Sandman Presents Thessaly, Witch For Hire #4
Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: The Last Full Measure (or What Are All These Dead Guys Doing in My Living Room?)
The Tharmic Null is getting closer, and Thessaly’s only chance for survival is the lovelorn ghost named Fetch.
Writer: Bill Willingham
Art: Shawn McManus
Colors: Pamela Rambo
Letters: Phil Balsman
Editor: Mariah Huehner
Cover Art: Tara McPherson
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
As much as the third issue in this miniseries was a tour of Thessaly’s world, we still have new things to explore in this final chapter. She goes off to set free various creatures in her captivity or servitude in anticipation of her battle with the unstoppable Tharmic Null, then enters a battle armed with nothing but a clever twist on some pre-existing information. Surprisingly, there’s almost no action in this issue – the battle with the Null is pretty well glossed over, but there’s no sense of dissatisfaction either. Every character does exactly what you would expect him or her (or it) to do, even while throwing some surprises at you.
Having Thessaly release the monsters she’s captured, for example, is a brilliant piece of characterization on Willingham’s part. Believing she could die, this supposedly cold, stoic witch has a big enough heart not to want to leave these creatures to starvation, and at the same time, is sensible enough to protect the world from them once they’re loose. Fetch continues to be a charming scoundrel with a fair amount of courage as well, all fueled by his inexplicable love for Thessaly (if you were a composite ghost made up of the souls of hundreds of people all killed by the same woman, would you fall in love with her?). Willingham also uses a unique device to show the effects of the Null’s passing, how each world he touches on his path is beset by some tragedy.
The ending of the miniseries is somewhat bittersweet – bitter because it’s over and sweet because there’s a clear set-up for a third miniseries starring this character, one you can bet I’ll pull for because nobody has done as good a job with these Sandman spin-offs as Willingham has.
Shawn McManus has been with Thessaly since her introduction in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, and he continues to do fine work here. Riding the border between a horror comic and a cartoonish comedy, his art style compliments the story perfectly, and the cover painting of Tara McPherson is a perfect example of what a comic book cover should be. It gives us a glimpse of the story without giving too much away, and once you’re done reading you can look at it and think, “Ah, so that’s what she was getting at.”
I genuinely hate to see this miniseries come to a close, although at least I can still get a double dose of Willingham with Fables and Robin every month. In the meantime, I think I’m going to read this from the beginning and wait for the third series to be announced.