In the thirty-eighth issue of The Sandman, a young man seeks the daughter of a Duke, but is intercepted by numerous parties, including Dream’s librarian, Lucien. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Sandman.
I’ve really nothing like this book, and I’ve certainly never had an experience even remotely similar to this with any comic book or graphic novel I’ve ever read. The subject matter is a part of that, yeah, because I don’t often get to see comic books that look like this. But the way this volume is organized and collected is just goddamn brilliant, and I never thought that I’d enjoy a story told out of order so much. (Out of order in terms of publication issue, I mean.)
But one of my favorite things about Neil Gaiman is his appreciation for a good story. That’s the basis of American Gods, but it’s even more important here. It’s now impossible for me to read “The Hunt” without thinking of The Princess Bride, and there’s a wonderful commentary on tradition and legend through this device. There’s a danger in viewing things from long ago through a modern lens, especially since it no longer matches up to our own moral codes and systems. But what I got out of “The Hunt” was that it’s irrelevant whether the person telling the story is being entirely truthful. I love that the grandfather insists, “Only trust the story.”
“The Hunt” is remarkably subtle, and the medium it’s told in makes that a difficult thing to pull off. Obviously, since a graphic novel is largely visual, I was so impressed at how well Gaiman and the artists were able to hide the werewolf reveal. In fact, going back over this issue a second and third time, I can see very small hints that The People always referred to werewolves. On page 85 in particular, as the man looks upon the dear he is chasing, there’s a small panel of his face, and I could swear he looks like he’s about to transform. It also helps explain how the Romany traveler and the innkeeper died. The man held this secret the whole time, only choosing to reveal it when he needed to survive. AND THEN THERE IS THAT BRILLIANT REVEAL THAT THE MAN WANTED TO SEE NATASHA BECAUSE SHE WAS A WEREWOLF THE WHOLE TIME, TOO. Oh god, and then the grandfather makes that mysterious comment about his wife and chasing a deer, and I just LOVE this goddamn story.
It was also nice to see Lucien out of the Dream world! It’s the first time this has ever happened. I wasn’t at all surprised that it was a book that got him out into our world. And oh shit, it was Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus. That’s not the first reference to Faust in this graphic novel. Is that a hint towards a future storyline? PLEASE LET DREAM EXPLORE FAUST. That would rule!
Anyway, I thought this was another rad one-off. MORE FAIRYTALES, PLEASE. Hell, I’d like one solely about Baba-Yaga, to be honest.
Mark Links Stuff
– You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook for any updates and live commentary on upcoming reviews I’m writing.
– If you’d like to support what I’m doing, you can click the little Donate button in the right sidebar, buy eBooks on MarkDoesStuff, or purchase physical books on Lulu.com.
– Mark Watches Doctor Who: Series 1 is now available for purchase for just $3.99!!!
– The second volume of Mark Tells Stories, “Race,” is now out and available for just $1.00!
– You can purchase your very own Mark Reads video for just $25, and I will read ANYTHING you want.
– Mark Reads is now on YouTube, and you can watch all my videos right here!