Sandman Presents: The Furies
by Mike Carey, John Bolton
(DC/Vertigo, 2002)

Neil Gaiman left some pretty big shoes to fill when he left the comic-book writing field to devote himself to writing novels (like the excellent Neverwhere, Coraline and American Gods). Thankfully, there is plenty of talent to go around, and DC snagged a winner in Mike Carey, the writer for the critically acclaimed DC Comics series and graphic novel Lucifer. Letterer Todd Klein from The Sandman series makes a welcome appearance, as does artist John Bolton, who illustrated Gaiman's graphic novel adaptation of Harlequin Valentine.

Carey's deep love for Greek tragedy shines through in his take on the return of Cronus, the father and brother of the more well-known version of the Greek pantheon. He's still steamed up about his unjust fate, even after thousands of years, and is determined to seek revenge. His plan involves Lyta Hall, last seen at the end of The Sandman, who is still grieving the loss of her son, Daniel, who is the current incarnation of Dream. Her fate and Cronus's are intertwined, since both have been harshly treated (read: used) by the Furies. Cronus hopes to twist this to his advantage and gain an ally.

It's a simple but wonderfully told story of loss and redemption, with a moral in accord with the messages of ancient Greek drama: Life isn't fair, but it doesn't mean that a life of vengeance is a worthwhile existence.

Bolton's paintings are enough to make the pricey hardcover worth owning. Cronus looks exactly as he always should: a beautiful, innocent-faced Greek youth. There's a neat bit of juxtapostioning, with the image of Cronus' face from an ancient Greek vase spliced right next to Bolton's painting of Cronus as a beautiful young man, long haired and wearing a cap. It's a striking image and lends an ancient feel to the stunningly well-done story.

Lyta Hall is as beautiful and frail-looking as ever. Her pain is very palpable, still present after so many years, even though she has trouble remembering her son's face. Revenge brought her nothing. That will be the key to her survival, and Cronus's ultimate downfall. Lyta Hall finally has her happy ending, and a chapter is skillfully closed by a writer worthy of Gaiman's heritage.

- Rambles
written by Mary Harvey
published 25 January 2003

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