Story: Jemas / Watson
Art: Larroca / Miki / Smith
now we've already firmly grasped the Romeo and Juliet / aboriginals
versus imperialists themes of this series, so think of this
issue as the final review before the midterm exam. The subtly-named
Sandy tries (too little, too late) to talk her father out
of his rapidly forming plan to exploit Atlantean oil. Then
she drops no more than a hint to Namor of the danger on the
way, as the two of them prepare to attend an undersea birthday
party. Here's the contrast to the uptight WASP social we saw
a couple of issues ago, a festive dinner where Sandy learns
that most Atlanteans are easy huggers and quick to welcome
outsiders. There are,
of course, the racist exceptions, Zarina and her son causing
trouble for the "drytails."
minimalist scripting -- all terse dialogue in the present
tense -- is both effective and frustrating. More introspection
would destroy the mood and weigh down the story, but it
might also bring a little more depth to what could so far
be non-fiction, if set on an island
instead of offshore and underwater.
first confrontation that tells us what this book will really
be about can't be more than a couple of issues away, and the
sumptuous art generously compensates for the spareness of
Sandman: Endless Nights Special
Story: Neil Gaiman
Art: Miguelanxo Prado
testament either to the magnetic brilliance of Neil Gaiman's
Sandman or to my own kneejerk gullibility that I reached
for, bought, and read this twice before it fully registered
that I'd just hustled myself out of $2.95 plus tax. This "special"
is in fact a complete story excerpted from the forthcoming
hardcover, and since I would have bought it on sight as well,
no questions asked, this preview has just raised the price
of the book by at least 10 percent for me.
have to be this foolish, but there are bigger mistakes you
could make, because the
book is all a Sandman devotee could hope for.
the Dream story, and in modest Gaiman fashion it's set near
the beginning of time. It's short on plot because it's about
beginnings and introductions, and not just of Sandman characters
(watch for the powers of Superman and Green Lantern in zygote
form). Also, it's less revelatory than promised; the confrontations
between Dream and Desire are a little too underplayed, and
Delight turns out to be basically identical to Delirium except
for the matching eyes.
mysteries are more interesting, such as Death's icy demeanor
which must at some point give way to the eternal joie de
vivre of the incarnation we met in the original series;
there's a story behind this, and we can only hope we'll get
it in Death's chapter.
best news is that it's Gaiman on form telling us a story that
could only happen (and be taken seriously) in the Sandman
universe, paired up with gorgeous art by Miguelanxo Prado.
rest of the hardback is up to this standard, the final price
tag can only be a bargain.
THE PERILOUS WINDS OF ATHANON
Story and Art: Rod Espinosa
me, you were previously unfamiliar with Espinosa's work, this
is an excellent place to
start, at the beginning of Neotopia volume 2.
joining the story as a servant girl, having been obliged to
assume the identity of the missing (presumed dead) Grand Duchess
of Mathenia, regroups with her loyal followers and prepares
to rally against imperialist forces.
a flavor of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace about this,
it's just a pinch. The dough of
Espinosa's style is rich, bright, organic fantasy, Nausicaa
and the Valley of Wind folded back
into classic Moebius and baked lighter than air.
the characters are cute, the colors are sunny pastels, and
the ships sail through sky
instead of water. But the motivations are sound, the plot
is serious, and the villains --
industrialists looking to dominate the world culturally and
economically -- inescapably familiar
to anyone aware of international politics in the real world.
It's a perfect combination of
style and substance, easily appreciable by fans of both pure
manga and Western-style comics but easily overlooked because
it's a Tortoise among Hares.
finds our heroine confronting a shipful of anthropomorphic
hyena pirates, and
reintroduces the real villains, who resemble a cross between
The Invisibles' Archons and
something out of The Dark Crystal. It's mostly stage-setting
and foreshadowing, but there's
so much happening with the characters and the action that
you'll hardly notice.