8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2013
The Kindly Ones, three powerful beings also known as the Furies. They have the power to even harm the Endless, if they should be summoned to do so by a mortal with a just grievance...and if that member of the Endless has spilled the blood of one of their own family. When Lyta Hall's young son Daniel goes missing, she blames Dream and calls upon the Kindly Ones for aid. When they agree - for Dream has the blood of his own son on his hands - a sequence of events is set in motion which will profoundly change everything.
The Kindly Ones is the ninth of the Sandman graphic novels and is also the largest. It is a sustained storyline, originally published across thirteen issues of the title's original comics run. It was also deliberately written by Neil Gaiman to be read as a single graphic novel, a decision that provoked the ire of some readers of the comic who felt that many of the individual issues failed to satisfy when taken on their own merits. However, read as a single story it becomes clear that The Kindly Ones may be the strongest of The Sandman's long storylines.
The Kindly Ones takes no prisoners. Previously, Gaiman was careful to reintroduce older characters in a way that newer readers would still be able to follow and enjoy what was going on. He has no truck with that here, instead pulling together dozens of characters and narrative strands from earlier issues and collections. These storylines include: the aftermath of Dream's slaying of his son Orpheus, Delirium's acquisition of a talking dog named Barnabas; the saga of Lyta Hall and her infant son Daniel; the relationship between Dream and the witch Thessaly; the retirement of Lucifer as Lord of Hell and his vow to destroy Dream; Desire's long-standing ire with his/her brother; the adventures of the faerie lord Cluracan and his sister Nuala; the resurrection of the Corinthian; the misadventures of Rose Walker; and numerous subplots involving the inhabitants of the Dreaming, including Cain and Abel, the raven Matthew, the librarian Lucien and handyman Mervyn. It's a challenging juggling act which Gaiman pulls off with skill, by drawing the various narratives together in often surprising ways. The story also revisits the very beginnings of The Sandman, with the manor house where Dream spent seventy years imprisoned figuring prominently.
As well being a feast for continuity lovers, the collection also delivers its own thematic arc: this is a Greek tragedy, pure and simple. Events build slowly and with growing intensity towards an ending that is not actually that inevitable, but only becomes so when the Sandman refuses to allow himself to deviate from what he sees as his own responsibilities and obligations. A key theme referred to throughout the comics, but much more prevalent here, is that the Sandman used to be far too rigid for his own good, but has changed since his imprisonment by humans. The Kindly Ones shows how far he has changed...and how far he has to go. As a result, The Kindly Ones offers the most insight into the character of Dream himself, even when he is not actually on the page. Other characters are also well-served, with even minor players from earlier issues getting moments to shine.
The art style in the collection has attracted a lot comment. It's an interesting choice, giving the largest and most coherent Sandman storyline the most stylised and perhaps 'weird' art style in the history of the series. The juxtaposition of the heavy drama and odd art style actually works well, with the art tying in well with the more oddball moments of the story (such as Cluracan giving birth to his own nemesis).
The Kindly Ones (*****) is Neil Gaiman at the top of his game, delivering the rich and powerful climax (though not the conclusion) that The Sandman deserves. The collection is available now in the UK and USA, and as part of The Absolute Sandman, Volume IV (UK, USA).
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2012
I love the way the new editions look, I compared the new and old editions and the new looks much more pleasing to the eye. Every Sandman fan should upgrade, you won't be sorry.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2013
Wow. The artwork in this installment was unbelievable! Dream has always been an incredibly-intense character, but he was especially evocative in this book. I especially liked how Gaiman brought back several characters from the previous installments - even ones from early on in the series - and tied them all together at the end. The particular focus on Matthew was also a nice touch. I've always enjoyed the little raven, and his loyalty to Dream was quite touching.
This was - by far -the best installment of the series.
on March 17, 2015
As a comic book fan I know most people probably imagine the world of comics as being about super heroes or Sunday Funnies. But, the comic medium is worthy of so much more.
Sandman is that "much more". The story is excellent, and is wonderfully executed. You're going to want to get all of these at once, because they can't be put down.
If you're already a comic book fan, you've likely heard of Sandman. So what are you waiting for? Read this already!
If you aren't already a comic book fan, maybe it's time to give it a chance. If any story is going to change your mind about the possibilities of this art form, this is the one.
on April 20, 2015
Love this series! I'm a regular adult in his 40's with a post-graduate education and good career, and I have to say that I like the creativity and style of the Sandman series better than most novels I read. Graphic novels like these legitimize the medium, and give me ammo to fight my "literati" friends with their damned Emerson or Kerouac. I've read that garbage, and frankly wasn't impressed. This series really impressed me.
on September 10, 2014
In a series I love, this is one of my least favorite volumes. Maybe it's because it has a feeling of trying to gather up all the elements of an amazingly diffuse story. Maybe it's because I just wasn't crazy about Hippolyta's storyline. And I just didn't like the art all that much.
Still highly recommend the series, this just isn't one of my favorite volumes.