Rating: 3.5/5 – Neil Gaiman “curating” a series in not the same as Neil Gaiman writing a series.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.
Daniel, Lord of Dreams and successor to Morpheus, has goes missing and it is causing problems in the Dreaming. DC, failing to have seriously popular new/original Vertigo series for several years, has fallen back on its greatest success to create/revive several spin-offs in hopes of getting readers back.
This issue is a mixed bag. It’s an anthology giving sample stories of the 4 series that will be set in the Sandman Universe created by Neil Gaiman. As with most anthologies I’ve read, I didn’t like everything, but everyone will have their own take on these samples and this issue is a good way to try out all 4 series in one place. The series revivals (Lucifer & Books of Magic) are the ones I liked the least, and maybe that is because I liked the originals so much that I can directly see a lack of the same “spark” for me that existed in the originals.
The story is credited to Neil Gaiman (meaning he came up with the general idea / structure?) but the comic is scripted by Nalo Hopkinson, Kat Howard, Si Spurrier, and Dan Watters, who are each writing one of the four books spinning out of this comic. I’m guessing each writer scripted the parts of the comic that tie-in with their own series, but that’s not actually stated in the credits. Nalo Hopkinson is scheduled to be writing House of Whispers, a new house in the vein of the Hoses of Secrets & Mystery with a New Orleans/voodoo flavor and the only totally new series. I enjoyed this one, it seemed to have some fresh ideas and I liked the main character Erzulie. Kat Howard is writing The Books of Magic that brings back Tim Hunter as Neil Gaiman’s boy magician. Si Spurrier is writing The Dreaming (another series revival) which gets to play with familiar characters like Lucien, Merv Pumpkinhead, Matthew the Raven and others. Spurrier seems to have a decent handle on weaving a tale of these characters dealing with the absence of Daniel and a new threat that looms in Daniel’s absence. Finally, Dan Watters is writing Lucifer in which the character faces a new set of struggles but does not measure up, in this short sample, to Mike Carey’s epic run writing the character.
For me, Neil Gaiman “curating” this series (and I’m not really sure exactly what that entails) did not feel like a series actually written by Gaiman. He created the core universe and many of the characters, but they’re now being handled by other writers. It’s hard for me not to feel that DC is using Gaiman’s name as a draw on this the same way that companies slap Stan Lee’s name on things where he contributes an idea and then the books are written by others. I suspect they will be successful with this at first as people who love Gaiman’s Sandman try out these new books and that will settle down over the next few months as people decide how much they actually enjoy the work of the creative teams on the books and either stay or drift away from the spin-offs from this anthology. If Gaiman was actually writing any of these they would be auto buys, but with his limited oversight level of participation, seeing the samples presented here, the only one I feel strongly compelled to try is The Dreaming. House of Whispers is a “wait for the trade”. Lucifer & Books of Magic are “if I see them in bargain bins”.
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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