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

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Sandman: Vol X: The Wake (1996)

Author: Neil Gaiman | Illustrators: Michael Zulli / Charles Vess / Bryan Talbot / John Ridgway | Page Count: 185

"Even in this half-assed medieval Milton Keynes there's got to be somewhere a man can get a pint of beer."

Book 10 of 10 in the Sandman saga is a quiet, reflective piece wherein Gaiman says goodbye to the enduring characters he created and the stories that he felt he was fit to tell; it’s a bitter-sweet reading experience.  Like I’ve said before, Vol IX: The Kindly Ones (1996) is the true end, this is merely an epilogue.  However, it’s notable for giving us the second thing that a man in a tavern promised the Dream King twenty years previous; the first was in Vol III: Dream Country (1991).  Yes, that guy; and the gift given is perfect in every way.

The book is split into two distinct parts: a three issue farewell that wraps up the Endless story, and three stand-alone works that serve to tie up loose ends of some of the more long-lived secondary characters.  The sense of loss and of inevitable new beginnings permeates every aspect of the book.  It also manages to be a celebration of the long tradition of spoken word storytelling, and of the comic book format.  As such, it’s less immediate than what came before.

Reading it feels like wanting to stay home when you know you have someplace important to go; you go because you know you must but part of you remains in the safe home environment; a part of you that you can't define but can invariably feel.  That might sound like I’m talking out of my ass (you should hear me whistle) but if you’ve walked with Morpheus, and love the art of storytelling, you’ll understand what I mean.  If you didn't already love Matthew, you will.

I felt a little guilty consuming all 10 volumes in such a short space of time but that won’t stop me doing it again someday.  When something is this good, binging is a justifiable act.

The book collects together Sandman issues 70 – 75.

3½ cameos by some of DC's finest out of 5

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