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Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman
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's review
May 11, 2012

liked it

This is my first experience of the Sandman series, and I would definitely read more. I feel like my graphic novel reading chops need improving; I find myself looking at the text or the pictures and need to find a more comprehensive way to attend to both. But that being said, Gaiman's sly sense of humor comes through in this book alongside a larger, darker vision. The ending of this volume is very creepy and actually reminiscent (for me, anyway) of Foucault's thesis in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison about the shift from external ideas of damnation and punishment to internalized self-regulation and the promise of the penal system to reform the subject (discipline). That was a cool if disturbing resonance of the resolution, which I won't say more about for fear of spoilers.

The dramatization of gods from multiple pantheons (Christian, Norse, Egyptian, invented, Shakespearean Fairies, etc.) is one of Gaiman's real gifts, as can be seen in American Gods and Anansi Boys. He has fun with the imaginative intermingling, the anachronistic dialogue (how would these gods express themselves in a contemporary setting and idiom?); and the power struggles. Thus, the plot of this volume (gods and demons jockeying to be the Lord of Hell because Lucifer's given it up) allows Gaiman to highlight the heightened characters and supernatural hijinks that he does best. Also, I think what Gaiman describes beautifully in Anansi Boys--the simultaneity of being a person, an animal, and an archetype or divinity--inheres in the genre here. Where better than comics to picture characters at once individually human, uncannily animal-like (Batman, Spiderman, etc.), and yet archetypal?

My favorite character was, of course, Bast, the Egyptian cat goddess. Gaiman appreciates the intrepidness and elegance of cats, as he shows elsewhere in stories and blog posts. Sometimes, the episodes within the volume felt a bit chaotic and shapeless to me, and some of the humor didn't work for me (Thor and Jemmy often fell flat for me), hence the three-star rating. I did really like the one installment that seems a total excursus set in a British boarding school that becomes haunted and hellish (perhaps, Gaiman implies, it already was) when Lucifer sets the demons and ghosts free from his realm.
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