Welcome all to our initial monthly review column that covers all things Sandman Universe. So let’s step into the House of Whispers, kick back with a Book of Magic, and get to Dreaming with Lucifer while we review the five titles that came out this month.
The Dreaming #18
(w) Si Spurrier (a) Marguerite Sauvage
With only two issues remaining until its still surprising finale, Si Spurrier’s task of wrapping of the series’ open plot threads sees an earnest effort, resolving part of Dora’s mystery as well as resolving the conflicts of biblical rivals (and siblings) Cain and Abel. However, there appears to be bigger plot threads established for the originally planned hand-off to writer G. Willow Wilson. What comes of it is yet to be seen, but it is evident that The Dreaming #18 was clearly written with continued adventures in mind. While the sense of impending finality does color the overall mood of this issue, it does not detract from Marguerite Sauvage’s beautiful artistry. Her work is certainly befitting a series with this name – dreamlike and serine.
House of Whispers #18
(w) Nalo Hopkinson, Dan Watters (a) Dominike “Domo” Stanton (c) Zac Atkinson
Nalo Hopkinson’s approach to House of Whispers has largely shown how the world of magic has impacted the regular people in this world, which has lead to overall inconsistency. The good news, is that means there are some issues that are fantastic. Unfortunately, that means some issues… not so much. This one falls somewhere in the middle. Hopkinson spends so much time on new characters, and so little on Erzulie’s story, that it makes it difficult for readers to invest in either. It does not help that Domo Stanton’s art suffers the same inconsistencies, looking great on one page and less so on others.
(w) Dan Watters (a) Sebastian Fiumara (c) Dave McCaig
With this Hunted God arc, Dan Watters brings Lucifer closer towards what Tom Ellis is doing on the Fox/Netflix show. But unlike past efforts, Lucifer here still feels like the character Neil Gaiman created and Mike Carey perfected. His interactions with the Hunted God, a middle-aged woman named Beverly, are equally entertaining and calculated. Watters script does a great job of keeping Lucifer’s motivations hidden, even when everyone else’s are overt. The same can be said for Fiumara’s art, who keeps Lucifer stoic – save for one moment when the fate of Hercules is unveiled. However, the issues is unevenly paced thanks to exposition-heavy segues into the hunters and the history of this tradition. But in the end, Lucifer #17 does enough to keep readers invested in what happens next.
Books of Magic #17
(w) Kat Howard (a) Tom Fowler (c) Marissa Louise
Books of Magic has been relatively inconsistent due in part to the enduring legacy of the original miniseries of the same name. However, Kat Howard and Tom Fowler’s decompressed storytelling continues to serve as a strength, as with issue #17 the creators appear to have a tighter, more focused grasp of the story they are attempting to tell. Tim Hunter’s battle against his evil doppelganger takes an unexpected turn. It is easily the best executed twist of this series thus far. Fowler’s art is fantastic in establishing the mood for the issue not only through shading and colors (the latter courtesy of Marissa Louise), but also through the dynamic movements and body language of the characters.
John Constantine: Hellblazer #4
(w) Si Spurrier (a) Matias Bergara (c) Jordie Bellaire
It’s genuinely incredible how quickly this series has become the crown jewel of the Sandman Universe imprint. Look no further than the colors of Jordie Bellaire, who delivers Eisner-worthy work in this issue in bringing to live Matias Bergara’s dynamic pencils and inks. Throughout the issue, Si Spurrier’s writing reads almost like a parody of a Constantine story, mostly due to the overall lighthearted nature of the story. Everything casual readers think of John Constantine is on display here. He’s vain, arrogant, and abrasive. But he’s also willing to hear out Tommy – new character who comes into his orbit. Spurrier also uses this issue to flesh out the relationships between John and his new “team”, specifically Vestibulan and Noah. However, a dark turn towards the end reveals the fun to be a facade. John Constantine: Hellblazer #4 is a masterful subversion of expectations that manages to honor the Hellblazer tradition.