Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Graphic Novels Edition, Vol. 2

Last week when my computer was down, I finished up a couple of
graphic novels. Since I couldn't decide which series I liked better, I decided just to continue with BOTH series!!

The first book was The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House by Neil Gaiman (256 pgs, Vertigo, 1991). If there was one word to describe this book, it would be: Disturbing.

In the beginning.....But of course, we never see the beginning. We come in in the middle, after the lights have gone down, and try to make some sense of the story so far. Whisper to our neighbors, 'Who's he? Who's she? Have they met each other before?" We get by.

Volume 2 opens up with the final chapter of Volume 1 where Dream is talking to his sister, Death. But this book is less about Dreams and more about Nightmares than before. We meet another one of Dreams siblings: Desire. It seems his younger sibling is trying to play games - games that could have fatal consequences.

We also meet Rose Walker. Granddaughter of Unity Kincaid (the woman from Vol. 1 that was raped while suffering from the sleeping sickness), Rose is on a quest to find her younger brother, Jed. Jed hasn't been seen in years, since he was left in the custody of his father. And he's in trouble now. But Rose is also a Dream Vortex....one with the ability to merge the dreams of others. It's an incredible power because she can draw dreams and nightmares to herself. If this happens, it could cause the Dream world to collapse upon itself.

But the main premise of this book, as I said before, are nightmares. While Dream was imprisoned, several major players in the Dream World escaped: Fiddler's Green, and 3 Nightmares: Brute and Glob, and The Corinthian. Dream must find them and bring them back.

First of all, I LOVE this series. I love Neil Gaiman. And I love the fantastic drawings that are tucked away in this book. But know for sure that this volume is exceedingly disturbing. Not the stuff of pleasant and safe dreams, this is one that deals with child abuse, rape and serial killers. Truly the subjects of nightmares. A "Cereal" Convention takes place: a gathering of the world's most prolific serial killers, all trying to learn from each other. They even set up panel discussions!! With special guest, The Corinthian, these are the worst and darkest of all things that make up the human condition.

You disappoint me, Corinthian. You, and these humans you inspired and created disappoint me. YOU were supposed to be my masterpiece, or so I thought. A nightmare created to be the darkness and the fear of darkness in every heart. A black mirror, made to reflect everything about itself that humanity will not confront. But look at you. Forty years walking the earth, honing yourself, infecting others with your joy of death and what have you given them? Nothing. What have your wrought, Corinthian? Just something else for people to be scared of, that's all.

Gaiman looks at the blackest side of the human heart in The Doll's House. He truly has a gift of insight into the human psyche. And he knows what makes people scared. Although the volume ends well, most of this book is dark and scary. As I said before, it is deeply disturbing. But it is also a fantastic read!! Most definitely a classic as far as graphic novels are concerned and well deserving of a 5-star review!! 5/5

The second Graphic Novel series that I am reading is Fables. Fables Volume 2: The Animal Farm by Bill Willingham (128 pgs, Vertigo, 2003) is the next in line.

Yes, it's "Once Upon a Time" time again!

As we know from the first volume, the Fables have been exiled from their lands. The fables that are able to live in New York City amongst the "mundy's" or mundanes, as they Fables like to call the humans. But there are some Fables that are not able to live easily among the humans. Talking animals, giants, and dragons....just to name a few. So these Fables are relegated to live on the Animal Farm, or just The Farm. It is a compound that allows them a place to roam without the wandering eyes of the mundanes.

In Volume 2, Snow White decides to take her bi-annual visit to the Farm a little early to spend some quality time with her sister, Rose Red. Snow is hoping to be able to mend some fences with her. But when they arrive, things are not quite the way they are supposed to be. The girls stumble upon a meeting of the residents. Dun and Posey (part of the 3 little pigs) tell Snow that the caretaker of the Farm, Weyland Smith, has resigned....just walked off. The pigs are now in charge. Snow and Red are tired, and decide to figure it all out in the morning.

But when they wake up, they are surprised by the vicious murder of Colin the pig and the phone lines are down. Things are not as they are supposed to be at The Farm, and it's up to Snow White to figure out what's going on.

This series is just so much fun! With a page from Orwell's Animal Farm, there is a revolution on the rise, and the animals are arming themselves. With a frighteningly militant leader in Goldilocks, the animals are trying to re-take their homelands. I know this is only the second book in the series, but I love it already!! Sometimes you can tell by just a few pages whether or not you are going to love a book or not. The same goes with this series. It's nothing new to put a spin on an old fairy tale. But Willingham really creates fresh ideas with this series. And even though they are "fairy tales", the underlying darkness is always there. Nothing is as you would expect it. I mean, come on: Goldilocks is a radical militant, who is sleeping with Baby Bear; Snow White is hot and heavy (though she won't admit it!) over the Big Bad Wolf; and there is more fire power coming from the old lady in the shoe and her many kids than most small countries!

The message is a bit political, but the story is bold and fantastic. The pictures are beautiful, and I can't wait to start the next book in the series. On a side note, I see that ABC is going to make a series out the graphic novels. I'm dying to see a cast list!!! 4.5/5


Debi said...

A TV series made from Fables? Wow...that could be awesomely cool if done right! And I'm with you, I can't decide which of these two series I like more. Or as I said last time I reviewed one, my favorite is whichever I happen to be reading at the time.

I loved the "cereal" killer convention! Though I think I was more amused than disturbed by it. (Not sure what that says about me.) I've only read the first five in The Sandman, but I think so far, Dolls House and A Game of You are my favorites.

Great reviews, Stephanie!

Nymeth said...

I'm glad you're continuing to enjoy these, Steph :D I like Sandman a bit more, but I really love them both. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they don't make a huge mess out of the Fables mini-series. It really could be awesome if done right...IF :P

Chris said...

I'm so glad that you're continuing to enjoy these Steph!! I love them both...I actually have The Doll's House out from the library right now...I must read it! I loved the serial killer convention. One of my fav stories.

Kim L said...

Yeah, I could never decide between those two series. I just recently finished both, and believe me, they both only get better! Glad you're liking them so much. I heart Bigby :-)

Rhinoa said...

Thanks for the reminder that I need to catch up on both of these series! I hope they do make Fables into a TV series and do a good job of it.

Carl V. said...

Two super great graphic novel reading experiences! Wow!

You're right, that volume of Sandman is indeed very disturbing. Very! The entire story is so good, though. I cannot wait until you finish it and yet don't wish that bittersweet "No, its over!" feeling on you at all.

Fables is consistently fun and well done and I'm glad you are reading it as well.