I've read and re-read these stories countless times, but I think this was my first go at one of the Absolute editions. Strangely I found the Season of...moreI've read and re-read these stories countless times, but I think this was my first go at one of the Absolute editions. Strangely I found the Season of Mists storyline considerably less satisfying than Game of You, which is the exact opposite of how I felt as a teenager, when Mists was probably my favorite arc after the Kindle Ones, and Game of You my least favorite. Mists has more outright mythology, and of course the central conceit is delicious: Lucifer gives up Hell. It also deals directly with Dream, thereby satisfying the kind of get-on-with-it-dammit impulse that I find fading as I get older and take more pleasure in weird involutions and set pieces. Dream, though, is a shit protagonist. Seriously. This guy condemns a lover to Hell for thousands of years and it never occurs to him that that might have been a crappy thing to do until his sister (also after 1000s of years) happens to point out the obvious, and we're supposed to feel some kind of empathy when he smashes a mirror in frustration? AND this guy's a semi-omnipotent meta-god! What? The main pleasures in these issues are found in Gaiman's mythological contrivances. Morpheus (and the artwork depicting him) shift with each person to whom he gives audience (to Bast he is a cat; to Susano'o no Mikoto he is a woodblock print); the emissary of order chooses to manifest as a cardboard box; Thor gets drunk and makes dick jokes.
Sandman works best when the mythical more directly intersects the mortal plane. Even if he lets some Britishisms escape the lips of American characters, I think Gaiman actually has a gift for dialogue, and Game of You showcases that nicely in the apartment scenes. One or two sentences from each of the women and they feel more human than Dream does in the entire series (I know, I know, he's *not* human). There's also some wonderfully surreal imagery, like a man opening his own torso with an exacto knife to reveal a ribcage filled only with blackbirds, or Thessaly later extracting his dead tongue with her teeth.
And, as I commented in a status update, while this edition is beautiful and comprehensive and includes a lot of cool extras, it is BIG. Reading it is like strength training for your forearms. I kind of wish DC had decided to publish twice as many volumes at half size, because these things are absurd.(less)
Sandman is easily one of my favorite works of fiction. I loved it in high school when I first read it, and I've loved it every time I've re-read the s...moreSandman is easily one of my favorite works of fiction. I loved it in high school when I first read it, and I've loved it every time I've re-read the series. Most of what I know about mythology stems from reading this series, as does a significant portion of my vocabulary. I can't recommend it enough.
This edition and the rest of the Absolute Sandman series are beautiful, gigantic tomes that ought to come with their own special reading couches, because they are simply not the kind of books you can read while traveling or walking or waiting for a bus. In the intro to one of the smaller Sandman collections, Gaiman wrote that art is anything that would stun a burglar, and that that collection was big enough to do so. The Absolute collections are big enough to stun 10 burglars.(less)
More strong work, particularly impressive after being so thoroughly disappointed by the Serenity comics. I like how the Ring-like personalities of the...moreMore strong work, particularly impressive after being so thoroughly disappointed by the Serenity comics. I like how the Ring-like personalities of the stones get addressed more explicitly, but I wonder if they have any agenda other than... being evil. The One Ring in LotR could be interpreted as a piece of Sauron trying to defrag itself (oh yes I can make this sentence nerdier, but I am sparing you), and its evil influence usually seemed to stem from its very nature than its will (it doesn't make you bad because it wants you to be bad, that's just what happens when you wear it). The stones seem a bit different. They explicitly tell people to do bad things. I'm interested to see where Kazu goes with that, if anywhere.
At this point I think the only real trouble I see with this series is a slight tendency toward character bloat, but as sins go, that's pretty minor.(less)
Just reread this one after using it as a test case for work all day. These are all wonderful little tales, and some are real gems, particularly the st...moreJust reread this one after using it as a test case for work all day. These are all wonderful little tales, and some are real gems, particularly the stories about Desire and Dream, both of which have artwork that match and complement their stories. P. Craig Russell's work was actually a bit dissapointing, especially considering Ramadan is one of the best one-offs in the Sandman canon. Asside from the cheesy, superhero-esque color mixing, the art just feels a bit sloppy.
