on an errand by the cabal and failing to complete his mission in an unusual way. It’s strongly implied that this event in his life is the reason for his eventual turn away from them to actively writing stories to undermine their efforts (which seem to center on manipulating stories to control global politics and economics, i.e. their use of Rudyard Kipling way back in Vol. 1 to stoke nationalism and promote colonization for the British Empire).
It does all hang together, and there are parallel echoes in every story that resonate with all the other stuff the comic is doing (the Orpheus and Eurydice story I know will come back pretty soon). It’s just, none of it SPOKE to me the way stuff in the previous four did. YMMV.