Aug 18, 2009

[Comics] The Sandman Vol. 8 - Worlds' End

The Sandman Vol. 8 - Worlds' EndAs The Sandman series drew to a close, you'd think that there was nothing much else for them to do. In the course of the life of the series, Dream had been imprisoned, escaped and reclaimed his realm and the tools of his office. He addressed various threats to hi realm and he survived the gift of Hell itself. He had located his brother, Destruction, after years of being "missing" and so many other things. All was as good as could be expected considering The Dreaming, but then Neil Gaiman made sure there was more yet.

This collection is the last of the short story anthologies of sorts that often get assembled from various one-shot comics that stand independently of any of the other major story arcs in the series. It's definitely one of the more focused one given the central theme that ties all the stories together, to a limited degree, but as always it remains to be highly impeccable reading.

The Sandman: Worlds' End is the 8th collection of The Sandman series of comics and contains issues 51-56. Like Dream Country and Fables & Reflections before it, it contains several stories that don't necessarily connect to one another but further enrich the Sandmanb universe in one way or another.

Unlike other short story collections, this book has a strong unifying element - the inn known as Worlds' End where all the stories in this book end up being told. The inn acts as a sort of safe port in a storm when reality breaks down and the walls between dimensions and realities weaken. Some comment that this set is loosely connected to the DC crossover event Zero Hour, but that's not readily apparent.

Each of the five stories in this collection a very strong and I'm torn in trying to figure out which one I like best. The first story, A Tale of Two Cities, is distinctly disturbing with that H.P. Lovecraft feel, which is executed very well. On the other hand the fourth story, The Golden Boy, is striking in its positivity and feelings of hope against all odds without seeming overly unrealistic despite the strong fantasy / fiction pulse going through the entire arc. The last one is just so...unique, words fail me. A story about denizens of a necropolis who have built a culture around various funeral and burial practices is definitely odd and a clearly different spin on your run-of-the-mill zombie-like folk. Cerements definitely stands on its own and it eventually connects to the ending of the series, loosely enough. Heck, the circumstances that have them all trapped at the in connect to the end of the series as well.

The overlay of individuals telling stories while waiting for the "storm" to pass is a timeless one indeed and is a concept that everyone can connect to on some base enough level or another. It provides an interesting domain for everything to play in and the whole story about stories format will never get old for me, admittedly enough.

The Sandman: Worlds' End gets 4 fruits of immortality out of a possible 5.


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