Sunday, June 17, 2012

Murder Mysteries

Written by Neil Gaiman
Art and Adaptation by P. Craig Russell

I believe that Murder Mysteries began life as a prose piece written by Neil Gaiman, that was later adapted as a radio play before being turned into a graphic novel by the uber-talented P. Craig Russell, much as he did with Gaiman's Sandman: Dream Hunters.

This book reminds me of just how much I miss Sandman.  It opens with a man telling his story.  He's been stuck in Los Angeles for a while, trying to get a flight back to England, but because of poor weather there, he's not been able to go anywhere.  He discovers that a former girlfriend is in town, and he goes to meet her.  After their time together (which is not as satisfying as he'd hoped), he sits out on a park bench and begins to talk to a homeless man, who decides to tell him his own story.

As it turns out, this man is the angel Raguel, the 'vengeance of the Lord'.  Raguel was activated when the first murder took place in Heaven, and he is sent by Lucifer (before the fall) to investigate.  The victim, Carasel, had been working on the concept of death, and his partners and supervisors are suspects.  The story proceeds along a familiar, Hercule Poirot-like trajectory, complete with a scene where Raguel gathers all the suspects to hear his accusation, but set in Heaven, which makes it pretty unique.

Gaiman's portrayal of Heaven and the various angels is completely consistent with the approach he took in Sandman.  This could easily have been a story set in that fictional universe.  Russell's art is stupendous, but then, it always is. 

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