This story feels like a newly unearthed fairy tale, always familiar and always surprising.
This sequel borrows one plot element after another from Gaiman’s (Art Matters, 2018, etc.) classic Sandman graphic novels: A ruler abandons his kingdom, and new leaders try to take over the throne. And, as in the original comics, characters are always changing forms and identities. In the earlier stories, Eve (as in wife of Adam) was a sometimes-youthful and sometimes-old white woman. She’s now a short-haired black woman, adding some welcome diversity to the largely white cast. Many of the returning characters have lost their trademark characteristics: Abel (as in brother of Cain) has lost his stutter and his vulnerability. Lucien, the unfailingly competent and polite librarian, has become forgetful and—even worse—has started speaking in florid language: “For all their strange skins, every…story beats to the same haggard heart: Emptiness has replaced certainty.” The dialogue is less clever than in the original comics, and the characters are much less appealing, and there are so many of them that new readers will be utterly baffled. But many of the plot twists are genuinely startling, and Evely’s (Wonder Woman, 2018, etc.) drawings are so stunning that they not only rival the original artwork, but set a new high point for the comics medium.
This book may not live up to readers’ expectations, but diminished magic is magic nonetheless. (Graphic fantasy. 13-adult)