Friday, November 08, 2013

In Which the Sandman Returns; and Matters of Interest to Lunatics Are Discussed.

As I’m sure is true for almost any comic book fan of any longevity, I responded to news of a new Sandman series, with unfettered delight. No “Before Watchmen” this, no ghoulish exhumation of a completed story best left to rest (although that turned out better than anyone could have hoped for, I think). Nor did we need to expect comparisons to an aging rocker, hoarsely belting out classic hits to middle aged moms and dads reliving their youths. For this Sandman series would be penned by its original creator, Neil Gaiman, who by all appearances is at the height of his powers, having continued to produce quality work consistently since the tale of Dream of the Endless first ensured Gaiman's place among the Pantheon of Comic Book Gods such as Moore and Miller twenty-five years ago. We have every reason to expect that this new Sandman series will be everything we could have hoped for.

Having just read issue number one of The Sandman: Overture, I feel confident in saying no one will be disappointed. The story picks up just where the original series left off… and just where it began, in true Endless fashion. All our favorites seem to be in play, including Death, the Corinthian, and of course, Morpheus himself.

No spoilers here, I’ll only say the story opens with a reminder that there are truly infinite worlds and infinite stories to tell, and the first chapter closes by reinforcing that fact in what may be described as a fairly staggering way. Although I didn't do this myself, too eager to get to the new story, I suspect an evening or two dedicated to re-reading the original series in its entirety before digging into this fresh tale will be quite rewarding. In any event, if you are a fan of comic books, Gaiman, or literature, there’s no question this series is not to be missed.

While picking up Sandman, I also stumbled upon the latest offering by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn, entitled simply, as is the Luna wont, “Alex + Ada.”  Luna, of Luna Brothers fame, has been co-creator of such unforgettable works as Girls and The Sword, and his artistic style has a kind of haunting realism that is perfect for the type of stories he chooses to tell. “Alex + Ada” is no exception in this regard. The premise is hardly original; it’s probably one of the most classic science fiction tales: In a world where technology has advanced to the level where Artificial Intelligence and robotics are the order of the day, a lonely soul is presented with a robot clearly designed for companionship purposes and all that implies.

Although the scenario is familiar, there is something about Luna and Vaughn’s approach to the story that makes it feel entirely new. There’s that artwork of course, and hauntingly lifelike is naturally perfect for a story about android love. There’s the fact that Alex, although pining away for his lost girlfriend Claire and seemingly despondent, is an unwilling participant in the experiment, his robot having been a gift from a wealthy and well-meaning grandmother. There’s also a foreboding sense of doom foreshadowed by a news report of Artificial Intelligence run amok with disastrous consequences a year before. Little is revealed in the first issue, but it’s more than enough to have you wanting to learn more about Alex, his strong connections to the technology that no longer seems that far beyond our own, and what his relationship with his new potential robot paramour will be.

In my estimation, if you’re looking to get into comics, back into comics, or just add two new quality books to your lineup, these two are a great place to start.

No comments: