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The Sandman Presents: Thessaly Witch for Hire #2

Posted: Sunday, March 14, 2004
By: Shawn Hill



“Ghostraker or the Importance of Well-Hidden Jars”

Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Shawn McManus

Publisher: Vertigo

Plot:
Thessaly fulfills Fetch’s latest mission for her, even as she keeps him under restraint. Meanwhile, we learn that both of them may be dupes of more sinister powers.

Comments:
I’m beginning to get the feel of this arc, which isn’t quite the fantastical, dream-like whimsy of the first Thessaly series (by the same creators). The first one had dark moments, but this one is a pure horror story, as Thessaly travels the world ridding it of scourges more evil (but luckily usually less powerful) than herself. This issue it’s a hungry genie cornered in a diner, and Thessaly’s way of enrapturing the diner-folk (which recalls an early Sandman story involving a particularly gruesome day in a diner) is wonderfully presented through both image and dialogue.
Fetch, it turns out, is not just a ghost sent to haunt her, but also a composite personality created somehow out of all the souls she’s killed over the centuries. IE, someone made him just to get to her. And the disparity between her lithe, girlish form (not to mention all the charming nick-nacks she carts around on her travels) and her immortal might is a principle source of the dark humor that powers this series.

Here the real culprits are the usual ones; corrupt old Englishmen who may have caught both Fetch and Thessaly in their scam, members of some sort of Masonic black lodge. IE exactly the sort of culprits so often blamed for supernatural shenanigans in these sorts of stories. But the pleasure here is in knowing that, if she finds them, these guys are complete toast just like everyone else who’s ever wronged her.

There’s not much action in this issue after that initial diner scene (unlike last issue’s non-stop battle with the snake demon), just lots of talking and uncovering of characters and plot threads. But Willingham’s dialogue is almost up there on a Bendis level, wonderfully effective in what it does and doesn’t tell the audience. This series is picking up, and I expect some blood-chilling moments before it’s over.

Kudos again to cover painter Tara McPherson. This issue, in hues of blood red, she’s dreamed up a very spooky Thessaly who chills despite her cute kitty slippers. Maybe it’s got something to do with the Kirby dots crackling around her head.



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