Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Sandman: Vol IX: The Kindly Ones (1996)

Author: Neil Gaiman | Illustrators: Kevin Nowlan / Marc Hempel / Glyn Dillon / Charles Vess / Dean Ornston / Teddy Kristiansen / Richard Case | Page Count: 352

It was then that Delirium noticed that she had absent-mindedly turned into a hundred and eleven perfect, tiny multicoloured fish.
Each fish sang a different song.

Book 9 of 10 in the Sandman saga is the largest volume of the series, containing one 13 part story, and a short 14th piece which acts as a prologue.  All good things must come to an end and this is it.  There is a 10th volume but this book is the real end of the series, and it doesn’t disappoint.  The Kindly Ones gathers together threads from all previous volumes, and weaves them into a blanket of deep synchronicity; don’t even think about reading this unless you’ve read Vols I, II, IV, V and VII.  Up until now Morpheus was the thing that most of the characters had in common, that begins to change.  Events that seemed minor in previous books have grown to encompass most of the people that the Dream King has touched over the years.  There are subplots in the weave that aren’t strictly necessary but they serve to make the pattern much more beautiful than it already was.

That sense of change that was apparent in Vol VII begins to have unavoidable repercussions; this volume is about collecting payment, and about paying your dues.  It's about acting according to your nature and accepting what that means for others.  It’s essential reading for any comics fan.  Gaiman fans in particular will drop their chin on the floor at the structure, the beauty and the complexity of his greatest work.  It's a master-class in how to wrap up a multi-part narrative in a satisfactory manner.  My chin is still on the floor.

My only criticism is some of the artwork doesn’t suit the mood of the piece.  It detracted a little from the darkness that was ever present.

The book collects together Sandman issues 57 – 69 and Vertigo Jam #1

5 dream a little dream of Dream out of 5

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