I feel really mentally exhausted after slogging through A Game of You. That’s a complex story with a lot of moving parts that I feel like I barely even touched upon over the last two months, and the gear shift that comes along is a really tough one to make. Like the set of three one-shot stories that Gaiman did before he started A Game of You, there’s another set that follows on its trail. Unlike the earlier set though, I think these stories as a whole are a good bit weaker, which makes them a lot less interesting to write about. The first one is a story about a grandfather telling his granddaughter a story about “the old country.” There’s a tribe of people who can turn into wolves and an old Romani woman carrying secret treasures in her peddler’s pack and Baba Yaga and also Dream’s librarian, Lucien, who is trying to recover a book that he lost. It ends with a sort of moral about unfulfilled dreams sometimes being the only way to learn that you really want something different from life, and contains many panels with closeups of intense faces staring at the reader with canine eyes.
Also, the frame story of the grandfather and the granddaughter very strongly reminds me of the frame story in the movie version of The Princess Bride.
And that’s kind of it. I’ve read this story a few times, and I don’t think there’s a whole lot more to it than that. Considering this was the first issue that ran after A Game of You, my guess is that Gaiman needed a rest of sorts, and “The Hunt” was the result. It’s not a particularly layered story, and the mishmash of folklore that gets thrown in is fun, but generally lacks much in the way of substance. Ironic, considering the grandfather’s motive for telling his granddaughter the story in the first place is because he thinks the stuff she likes as an American teenager is largely vapid. That she responds to his tale by calling it sexist and xenophobic is refreshing, and seems to indicate that Gaiman is at least a little bit aware of the fluffiness of the story he’s just told.
The art for the issue is perfectly nice, again with all of the aforementioned panels of people staring intensely at the reader like they plan to eat their audience. This is the only issue in The Sandman where Duncan Eagleson provides pencils.
Next time we’ll get into a story about Marco Polo crossing the desert.