By Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell
This is my favorite of Gaiman’s short works. It contains startling biblical secrets, a classic detective story, and an incredible exploration of the origins of human emotions. I first read this story in Neil Gaiman’s collection of short prose and poetry, Smoke and Mirrors. This graphic adaptation is just as spectacular.
But the short story was so good that I’m not sure what the art adds to it, other than making it more attractive and easily accessible. Don’t get me wrong, P. Craig Russell is one of my favorite artists – the Maxfield Parish of the comics world. He’s a spectacular designer and draughtsman, and his work keeps getting better as he quietly toils outside of the hot-artist-of-the-month comics limelight. No one else could draw this subject matter with such flair and classicism. And only Russell’s mastery of the human form could make dozens of nude angels distinctive characters.
But maybe my reservations involve the subject matter – heaven. Russell didn’t make any “errors” from the original text, and I feel his art is as amazing as any could be for this story, but maybe some of these abstract concepts are better left to the imagination. Of course, you could deflect that concern by saying that the art is merely the protagonist’s recreation of the events in his (human) mind, since the angel story is being told to him. Gaiman implies as much.
Sorry to quibble so long – just musing. It’s a moot point, since as you can see I still gave this book a rare 10 stars. Just keep in mind that the original prose probably gets 10 stars as well.
- Read June 2002