“When a world ends, there’s always something left over. A story perhaps, or a vision, or a hope.”
World’s End is the final short story arc in Sandman, collecting issues #51-56. Among the artists is Mike Allred, best known for his original character Madman, published by Dark Horse under their Legend imprint, and X-Statix, a comic he did for Marvel. It’s another story where the Endless take a backseat to the supporting cast, or as TV Tropes calls it, a “Lower Deck Episode”. It also loosely ties in to DC’s “Zero Hour” event of 1995, the only crossover event Sandman ever crossed over with. Even so, it was published a year after the event, so it’s not that necessary to know anything about it.
The arc is inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer’s timeless medieval classic “The Canterbury Tales”. In that book, a group of travelers stop at an inn and swap stories. Because Neil Gaiman has a passion for folklore, it’s no surprise that he would choose to pay homage to Chaucer’s stories. In fact, we even meet Chiron, a centaur from Greek mythology. Let’s take a look at each story.
“A Tale of Two Cities” (no relation to the Dickens novel)–(Alec Stevens) A story influenced by HP Lovecraft, this story is told by a city-dweller on the verge of madness after discovering a forbidden truth. It’s the only story to feature Dream. Alec is best known for The Sinners, a comic he did for DC’s defunct Piranha Press imprint.
“Cluracan’s Tale”– (John Watkiss) This is a story told by Cluracan, the faerie introduced in Season of Mists, who is summoned to the city of Aurelian. It also features Nuala, who was last seen in vol. 5.
“Hob’s Leviathan”–(Michael Zulli/Dick Girodano) We once again meet Hob’s Gadling from the “Doll House” arc.
“The Golden Boy”–(Mike Allred) This story focuses on Prez Rickard, who in the DC universe was the United States’s first teen president and was created by Captain America co-creator Joe Simon. He’s appeared on and off since his introduction in the 70’s, and was even featured in DC’s “New 52”.
“Crements”–(Shea Anton Pensa/Vince Locke) The only story that ties into Sandman‘s main arc, and features Destruction, Destiny, and the first Despair.
This is the volume I like the least. In fact, unless you’re a completist, I’d say you should skip it. Even “Crements” isn’t that necessary in the overall story of Sandman. Next time, in August, we go back to the main story for the rest of the collection, starting with The Kindly Ones.