Today I read Book II, where we find young Steven haunted by his memories of the Theatre of the Real. Throughout the issue, Steven slips between reality and dark fantasy as the eerie showman continues to tempt him to attend another performance.
There is a great dream sequence that evokes imagery from Alice Cooper’s classic concept album, “Welcome to My Nightmare.” When Steven is in school, there are lots of references to the “School’s Out” album, such as song quotes written on the chalkboard and references to songs woven into the dialog, all of which work very well. Another nice touch is that, in class, Steven is reading Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, which ties in with the theme of dark circuses and sideshows.
The idea of showmanship is also found throughout this issue. The showman is the archetype of the person who leads the audience into the realm of fantasy, directing the stage show which causes one to temporarily lose touch with reality and delve into the world of dreams, fantasy, and illusion.
Steven, no, I’m not the devil. The devil is a huge concept. I am merely a humble showman. I bring you glittering little moments of pleasure which brighten your otherwise dreary and monotonous life.
Again, for me, this is Neil Gaiman at his best, blending the boundaries between reality and dark fantasy, creating a space where nightmares slowly creep into our waking world. The next issue should include the Grand Finale and I must admit that I have high expectations. Check back in a day or so for my thoughts on the final act.
Click here to read my review of Book I.