Here are the most important things you need to know about Kill City Blues: there are 8 chapters, in the 7th chapter I was devastated, at the end of the 8th chapter I felt like I had read one of the best chapters in the entire series.
Kill City Blues opens on a meeting of former Lucifers over coffee and doughnuts.
Samael eyed his glazed old-fashioned suspiciously, like maybe it’s haunted.
“Charming. Did I invent these? They taste like something designed to destroy mortals from the inside out.”
Candy says, “Nope. We came up with them all on our own.”
“How wonderfully suicidal you people are. Donuts must be the very essence of free will.”
Their meeting is interrupted by a man offering a business proposition, followed by a man trying to shoot them. This sets Stark on a search for the Qomrama Om Ya, a weapon that can destroy the Angra Om Ya, the gods before God. Stark had the Qomrama, or as he calls it Magic 8 Ball, but the angel Aelita took it from him.
After knocking heads together and stirring up shit, he gets a line on the Qomrama’s location – an abandoned shopping mall, now home to those unable to manage in modern society and ghosts. Unlike previous books, Stark takes a team with him – his girlfriend Candy, a Jade (like a vampire but not undead), Brigitte Bardo, former zombie hunter, Vidocq, an accidentally immortal alchemist, and Father Traven, an excommunicated priest and sin eater. Also along is their guide Paul, who is not what he thinks he is.
A common trope in fantasy is that people around the main protagonist get hurt and are in danger of death in a way the protagonist is not. In Kill City Blues, the people around Stark are hurting spiritually and existentially. Candy is worried about whether or not she has a soul and whether she and Stark will be together in the afterlife. Father Traven is shaken by what he has learned about Heaven and Hell from Stark, and worried about his own guaranteed trip to Hell. There is some real fall out in Stark’s circle when they find out that Lucifer is a job and God has fractured into pieces. All of them have their strengths and abilities, and Stark is mostly physically invulnerable, but emotional pain cannot be escaped.
The rules of Sandman Slim’s Universe are remarkably Catholic. The elaborate rigidity provides an interesting backdrop for questioning morality, ethics, and punishment. James Stark, like a donut, is the essence of God’s problem with free will. He is the result of an angel exercising free will, and as such, is viewed as an abomination, forever barred from Heaven. Stark is in a unique position to argue about the pointlessness of eternal damnation or reward. He is an abomination who has saved the Universe.