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Another great chapter in the Sandman series. World's End is the place that gathers people from other worlds when a reality storm is raging. Charlene and Brant have found their way there after getting involved in an accident. They sit with the people in the pub telling stories to pass the time. I loved the story told by the fae. Another favorite was the one told to Brant. The story definitely had a Christ-like hero. I think my favorite was the sea adventure story by the girl pretending to be a boy. I have loved my first journey through the Sandman series. I will probably start back at the first once I read the last. Hats off to Neil Gaiman an incredible storyteller.
World’s end is a collection of six main stories craftily framing other stories within themselves. Each story has a different illustrator and visual style and they are only loosely related to the main Sandman story. Rather, they focus on the nature of reality, power, life and death. They are great to read on their own and strike as pure literature transposed into the comic book medium.
Imagine if the "Canterbury Tales" were told not by ordinary people on a pilgrimage, but magical beings in an otherworldly inn. That is the framing device for Neil Gaiman's eighth collection of Sandman comics, "World's End." Morpheus and the Endless have only small parts to play in this story, but it's enough to link together the assorted short stories -- and through it all, Gaiman conjures a sense of wonder and fear.
On a snowy night, a strange beast causes a car crash. Brant manages to carry his coworker Charlene to a nearby inn known as the World's End. It's probably a good thing that Brant seems slightly concussed, because inside are things he probably doesn't think are real -- gods, centaurs, faeries and other weird things that have also taken shelter.
To pass the time, they tell stories -- stories of slumbering cities; the Cluracan's clash with a vile psychopomp in a dying city; a cabin-boy glimpsing the strange mysteries of the sea; Prez Rickard, the greatest president in history; of the necropolis of Letharge; and of the mysteries that dwell inside and outside the inn...
One of Neil Gaiman's greatest skills is to make you see the terrifying, wondrous possibilities of fantasy -- of many worlds like apples on a tree, vast godlike entities walking through a starry sky, and forces so alien and powerful that it makes the spirit quake. Despite the Chauceresque setup of "World's End," these possibilities swim just under the surface.
So you don't see EVERYTHING in the World's End. It's all mirrors and smoke, shadows and flames -- and when you catch a glimpse, you KNOW that there's more to it. But you'll never be the same again.
But even if you take the stories on their own, they're pretty entertaining tales -- some are set in our world, while others are in weird places like the necropolis. There's a lot of weird macabre humor (the drunken Cluracan manages to be both scary AND funny) interspersed with the stories, and the human characters get intertwined with the World's End themselves by the volume's finale.
Morpheus only pops up a few times (mostly to rescue the main characters and pop back out), so a lot of the emphasis is on the people gathered at the inn. Some are frightening, some are comforting, some are weird, and some... are just drunk. The most disappointing part of this collection is the fact that you know there are more stories there, still not told. (Come on, how about that inkeeper?!)
"The Sandman Volume 8: World's End" is a brief stopover before the Sandman series' grand finale, reminding us of the beautiful, terrible world it inhabits.