Wordsworth: The title character is a lonely librarian whose only friends are the limitless books that he has at his disposal. Enamored with words and wordplay, he is adept at crossword puzzles. They rarely offer much of a challenge, until an unusual one is passed onto him which not only knows his past, but his future as well. So obsessed is he with the solution that he will plumb the darkest pits of his soul to find the answers. To sum up: Fan-freaking-tastic. I have always said that this series has the potential to rival DC's Sandman series, so it's no surprise that having Neil Gaiman scripting (with inherently creepy artwork by Dave McKean, who supplied covers for Gaiman's Sandman) should produce such a slam dunk. It's two mad geniuses working together. This story could've consumed the entire issue, and I would've been a happy camper.
The Girl In The Peephole: Arthur Smack somehow gets a job at a mental institution, despite his less-than-savory past. He sees it as an opportunity to help others while simultaneously helping himself; a way to atone for past sins. But when he is transferred from the main floor to Ward S, where all the most dangerous patients are housed, there is something hidden behind one special door that makes him forget about atonement, desiring only fulfillment. The unique combination lock that prevents him from getting through that door presents a challenge. One could almost say...a puzzle. This is a good story that makes you think about forgiveness and redemption, and what it takes to receive it. It also brings to mind the unusual benefit of the Hellraiser franchise: you can safely root for the Cenobites, because more often than not, they are monsters punishing monsters. Nobody likes the devil, but you still applaud when an evil man gets sent to Hell.
The Last Laugh: Have you ever wondered what Cenobites do in Hell on their days off? Apparently they spend it in a little hot spot that is one part Evening at the Improv and one part The Gong Show. Stand up comedian siblings the Fabulous Funoli's are caught in an endless cycle of comedy routines that always fail to impress the audience, resulting in a good long torturing between sets. Luckily for them, one of the Cenobites staffing the club isn't really a Cenobite. It is, instead, Ron Ringwood of the Harrowers in quite a clever disguise, and he is there to rescue them. As with the other Harrower solo story from the previous issue, it hardly qualifies as a story. It's just something that happened. Still, it offered a unique (and frankly unlikely) glimpse into the social life of the Cenobite, and as much as I wanted to dislike the ending...it really made me smile. So I guess that's something.