Book Notes 21: The Sandman Midnight Theatre, by Neil Gaiman and others
A collection of some of Neil's shorter comics work. All fine and dandy, but far from essential. The most interesting one for me was a Swamp Thing story for which they had reunited the old art team ('old' in the sense of, from the days when Alan Moore was writing it) of Steve Bissette and John Totleben. So that it looked 'right', even for me, who has always paid much more attention to story than artwork. I've never bought a comic because of its artists, but often have because of its writer. That's why it was mainly Alan Moore who brought me back to comics as an adult: he's a great storyteller.
Indeed, I fairly often find myself annoyed or frustrated with sections of comics where the story is told entirely or mainly visually, and for reasons of poor reproduction, or just the artist(s) not being as good as they think they are, it’s hard to work out what’s supposed to be going on.
That happened to a small extent in one of the stories here, in which Gaiman uses the ‘old’ Sandman character, who was published by DC long ago, and was in abeyance when he reimagined the character as the Lord of Dreams that we know today. The old Sandman is a masked adventurer in the intra-war years. His mask is a gas mask, and his weapon is a gun that fires sleeping gas.
This story is a kind of crossover between the two versions of The Sandman. The old one has cause to visit the house in England where an old wizard has the Lord of Dreams captured - as at the very start of Gaiman’s Sandman, in other words.
All in all, reading this was not time wasted, but it wasn’t that great.