Midnight Days

By Neil Gaiman

Rating: 4 stars

This graphic novel collects six of Neil Gaiman’s early comics work for DC. Of the six stories in the collection, there are three that are from different aspects of Swamp Thing, one Hellblazer, one Sandman and a little framing story for another collection.

I’m not hugely familiar with Swamp Thing so I perhaps didn’t get as much out of those stories as someone more familiar with the mythos. The first, Jack in the Green shows a Swamp Thing somewhere in England when the Black Death is sweeping the land as he tends to a dying friend. Even without knowing much about about the character or history, you can relate to that. The second Brothers is an odd little story that does rely more on DC/Swamp Thing continuity, telling the story of a living puppet who falls to earth from a satellite. Even without knowing the history though, there’s enough human stories – with hippy Chester and his damaged partner Liz; and with bitter government agent Gideon Endor – to hold interest. Shaggy God Stories on the other hand, seems to be an interlude between two big stories and I don’t think I got an awful lot out of it.

Moving away from Swamp Thing, the next story in the collection Hold Me which is a touching Hellblazer story, where John Constantine encounters a dead man who just wants someone to, well, hold him. The penultimate story, Sandman Midnight Theatre sees the single meeting between Dream of the Endless and Wesley Dodds, another character to bear the name ‘Sandman’. Set on the eve of WW2, Wesley Dodds is drawn to England after the suicide of an old friend, and finds himself investigating the Order of Ancient Mysteries, who still hold Morpheus in a glass box. The collection is finished off with a little framing story for a horror anthology called Welcome Back to the House of Mystery featuring the Cain and Abel who live in the Dreaming. Very much more cartoony in tone than the rest of the book, it’s an odd choice to finish the volume, but not necessarily an inappropriate one.

The art throughout is lovely, Gaiman can always find good artists to work with him; the painted, appropriately dreamlike, art for Sandman Midnight Theatre especially drew my eye. A lot of this is fairly early work by Gaiman so it isn’t always the most polished, but it all has heart and the storytelling confidence that marks his work. Even if you’re not familiar with the characters within, the stories are (mostly) able to hold their own.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401265014
Publisher: DC Comics
Year of publication: 2000

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