Aug 11, 2009

[Comics] The Sandman Vol. 6 - Fables & Reflections

The Sandman Vol. 6 - Fables & ReflectionsWhen comic book companies create compilations (as is the case for anyone else compiling serial works), there's always the liberty of rearranging things in order to create new meaning or perhaps to provide more of a sense of continuity. In the world of comic books, this can become very important given that not every single issue is always part of the overall story and there are often side ventures into one-shot issues that more or less stand alone. We saw something similar in how the original Aeon Flux cartoons were handled when presented in DVD - the order of the episodes implies a logical sequence even if the series as a whole was very non-linear, to say the least.

More so with The Sandman, given the concept of the series is that we are talking about the infinite possibilities afforded by The Dreaming and are helpless but to follow along. Previously we saw one compilation, Dream Country, as acting more as a collection of short stories. Such is the case with this volume, and the stories remain very rich, even if they seemingly do not directly connect to the larger story arcs of the series. Emphasis on the word seemingly.

The Sandman: Fables & Reflections is the sixth compilation of Sandman comic books and it contains a diverse set of issues: #29-31, #38-40, #50 Sandman Special and Vertigo Preview. As mentioned at the start of this review, this was done in order to collate several one-shots that didn't fit in with the overall story arcs of A Game of You or Brief Lives. Other reviews have mixed opinions about this collection being too unfocused, but I think things still managed to work out to some degree.

A number of the short stories are based around the months of the year and seem to touch on various monarchs of different sorts ranging from the likes of Emperor Augustus Caesar to Joshua Abraham Norton, the supposed first and last Emperor of the United States. Then there's the tale "Thermidor", which features more of the story of Orpheus, the son of Dream (or at least his head anyway) and ultimately the story "Orpheus", which better explains things.

Personally, I really liked the story, "The Parliament of Rooks" the best since it interestingly features various stories told within the story - something that is a common theme in the series and something that is done a lot more in a later volume. I guess I've become quite the sucker for the diverse natures of Cain and Abel and how they play off one another. Beyond that, another good one was "Ramadan", which had a nice Arabian Nights kind of feel.

Sure, the collection is very diverse in terms of stories but they're all very good ones - but could you expect any less from Neil Gaiman? As always, many of the stories provide glimpses of other characters that become major players later on and thus the book serves its own function in terms of the overall series.

The Sandman: Fables & Reflections gets 4 Cities in Bottles out of a possible 5.


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