By: Mike Carey (script), Peter Gross (art), Ryan Kelly (selected finishes), Chris Chuckry (colors) and Todd Klein (letters)

The Story: Tom goes into storyland to find a possible ally.

Review (with SPOILERS): Geez….I really don’t know what to make of this issue.  By that I mean, I literally don’t understand what happened.

The main focus of the issue was on Tom Taylor dreamwalking his way into a Tommy Taylor form and visiting Madam Rausch.  Of course, I understood the surface layer of things in that Tom was there to recruit Rausch as an ally in his war against Pullman and that she may or may not help them, but then things became murky for me.  Rausch has been a recurring character in The Unwritten for a very long time, but this issue made me reevaluate her character in a different way.  I’ve always thought of Rausch as being similar to Wilson Taylor in that she was a gifted storyteller who did her work with puppets whereas Wilson was a writer.

But to be honest, I never thought of Rausch that deeply before.  She was just always “there” in the story as a quasi-villain.  Whereas Pullman is obviously the embodiment of the “Original Sin” story and Leviathan (i.e. humanity’s collective consciousness) loves that story to the detriment of all else in the world, I always thought Rausch was just an antagonist.  Hmm… I’ll have to revisit her because it seems there is a LOT more to her character than I’ve appreciated before.

While this sort of disconnect can be frustrating in a comic, The Unwritten has been such a rewarding experience that I’m sure the pieces are all there to decipher the mystery.  They’ve been there for everything else in the story. They’ll be there for this too.

The interesting thing is that this ties back to Volume #1 of the series where we saw a little baby Leviathan crawling into Rausch’s mouth.  If we think about that, it could be that Leviathan represents the collective human interest in a certain type of storytelling (like the Bible) and the “death of stories” in The Unwritten is the death of religion.  Hmm……that would sort of make sense given all the interest in Original Sin and Pullman.  It does make me wonder what Rausch and Baby Leviathan will do.  If this Baby Leviathan is humanity’s consciousness taking interesting in a new type of storytelling and it has sought refuge in a nasty and wretched storyteller like Rausch, it would explain why Baby Leviathan looks like a horrible, toothy serpent and Original Leviathan looked like a kindly whale.  Maybe that’s saying something about how just because hipsters loathe organized religion, that the types of stories they prefer may not be any better?  Hmmmm…..

Other things in this issue didn’t make sense to me either.  I’m not sure why the Ghost of Miri was hanging out in the shower with Richie.  I guess that since the entire house they are staying in is a creation of Wilson’s mind, that there are special rooms for Miri and Pauly Bruckner.  But, why is she in the shower with Richie?  I really can’t grasp the significance.  Ditto for the French kids….there is something more to them, but I just don’t get it (yet).  Again….I’m sure it is there if I keep peeling at the story: The Unwritten has never disappointed before when I’ve gotten out a magnifying glass and scrutinized the story.

The art is great again.  The Unwritten nails all the storytelling aspects of each panel.  It’s flawless from a storytelling standpoint.  The Baby Leviathan looks the way it looks for a reason and it’s because Mrs. Cary and Gross wanted it to look that way.  Each panel is so well thought-out… seeing Tom revert to Tommy to enter his dream walk but then return to “Tom” when he confronts Rausch.  I can’t think of a comic with better storytelling in the art.

Conclusion: A puzzling issue, but the answers are there if you work at it.  The Unwritten is probably the best thought-out series I’ve read in a long, long time.

Grade: B

– Dean Stell