Neil Gaiman and Matt Wagner’s Sandman Midnight Theatre (1995)

gaiman_smt_covTeddy Kristiansen’s artwork is incredible.

That’s about the only positive, and it’s a really big positive. Most of this crossover between Wagner’s Sandman and Gaiman’s more modern Sandman is hurt by being so incredibly boring. Nothing is gained, nothing’s learned by the characters. They meet, and then go back to their respective worlds.

A crossover is a tool, and can’t immediately account for a result. Sandman Midnight Theatre, unfortunately — and like most every crossover ever written — reads as if they structured the entire 60-page story around the tool. Finding something interesting to do with that tool came second to simply getting the means out there. This accounts for a threadbare 1939 mystery used to get Wagner’s Sandman to England so he can meet the more popular Sandman — at this point, held prisoner in the Sandman‘s first issue. It dissolves by the end, so much so that the conclusion is hidden under the crossover.

Midnight Theatre was plotted by Wagner, and fleshed out by Gaiman. This leads to Midnight Theatre being much more of a Sandman Mystery Theatre story than the Sandman, which, again, weird considering the size of their respective fanbases. Some of Gaiman’s trademark philosophizing on the meaning of story is here, but doesn’t benefit the mystery much when it’s only here for the purpose of crossover.

gaiman_smt_art
A quiet example of Kristiansen’s art, starring the Wesley Dodds half of the Sandman persona.

But good lord, Teddy Kristiansen’s art might make it worth it. His style is a bit abstract, reminding me of the abstract cubists or German expressionists that dominated the early 20th century. He adds a lot of nuance to Wesley Dodd’s internal conflicts, of his attraction to series regular Diana, of his broken identity.

Great art, boring, pointless story. The only excuse to read this is for struggling completists of either authors — and it’s a pretty crummy excuse.

4 / 10

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