“Everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world — no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds … not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.”
Before I begin, I want to say that A Game of You has to be one of my favorite titles for anything. This is actually Neil Gaiman’s personal favorite story arc. Why? To quote Gaiman himself, “[I]t’s most people’s least favorite volume, and I love it all the more for that.” So who do I agree with, him or the other readers? Actually, I like this one, but it’s not my most favorite.
The story brings us back once again to Barbie, a character from The Doll House. Here, she is now divorced and living in an apartment complex with a trans woman named Wanda (her real name is Alvin), a lesbian couple named Hazel and Foxglove (both of whom appear in both of Death’s miniseries), a witch named Thessaly, and a quiet man named George. In The Doll’s House, Barbie had vivid dreams, but now this is no longer the case. To make matters worse, an entity named The Cuckoo is plaguing the waking world. A creature known as Martin Tenbones, yet another character from The Doll’s House gives Barbie the Porpentine, an amulet which will return her to her dreams. There she must encounter and defeat the Cuckoo. This is actually part of the Dreaming, and her actions in this story alert Morpheus, who assists her in the story. She destroys the Porpentine, thus destroying her childhood fantasies and defeating the Cuckoo.
This is a great story and is Gaiman doing what he does best, creating a great fairy tale for adults. I like that even though he has a lesbian couple and a transwoman in the story, he does not browbeat you into accepting them. They are just characters, and actually enjoyable ones at that. Wanda/Alvin is a kind person who I enjoyed for the concern she/he showed for Barbie. I didn’t mind spending time with Barbie again, as I liked her in her previous story.
If you like the rest of the series, do not skip this volume. After all, it has connections to the penultimate book, The Kindly Ones.
Next month, I will review the second collection of vignettes, Fables and Reflections and also give you some background on how the Vertigo line was formed, as this was the story arc that Sandman was going through when it started being published under the Vertigo imprint.