The Sandman Vol. 6: Fables & Reflections
written by Neil Gaiman
illustrated by Bryan Talbot, Stan Woch, P. Craig Russell, Shawn McManus, John Watkiss, Jill Thompson, Duncan Eagleson, and Kent Williams
Vertigo (1999); originally published in 1993
The last time I dove into The Sandman series was when I read Volume 5 back in May of last year. As it turns out it was this volume, Fables and Reflections, that originally garnered my interest for this series, because I had seen more than one list citing this the best of the entire series and in comics period.
Like a few of the other books in the series, this is a collection of stand-alone stories rather than one long narrative. There are some winks and nods to past storylines, though.
It started off with a story called "Three Septembers and a January", with Morpheus actually saving a man's life by giving him a perpetual dream--delusion, really--of being the first and only Emporer of the United States. A bit of whimsy and a bit of tragedy really made this story a strong one out of the gate and set the bar high for the succeeding stories. "August" was an understated gem as a Roman Caesar spends a day as a pauper with his diminutive confidant guiding him through his city as he contemplates in peace over the fate of Rome without worry of the gods noticing him.
The standout of the bunch had to be "Orpheus" though, with a fantastic re-imagining of the classic fable of Orpheus and Eurydice, with Orpheus as the Sandman's only son. The story played out almost exactly how I expected it to, but it was so riveting with Gaiman's approach. From the wedding that was doomed from the start, to Orpheus' descent into Hades, I thought the whole tale was pitch perfect and the ending is probably one of the best from the entire Sandman series.
For those that have already read it, I don't really need to say anything. It's just a damned good, if not great, graphic novel. And if you haven't had the chance to read it--my god--you need to visit a comic book store or your local library and start reading this series. You won't be disappointed.