Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 224
Series : #4 The Sandman
Format : Graphic Novel
Reason for Reading : Graphic Novel Challenge, to review with Darla D

This is the fourth installment in the massively successful Sandman series of graphic novels. After volume 3 which mostly consists of indivual short stories, this is more of a return to the main plot following Dream/Morpheus and his family of The Endless.

So this is my first buddy review. Me and Darla D both read this graphic novel around the same time and she asked if we could review it together. We thought up questions and both ansered them below. My answers are in purple, hers are in red.

What did you like about the graphic novel?
I liked the story, the main plot that linked the separate comics together. After the previous collection it was a nice to get back to the regular storyline.
I love the dark atmosphere of the stories, as well as the mythological elements. The main story features gods and goddesses from different pantheons (Egyptian, Norse, Japanese, Christian, etc.), all interacting together. It was fascinating and often funny to watch them scheme to get what they wanted, playing off each other's strengths and weaknesses.

What didn't you like about it?
I would have liked to have spent more time with the Endless, but I am sure they will pop up again in future collections.
I can't really think of anything I didn't like about it. My expectations are growing with each volume, as I find the books get better and better as they go along, and I was not disappointed.

There were a series of different artists who worked on the novel, did you have a favourite and least favourite?
To be honest I though that the artists all worked really well together keeping a consistent style throughout no matter who did the pencils, ink and colour. The covers by Dave McKean were stunning as always. One thing I did enjoy reading were the spoof blurbs about everyone involved in it's creation at the back of my edition.
One thing I have come to enjoy about these stories is that even though I like some of artists' depictions of the characters more than others, they all manage to convey the distinct feel of each character despite artistic and stylistic differences. The Sandman is always, clearly the Sandman, no matter who is drawing him. I think my favorite illustrator of this particular volume is Mike Dringenburg, but it is a close call. I really liked all of them, but I think Dringenburg's style is the most visually appealing to me.

There was more from the rest of the Endless, do you have a favourite and least favourite?
Well obviously I love Dream and Death. They are the two I have spent the most time with. I also find Delirium really interesting and hope to get to know her better in the future. There aren't any of the Endless that I dislike and I am curious to see who their other sibling is who was not present in this collection.
Death is still my favorite, although I enjoyed getting to know the others a little better. I'm intrigued by Delirium and hope we'll learn more about her in future volumes. Least favorite I suppose would be Desire because s/he is such a conniving troublemaker - but then her trouble-making is a lot of fun to read about!

What did you think of the ending?
I thought it ended well, the main storyline was closed with a happy resolution for me.
I liked the ending. I liked that many elements of the main story were set up in earlier volumes, and that things I'd been wondering about (such Dream's relationship with Nada). Several narrative arcs come to a close in this volume, and while some were bittersweet, the endings all felt right.

Lucifer has a spin off series, do you plan on reading any of them?
I am definitely interested although I think they have had mixed reviews. I loved his work decision and as always Lucifer is one of my favourite characters. There is just something interesting about him and versions where he is not the bad guy we are told he is.
I did not know about the spin-off series - but I imagine that once I'm finished with the Sandman books, I'll be interested to check out other stories from this fascinating world.

Which was your favorite story and why?
This collection really read like one cohesive story so I don't really want to separate out the different comics.
This collection has one main overarching story as its focus, and I liked that story a lot. But I did also enjoy the rather grim one set at a school, which was an interesting interlude. As far as each individual story in the collection goes, if I had to pick just one, it would be the opening one - Episode 0: "In which a family reunion occasions certain personal recriminations; assorted events are set in motion; and a relationship thought long done with proves to have much relevance today." I liked this one because it gives us a closer look at the Endless and it sets up all kind of intriguing questions. Plus I loved the artwork.

What do you think makes the Sandman stand apart from other graphic novels?
I think it really helped comics becomes more main stream. It was written at a time when it wasn't cool to read graphic novels. It's a very dark series which I really like, but I don't think I can read too many too close together as they would give me nightmares ironically enough!
I think there are many elements that make this graphic novel series stand apart. One thing is the way the tone and atmosphere are portrayed by the various artists very consistently across the volumes of the series. Another thing that I love about this series is all the allusions to mythology, religion. and literature. And, of course, the characters are fascinating and the plot is surprising, never predictable.

How do you think this fourth collection compares to the first three?
I think I liked it the most so far. I felt the story held together the best to date and I really look forward to seeing what Dream and his family have planned for the next one.
This series just gets better and better with each volume. The last volume was composed of one-off stories, which I enjoyed, but this one was a bit more gripping because it had a longer, more complex storyline that was intriguing and very satisfying.

Darla's post is up here.


soleil said...

i really do need to check out this series. i have been hearing about it for years!

would you like to review The Tarot Cafe in a similar manner?

Kailana said...

Fun review! I haven't made it further than book one in this series... One day I will, though!

Ana S. said...

Yep, they do get better and better :D As I was just telling Darla, loved the review format!