The Sandman Presents: Thessaly, Witch For Hire #3 Review

Reviewer: “Starman” Matt Morrison
Story Title: Something The Cat Dragged In or An Even Bigger Quest Than in the Last Story

Written by: Bill Willingham
Penciled by: Shawn McManus
Inked by: Shawn McManus
Cover by: Tara McPherson
Colored by: Pamela Rambo
Lettered by: Phil Balsman
Editor: Mariah Huehner
Publisher: Vertigo Comics

There is quite a lot to attract one to this title. The most obvious is that this is one of an all too-few limited series based around the characters from Neil Gaiman’s classic “The Sandman” series. Another feature is that the story is by Bill Willingham; for my money, one of the best new writers to hit it big in recent memory. Author of numerous other Vertigo limited series (including a fair number of Sandman stories), Willingham recently hit it big with his own series, Fables. And for those of us who don’t care much for a good story, the artwork is done by the amazing Shawn McManus; another alumni of the Vertigo/Sandman school.

If you haven’t had the good fortune to be exposed to Thessaly either in “The Sandman” or in Willingham’s original mini-series “The Thessaliad”, which “Witch For Hire” is a sequel too, then this book holds very little for you. This is a talking head’s issue that exists purely to advance the plot. Thankfully, with Willingham’s gift for dialogue this fails to be as tedious as it might be with a lesser wordsmith.

At any rate, Thessaly is a witch. One of the famed witches of Thessaly from the Greek Mythology in fact, and if you don’t know anything about the myths regarding the Thessalian witches, all you need to know is that being turned into a pig or a donkey was the least of your worries. Thessaly is the oldest of her kind, and indeed, this issue reveals that she is older even than the days of Ancient Greece.

Due to some problems caused by an annoying ghost (i.e. Fetch, a gestalt of every person ever killed by Thessaly in her long life), Thessaly has wound up being signed up to kill or capture a number of highly dangerous monsters. With Fetch trapped in a magic mirror, Thessaly set out to fulfill this unwanted obligation, only to find that by signing onto this contract, she has made herself the target of one of the few things able to kill her; a Tharmic Null.

A Tharmic Null, this issue informs us, is a beast made of pure chaos that is occasionally made when something very evil is done in order to remove the evil along with everything else in the immediate area. The rest of this issue shows us Thessaly’s journeys as she travels around the universe searching for the knowledge of how to kill such a thing. A journey that, we find out, was all for nothing as she was unable to find her answers anywhere, despite consulting numerous oracles and books of magic, a giant cat who has killed one of everything in the universe that can die and even the Library of the Dream Realms where we get a quick cameo of Lucien and Merv from “The Sandman”.

This is all a great treat for the Sandman fans but not very conductive to anyone who missed the first two issues or who isn’t, for some reason, a fan of “The Sandman”. But for those of us who are, Willingham does Gaiman’s creations proud and I cannot wait to see the conclusion. Which, it might be noted, we are promised on the final page: “No More Talking Heads. It’s All Monsters From Here On Out.”