Both Will Hines and Hal Phillips have told me that I’m at the point in which everything in Sandman is consistently good, and I trust their opinions so I’m not anticipating offering too much criticism at this point. Instead everything is going to be about what worked more or less well compared to other Sandman stories.
I am not entirely sure why the Convergence stories are grouped together. I didn’t necessarily see a unifying theme among them beyond the use of cultural mythologies to tell a universal tale. I thought that “The Hunt” was a lovely story, and it even overcame my disdain for a framing device that uses a youngster constantly calling bull on an old relative’s story. Actually, much of it was cliche but worked inspite of that, right down to the reveal that the story was about the grandfather. It contained some incredibly predictable moments but that didn’t get in the way of what was still a very cool tale.
I cared much less for “Soft Places.” While it was enjoyable it also felt incredibly unclear as to what the purpose of the story was. In some ways it felt like it was meant to throw off the reader, who at this point might think they understand the difference between dreams and reality, and say “Uh-uh-uh, you don’t know nothing.” Still I felt like there was meant to be a message that I just didn’t get.
I really liked “The Parliament of Rocks” but I attribute that primarily to my own interest in Biblical stories. I kind of loved that Adam rejected his second wife because he saw all that went inside of her. That’s such a bizarre but plausible scenario, following Bible-logic. I also really liked the chibi versions of Death, Dream, Cain and Abel that appeared in Abel’s story. It felt like such a contrast to the visual styles that have come up until now, but it still fit perfectly.
I have almost no opinion about “Fear of Falling,” which came before “The Parliament of Rooks” in my books (it was actually the first story of Vol. 3 but I’m writing about it last because it’s not labeled as a Convergence story). I did not dislike it but I felt like there was very little to it beyond the idea that one must try, whether they fail or not. It was a nice, important lesson but it didn’t move far beyond that.
While this does not come in the chronology of the Sandman stories as they are largely accepted, I did read “The Flowers of Romance: A Story of Desire” at the end of my Absolute Sandman Volume 2 book. I adored this story about the demise of a Satyr. Beyond being a sad but lovely story, the artwork is gorgeous. If you are a Sandman fan but haven’t read this, I highly recommend you find it. It was originally published in Vertigo: Winters Edge #1.