Endless Nights Review – Washington Post.

James Rosen reported the following Endless Nights review in the October 19th Washington Post:

Despair, Neil Gaiman writes in The Sandman: Endless Nights (Vertigo/DC, $24.95), “is a writer with nothing left that he knows how to say. It is an artist, and fingers that will never catch the vision.” If that’s true, then Gaiman and the team of top-flight illustrators who breathe visual life into his ethereal ruminations on the seven Ds — Death, Desire, Delirium, Destruction, Destiny, Dream and, yes, Despair — know nothing of Despondence.

Yet sadness suffuses Gaiman’s return to the dark, groundbreaking Sandman series he authored for DC Comics from 1987 to 1998. Although reviewers received advance copies of only three of Endless Nights’ seven projected stories — one of them only partially inked and colored, leaving a rare glimpse at Miguelanxo Prado’s unadorned, exquisite pencil work — the results augur Gaiman’s triumphant return to form.

In the interpretation of “Dream,” wherein a mortal meets the family of her immortal lover and finds a new flame, Prado’s Disneyesque delicacy — his Lady Killalla recalls Snow White — betters Gaiman’s abstruse prose. Illustrating Gaiman’s “Death,” P. Craig Russell brings a capable if uninspiring comic book style (reminiscent of Curt Swan, Superman’s longtime and least exciting exponent) to the intertwined stories of a decadent 18th-century Italian count and a latter-day army assassin troubled by a childhood experience outside the count’s desiccated palazzo.

The true standout here is “Despair,” broken down into 15 disjointed meditations by, among others, a crippled ranch hand who spends his disability checks on cat food before suffocating 70 tabbies in his trailer; a TV personality’s dejected gay lover, doomed to sporadic trysts in outskirt hotels; and a man who murders his female companion and waits to be arrested at home, “the sound of the sirens coming closer.” Most timely is Gaiman’s alcoholic Father Dermot Byrne, purged from his diocese after a long-gone female student suddenly accuses him of molestation. What would Jesus do? Dermot asks the bishop’s aide. “If he had to deal with the insurance companies,” the aide replies, “he’d probably hang you out to dry, same as the rest of us.”

What makes Gaiman’s “Despair” so haunting is the disturbed quality of the author’s vignettes — oscillating between courthouse cogency and madhouse incoherence — and Barron Storey’s phenomenal artwork. Storey commands multiple styles to render human misery: pencil, charcoal, watercolors, humanistic and geometric, the kind of works Amnesty International exhibits as evidence of mental and physical torture, with the same scary impact. Rest assured, the Sandman is back — and he will rob you of sleep, not deliver it!

There was also a more mixed Endless Nights review in this week’s Time Out New York, which I’m in process of tracking down.