Current Reviews


The Sandman Presents: Thessaly, Witch for Hire #1

Posted: Thursday, February 12, 2004
By: Shawn Hill

“My Girl, or Far Too Much About Snakes”

Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Shawn McManus

Publisher: DC Vertigo

It’s a virtual retread of the previous Thessaly series. Thess is trying to live her life undisturbed in a small town. She’s got a secret no one else knows (that she’s an immortal who could rip their faces off with a thought). Her nerdish exterior belies her mystic might. She has many admirers, but none as persistent as Fetch, the ghost who’s been sending demons to attack her for months.

The setting being Italy, we get some fun cultural snippets in this issue. Not the least of which is Thess animating a statue of David to defend her from a snake demon. Willingham has fun with the Italian, translating every gorgeous sounding statement into the basest of colloquial English for us.

McManus has drawn all of her adventures, though he inks himself here with a heavy hand. He’s one of those cartoonish illustrators with a surprising flare for the macabre, and his work is almost as good as Tara McPherson’s charming cover.

In the previous series Thess went digging through some fairy tales and myths at Fetch’s bidding. That adventure was itself a kind of retelling of her first appearance in Sandman, where Gaiman had her confront a Cuckoo that had taken up residence in one girl’s dream of herself as Princess Barbie. Thess is a rather brackish, down to Earth sort of girlish ancient broad. Though she doesn’t look like much, she’s tough as nails, and completely willing to sacrifice anyone and anything to maintain her own existence and safety. She never takes a threat lightly.

Which makes her perfect for Fetch’s plan to give her an actual vocation: demon hunter. There’s several shades of Angel and Buffy all over this series, actually, which I suppose makes Thessaly a very recalcitrant and pissed off Willow. By the end of the issue, Thess has dealt rather firmly with her problematic admirer.

But you know it can’t be that easy. For this to work, she’s going to have to meet someone actually able to cause her injury, and best them nonetheless. Or at least distract them long enough to survive. Just like the last two times. Willingham is an able writer, coupling a powerful imagination with a morbid cynicism that’s just right for this character. Still, unless he comes up with some fresh angles, this latest installment could end up merely a retread.

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