Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Sandman, Volume 8: World's End

 A small, but important, breather before Volume Nine's huge smackdown....
 Various and sundry lost wayfarers find themselves weathering out a massive storm in "World's End", a pub that exists between worlds, and tell stories amongst themselves to pass the time. That's it.

 And that's more than enough for Neil Gaiman, accompanied by a bevy or artists, including Mike Allred, John Watkiss, Gary Amano, Shea Anton Pensa, Mark Buckingham, Vince Locke, Tony Harris, Steve Leialoha, Michael Zulli, Dick Giordano, Alec Stevens, and Bryan Talbot. Gaiman takes this amazingly simple springboard, and uses it to tell dozens of tales, ranging from full-length to one or two sentences delivered in a throwaway fashion. There are, fittingly, tales within tales within tales, like layers of an onion, or Russian nesting dolls. And Gaiman also manages to deftly tie all of this together at the end, while also foreshadowing events to come in Volume 10. We also get appearances by Prez, Wildcat, and Destruction, as well as a tale starring Hob Gadling, Dream's immortal friend, and one starring The Cluracan, Nuala's swashbuckling ne'er-do-well brother. On the surface, this may seem like an unimportant collection of short stories, but there's some seriously essential clues being dropped here, especially regarding the death of Despair eons ago.

 THE SANDMAN, VOLUME 8: WORLD'S END collects THE SANDMAN #'s 51-56. Regrettably, DC/Vertigo saw fit to only present the covers of the collected issues in thumbnail size.

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