“It will be a very slow . . . apocalypse. Those who live by . . . imagination . . . will feel it first. But in the end . . . without story . . . without the ability to step sideways from fact . . . into hypothesis . . . human life is untenable.”
You could be forgiven for thinking that after the max craziness of the last volume, where seemingly all the story-lines ended in a whiz bang of revelations and violence and all those kinds of shenanigans, that the main part of this story was over and anything that comes after will be anti-climactic. They saved Leviathan, the Cabal is dissolved, and Pullman (and Lizzie) are seemingly dead. But the end of the War of Words is only the halfway point of the story Carey and Gross are telling. If the first half of the story is about where stories come from and how they work, then the second seems possibly to be about why we need them, and what happens when they go away.
There’s three parts to this volume. The first is a standalone issue that features the return of the foulmouthed rabbit, Pauly Bleaker. He meets up with The Tinker (Wilson’s other son, who had descended into the storyworld to try and bring back his lost love). The second part is the four issues that make up “The Wound,” the main event here. It’s been a year since the battle in Radcliffe’s Camera in Oxford. Tommy is traveling the world, trying to staunch the wound that Pullman gave to Leviathan, by using his connection to story and to the people of the world through Tommy Taylor to feed Leviathan new stories, to give it life. But it’s only doing so much, because while he’s trying to heal the wound, someone else is widening it. Our usual heroes (Tom, Richie, and RIP Lizzie) are nowhere to be seen for most of the story. Instead, we have the awesome Didge and Daniel Armitage, the young man whom we met at the end of “The War of Words”, who used to work for the Cabal, but had a powerful experience with Leviathan. Didge and Armitage end up getting involved with the Church of Tommy cult, and things go pear-shaped from there. The last part is a single issue featuring a flashback to the time immediately after the events of the last volume, with Richie attempting to nurse Tom back to health.
The whole thing is a resounding, interesting success. I always love when Pauly shows up, and the final issue gives Richie a nice showcase, especially since sidekicks can so easily become nothing more than tools the author (or the hero) pulls out when he needs them. But man, I’m just all about Didge and Armitage. Their whole story: infiltrating the Tommy cult, Didge’s badass personality, what they find in the cult headquarters . . . riding a unicorn to the rescue. I just loved the whole thing. Diving immediately into the rest of the series.