Friday, March 8, 2013

[BOOK REVIEW] The Sandman: Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman

Title: The Sandman: Endless Nights

Author: Neil Gaiman

Artists: Glenn Fabry, Milo Manara, Miguelanxo Prado, Frank Quitely, P. Craig Russell, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Barron Storey

Genre: Fantasy / Horror

Year Published: 2003

Year Read: 2013

Series: The Sandman #12

Publisher: Vertigo Comics

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 16+ (Gory Violence and Strong Language)

After reading almost all of Neil Gaiman’s fantastic run on the “Sandman” series (to the point where I called the year 2012 “The Year of the Sandman” since I had spent the year reading the Sandman comics), I wanted to read Neil Gaiman’s latest story on the “Sandman” series, “The Sandman: Endless Nights,” even though “The Sandman: The Wake” was actually considered the final story arc in the “Sandman” series.  “The Sandman: Endless Nights,” which is also a Bram Stoker Award winner and a Locus Award winner, is a fantastic series for any newcomer who wants to learn more about the Endless characters!

This volume is basically detailing seven chapters that deal with the seven siblings of the Endless and how they meet up with several unsuspecting characters in their stories.  The chapters are as follow:

Chapter 1: Death: Death and Venice – artwork by P. Craig Russell
Chapter 2: Desire: What I’ve Tasted of Desire – artwork by Milo Manara
Chapter 3: Dream: The Heart of a Star – artwork by Miguelanxo Prado
Chapter 4: Despair: Fifteen Portraits of Despair – artwork by Barron Storey with designs by Dave McKean
Chapter 5: Delirium: Going Inside – artwork by Bill Sienkiewicz
Chapter 6: Destruction: On the Peninsula – artwork by Glenn Fabry
Chapter 7: Destiny: Endless Nights – artwork by Frank Quitely

For the past few volumes of the “Sandman” series, we were able to really get deep into the dark and mysterious world of Morpheus, better known as Dream of the Endless.  Now, we finally have a volume that is dedicated to all of the siblings from the Endless, most notably Death, Dream’s older sister, Delirium, the youngest sister and Destruction, the brother who left the Endless family over four hundred years ago.  Neil Gaiman has done a brilliant job at writing this volume as we actually get a closer look at not just Dream, but his siblings and I loved the way that Neil Gaiman explored each Endless character in deep detail.  Probably my favorite stories in this volume were “Death and Venice,” “What I’ve Tasted of Desire,” “The Heart of a Star,” and “On the Peninsula” as these stories had the most interesting storylines and really delved into the minds of the characters being presented. Neil Gaiman’s introduction in this volume was probably the best introduction I had read out of any graphic novel (although, I do not normally read the introductions in graphic novels since I easily get bored reading them). Neil Gaiman clearly explains to the readers about why he wrote this volume after his nine year run on the “Sandman” series and it was interesting that Neil Gaiman wanted to do this volume because he wanted to work with different artists while still telling more stories about the Endless.  The artwork in this volume, as with the previous volumes, are extremely well done as there are many different artists working on this volume and they include Glenn Fabry, Milo Manara, Miguelanxo Prado, Frank Quitely, P. Craig Russell, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Barron Storey.  Probably my favorite artworks in this volume were done by P. Craig Russell, Milo Manara and Glenn Fabry.  P. Craig Russell’s artwork in “Death and Venice” was extremely well done as the characters look slightly cartoonish, but still have a realistic touch to the characters’ appearances and I loved the way that the colors are done brightly which makes the artwork pleasing to see.  Milo Manara’s artwork in “What I’ve Tasted of Desire” has a brilliant Renaissance Era vibe as the characters are realistic looking and the paintings flow well with the artwork.  Glenn Fabry’s artwork in “On the Peninsula” is truly beautiful as the characters have realistic facial expressions and the environment of the peninsula is amazing to look at.

The reason why I took off half a star is because some of the stories were a bit confusing to read through.  Probably the stories I had the most problems reading through were Delirium’s story “Going Inside” and Despair’s story “Fifteen Portraits of Despair” as the narratives were too complicated to understand since it seems like the stories were being told from a point of view of a crazed mind (although Delirium’s story makes so much sense based on her character).  Also, for anyone who does not like violence and language, this volume does have some gory violence and strong language, although the violence is not as strong in this volume as it was in previous volumes.

Overall, “The Sandman: Endless Nights” is a fantastic book for fans of the “Sandman” series!  Even though “The Sandman: The Wake” is often considered the final volume in the “Sandman” series, this volume is sometimes considered the final volume of the “Sandman” series, even though any new reader to the “Sandman” series can read this to gain a better understanding of the “Sandman” characters as a whole.

* 2003 Bram Stoker Award for Best Illustrated Narrative
* 2004 Locus Award for Best Art Book
* 2004 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for Best Short Story ("Death"), Best Anthology

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