D.M.'s Reviews > The Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones

The Sandman, Vol. 9 by Neil Gaiman
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's review
Feb 17, 2011

really liked it
Read from February 17 to 22, 2011

This is, for most purposes, the end of the Sandman story. What follow are the denouement of The Wake, and the reprise book The Dream Hunters, so the tale pretty much reaches its climax and completion in The Kindly Ones.
It's no mystery that Dream gets his fatal (and largely self-constructed) comeuppance here at the hands of The Kindly Ones (the series' latest incarnation of the triple-goddess). We are revisited by quite a few characters whose contributions to this end have been sprinkled throughout the story, with very few new ones introduced.
Two major things jump right out at me about this book: the art and the size. This is the longest part of the series (13 issues) and it's immediately apparent in the girth of this volume. But then, a great deal needs to be accomplished in it. The art is by the underused Marc Hempel (for the most part, although Richard Case -- I think, since there are no detailed credits this time around -- makes the sexiest Rose Walker ever in a brief appearance). He's best known for his funny-ha-ha and funny-peculiar Gregory series, but has turned in a masterful pile of work here. The look of his art probably jars quite a few Sandman fans, but I see his highly stylised, cartoony technique as a way to move the characters closer to the abstraction of myth for the truly mythically-proportioned end. So, for me, it works.
What does not work here is the actual climax of the story. For a character we've loved and hated for years/volumes/issues, his end should have more emotional impact. It had none for me, though (for that, I have to wait for The Wake). The buildup over so many issues just sort of deflates rather than exploding, as I felt it should...but then I'm not master storyteller Neil Gaiman, so what do I know.
Also included in this volume is 'The Castle' with Kevin Nowlan (I think), a prologue/introduction to new readers culled from Vertigo Jam 1. Cute, but clearly here just for completion's sake.
The introduction from Frank McConnell is so forgettable, I actually had to look in the book again to find out what it was about...and who wrote it!
This is an engrossing story with a slightly disappointing end, and that's the only bit that made me hold back a star. For others, I'm sure it's a five-star effort, and that's as it should be.

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