Another reviewer noted that these stories are somewhat more erotic than most sandman stories, and that's certainly true. The over the top (but masterfully rendered) eroticism in Desire's story is obviously (?) appropriate, but it did seem pretty artificial in others (e.g. Destruction).
Like the Hidden Years collection, this is a beautiful little interlude between the original 8 books and the largely non-Wendy works that follow. Where...moreLike the Hidden Years collection, this is a beautiful little interlude between the original 8 books and the largely non-Wendy works that follow. Where the art of Hidden Years is lavish and colorful, Dreamtime is muted but warm, lots of charcoals, heavy pencils, and inks. I think my favorite part upon re-reading this was the way each dream is told before a background of nightly life in the Holt: hunting, tanning, playing, appreciating the forest. These are actually the scenes I remember most from the series.
Also, the little addendum featuring Wendy chatting with Cutter and Skywise is way too tantalizing, esp. now, many years after it was written. When will Wendy return to Elfquest?! When?!?!(less)
More than satisfied my need for escapism. Character, plot, and writing are all decent in these books, but I have the most fun seeing how Novik fits dr...moreMore than satisfied my need for escapism. Character, plot, and writing are all decent in these books, but I have the most fun seeing how Novik fits dragons into a world based on historical fact and the very solid expectations of O'Brian fans. The first book was a wonderful exploration of how dragons and the Aerial Corp don't quite fit into 19th century British society, and this book nicely contrasts that world with Chinese society, where dragons are very nearly on equal footing with humanity. Also, sea monsters!
I wish Novik would develop some faults in her protagonists, though, and introduce some stronger secondary characters. As it is, Temeraire and Lawrence only suffer from excessive virtues, like over-curiosity and loyalty to a fault. Just a handful of penchants and peccadilloes would make them a little less wooden. Cool secondary cast members like Harcourt and Berkley are mostly absent from this book. Hammond was decent, as was Liu Bao, and even the laconic Yonxing had some interesting potential, given his irrational pride, scheming, and clear devotion to Lien.
Not terrible. I thought the art was actually better than the Clan Building series. I also had way lower expectations, given that I had no emotional at...moreNot terrible. I thought the art was actually better than the Clan Building series. I also had way lower expectations, given that I had no emotional attachment to any of the characters, all of whom were one-off or somewhat recurring villains from the show.(less)
I wasn't really expecting much given the relative disappointment of the first volume, but I just re-watched the series (again), and was in need of a f...moreI wasn't really expecting much given the relative disappointment of the first volume, but I just re-watched the series (again), and was in need of a fix. Probably the most annoying thing about this one was the inane time shifting. Jumping forward and backward in time in every single panel is just jarring, and after a few pages (!) of this, I just began ignoring the time stamps. Telling the story from multiple different perspective is fine, and leads to the nice simultaneous climaxes (that sounds wrong) for each thread, but the constant jumping was way too much.
This volume also felt like a giant exercise in fan service. Almost every character with a direct relationship to the Manhattan clan shows up, mostly for no reason at all. What the hell were the Coldstone trio doing there? Macbeth seemed entirely inconsequential aside from being a means to get Lex & Hudson to London. And suddenly there are like a billion gargoyles in London? What the hell?
The many stories about the Stone of Destiny were interesting, and the beginning of Brooklyn's Timedancer storyline was actually pretty well done (though cheesy Star Wars cover? please). I think the whole thing might not have been that bad if it were slowed down and thinned out. I think it should have been about 4 times as long. And drawn by Wendy Pini.
