Free Country

Free Country

A Tale of the Children's Crusade

Book - 2015
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"For the first time, the two-issue miniseries THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE, written by Neil Gaiman, Alisa Kwitney and Jamie Delano, are collected - and with them, a new chapter written by Toby Litt that completes the tale as Gaiman originally envisioned it. When several children go missing in a small English town, the Dead Boy Detectives are on the case. A series of strange and unexpected twists take them to Free Country, a place that dates back a millennia, where children never grow old and are free from the abuse and tyranny of adults. But Free Country is failing, and what it needs is the strength of five innately powerful children - including the young sorcerer Timothy Hunter - to restore their uncanny world to what it once was. This hardcover collects THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE #1 and THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE #2, written by Gaiman with cowriters Alisa Kwitney and Jamie Delano. A brand-new middle chapter written by DEAD BOY DETECTIVES writer Toby Litt and drawn artist Peter Gross (THE BOOKS OF MAGIC, THE UNWRITTEN) completes this compelling tale of ancient history, stolen dreams and lost children. Also featuring a new introduction by Gaiman, plus new cover art by DEAD BOY DETECTIVES artist Mark Buckingham"-- Provided by publisher.

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Michael Colford Dec 24, 2016

Free Country: A Tale of the Children's Crusade, took the kids featured in the various Vertigo comics from the 80's and tossed them together into a dark, fantastical tale penned by Neil Gaiman, Alisa Kwitney, Jamie Delano, and Toby Litt. For this recent hardcover release, a center section was added, written by Toby Little and Rachel Pollack. The result is a slightly disjointed, if more thorough telling of a tale of lost children and dark forces who would put them through a hell far worse than any they think they might escaping on Earth.

The Vertigo comics of the 80s were a truly inspiring batch, taking some mainstream DC characters and recasting them in quirky, dark, mystical tales. Titles like Doom Patrol, Animal Man, Black Orchid, and Swamp Thing, not to mention Neil Gaiman's Sandman, spawned characters and stories the confounded expectations and explored some really twisted corners of the universe. Surprisingly, in all of these titles, children were featured, and Free Country brings them all together. The main characters are Gaiman's Dead Boy Detectives, a pair of ghosts who exists on the periphery of the living world trying to solve crimes. In trying to solve a missing person's case, they stumble across Free Country, a place where children go to escape the horrors of the real world. There they uncover a questionable plot to lure five particularly, special and powerful children to Free Country in order to use their power to bring all the children of earth there. Their main target is Tim Hunter, from Gaiman's Books of Magic, but their other targets include Maxine, Animal Man's daughter, Tefe, Swamp Things daughter, Dorothy, from the Doom Patrol, and Suzy, one of the Black Orchids.

It's a neat crossover, and this repackaged, collected edition gives it an epic feel, as well as a super case of nostalgia for those of us who were Vertigo fanatics in the day. But it's also a bit meandering and disjointed upon re-reading. Still, it's beautifully drawn and a great tale to revisit.

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