Neil Gaiman – The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 4
23. The Absolute Sandman, Volume 4 by Neil Gaiman, Marc Hempel, Michael Zulli, D’Israeli, Richard Case, Charles Vess, Teddy Kristiansen, John J Muth, Kevin Nowlan, Dean Ormston, Glyn Dillon, Daniel Vozzo, Todd Klein, Dave McKean (original comics 1993-1996; compilation volume 2008)
Length: 608 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel; Fantasy
Started: 22 February 2009
Finished: 24 February 2009
How long has it been on my TBR pile? N/A; library book
All the stories come
together, come to a head,
and come to an end.
Summary: This volume contains the final two arcs of the “main” Sandman storyline. In “The Kindly Ones”, Lyta Hall’s child Daniel has been kidnapped, and she seeks the Furies to help her avenge her loss… although the three play by their own rules, and by turning them loose, a chain of devastating consequences has been set into motion. The second arc, “The Wake”, is much what it sounds like… a coalescence of the stories that have come before it, a closing, an end… and a beginning.
Review: Okay, I said in my review of Volume 3 that I was beginning to get hints of how each individual arc from the previous three volumes was beginning to be part of one overarching storyline. In Volume 4, all of that storyline comes rushing in, and it packs a wallop. Characters that we haven’t seen since the beginning make their reappearances, events that happened way back in Volume 1 become important again, and themes that have been hinted at throughout are suddenly front and center. The art in most of “The Kindly Ones” is somewhat less representational than what’s been typical for the series thus far, which occasionally made it difficult to recognize some of the more minor recurring characters. Of course, that could be because it’s been several months since I first saw some of them in Vol. 1, too.
I don’t know how much of the overarching Sandman story Gaiman had in his head when he started; either he planned a way to weave so many disparate stories into one big, beautiful thing, or else he managed to come up with a way that makes it looked like he planned it, but either way it’s impressive. Recurrent throughout Sandman (and much of Gaiman’s work, really) is the idea that stories have power, and this story is just oozing power – narrative power, metaphorical power, emotional power, you name it. By utilizing elements from throughout culture and history, the finished product feels whole, and organic, and more meaningful that a comic book should be.
Regardless, this is a series I could (and should) (and will) re-read. I finished it, and immediately wanted to turn around and start over at Volume 1 – and not just because I know which characters and events are going to wind up being important now. I actually went and priced it out, and I could get the ten-volume set of the original compilations for $135… but I don’t want the originals, I want the huge, gorgeous, thirty-plus-pounds of restored and re-colored Absolute editions. I don’t have a spare $250 laying around to drop on books (heck, I don’t have a spare $135 laying around to drop on books), but MAN, do I covet these books. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: It took me a while to get my bearings in the series, but holy cow, did Gaiman finish it up with a bang. Don’t start at the end, of course, but after finishing, it is absolutely clear to me why the Sandman series is a classic not only in the graphic novel genre, but also a must-read for fantasy fans in general.
Other Reviews: Have you reviewed this book (or one of its parts)? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
1. The Castle
57. Part One
58. Part Two
59. Part Three
60. Part Four
61. Part Five
62. Part Six
63. Part Seven
64. Part Eight
65. Part Nine
66. Part Ten
67. Part Eleven
68. Part Twelve
69. Part Thirteen
70. Chapter One: Which Occurs in the Wake of What Has Gone Before
71. Chapter Two: In Which a Wake is Held
72. Chapter Three: In Which We Wake
73. An Epilogue: Sunday Mourning
75. The Tempest