The fourth volume in The Sandman series is a welcome return to the long-form plot, which runs through the chapters collected here. Unlike The Doll’s House, the major focus here is on the Sandman himself, as he sets forth to right a wrong we first found out about in Tales in the Sand, one of the stories that break up the narrative flow of The Doll’s House. In righting this wrong, Morpheus finds himself having a run in with Lucifer, the angel who led the rebellion against the god of Christianity and ended up ruler of Hell.
Through the story we meet a smattering of gods from other pantheons – both based in historical belief and conjured up by Gaiman. This is a theme set to run throughout Gaiman’s work, both in comics and beyond. If you like this, you’ll probably like his prose novel American Gods, amongst many others.
Kelley Jones covers off most of the art duties, with a definitive style that is well suited to the bizarre collection of characters and locations we encounter. Mike Dringenberg returns to top and tail the book, and Matt Wagner handles the volume’s only side plot with aplomb. Considering the varied selection of inkers and colourists working across the title, the art holds together remarkably well, with the artists well chosen to cover their own particular strengths.
However, it’s the imagination and coherence behind Gaiman’s vision, bravely creating an environment where every person’s gods can coexist, in an albeit uneasy harmony, that shines through this book. The mythology comes across as convincing and researched, while Gaiman’s own creations become even better defined in their reflected light.