Definitely would not recommend this to any but the most tragically addicted and/or nostalgic fans of the series, who, like me, just want to hang out with Goliath, Elisa, and the clan just a little longer.(less)
Dang, that was fun. If you enjoy Patrick O'Brian, are not averse to the fantastic, and are looking for a quick, fun read, please overlook the corny co...moreDang, that was fun. If you enjoy Patrick O'Brian, are not averse to the fantastic, and are looking for a quick, fun read, please overlook the corny cover and check this out. Though perhaps not as funny or as brilliantly wordy as O'Brian at his best, Novik does an excellent job illustrating the details of a remote time and lifestyle, exploring not only technical details of gear and rigging, but also the social constraints of being an "aviator." Riders bond with their dragon for life, which essentially removes them from normal British society and leaves the entire Aerial Corps a pack of pariahs, which, of course, makes for a fun secret-society-style tale in which a naval officer unexpectedly finds himself saddled with a dragon buddy of his own. Novik also uses this distance to inject some modern notions (brash, cigar-smoking female aviators, undercurrents of civil rights for the sentient but enslaved dragons), which feels a bit overhanded at times, but mostly works. I mean, it's a fantasy novel. With dragons. One can hardly fault it for lapses in historical accuracy.
I think it's hilarious that a lot of the negative reviews here complain about nothing really happening. That's the most O'Brianesque thing about this book!
Great fun, certainly on par with the first in the series. We learn a lot more about the world and our heroes, and while "normal kid with a fantastic d...moreGreat fun, certainly on par with the first in the series. We learn a lot more about the world and our heroes, and while "normal kid with a fantastic destiny" isn't particularly original, Kibuishi's visual whimsy, humor, and artistic expertise make for a wonderful little escape. Looking forward to the next one.
Update upon re-reading in May 2011
Wow, I had forgotten most of what happened, which I guess made it even better to re-read! (view spoiler)[I thought it was cool that he added Evangelon-esque stone-consumed (stoned?) giant crazy people. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Fun, some excellent artwork, but not worth $15. I feel like in the age of the Internet comics meme, a collection of 5-page stories should have more th...moreFun, some excellent artwork, but not worth $15. I feel like in the age of the Internet comics meme, a collection of 5-page stories should have more than ~10 of them. I would love to see the Nazi Germany story expanded. That was one the few that actually touched on some mundane evil.(less)
I think this was one of that horde of YA fantasy books that swept through in the wake of Harry Potter. I see it a bit like the mirror image of Artemis...moreI think this was one of that horde of YA fantasy books that swept through in the wake of Harry Potter. I see it a bit like the mirror image of Artemis Fowl, too serious where that book was too silly. Swords and bells are definitely cool, and the magic surrounding necromancy felt pretty original, but the characters were all humorless and the plot fairly predictable. With its young heroine, animal side kick, flying contraptions, and inky death monsters, the book has all the makings of a Miyazaki film, but sadly there are too many spells and prophesies and ancient talismans for it to feel as magical as, say, a cat bus. I probably won't read the next one.(less)
This book holds together better than I remembered. The first three books contain some of the finest cartooning and the most engaging all-ages storytel...moreThis book holds together better than I remembered. The first three books contain some of the finest cartooning and the most engaging all-ages storytelling you're likely to find. I just read the first Castle Waiting a few weeks ago, and the contrast is incredible. Bone is dynamic, filled with action and emotion that imbues the characters and the artwork. Smith is also a cartoon master: he knows when and how to abstract the appearance of his characters, and his landscapes. I'm always in awe of his broad scenes, whole valleys and forests and mountain ranges suggested with fine but simple leaves and ridge lines. Amazing stuff. And the writing! Even though I knew every joke was coming I was still cracking up.
The plot is wonderful, at first, but eventually disintegrates into cascading deus ex machinas (Mim the Dragon? Crown of Horns?! Where do these things come from?). Almost the entire Rock Jaw sequence could be cut with no real loss to the story. The subtraction of excessive cutesy orphan animals would be a bonus effect. These elements seem like evidence of the author trying to stretch out his original material. I think a bit of editing could have made this unqualifiably great.
Nevertheless, the central characters are full and satisfying, and more than enough to keep you reading. Phoney's a greedy schemer, but he still loves his cousins. And he can cook! Grandma Ben's a sweet old lady who races cows, but holds some interesting secrets. Even Fone Bone, our plucky, innocent, mostly harmless protagonist has a ridiculous love-poem-writing side, and might have some unspoken inner turmoil over his Boneville-bred scientific skepticism and the clearly fantastic world of the valley. All great stuff.(less)