This is essentially a short story collection in comic form. The afterword notes that Gaiman needed a break from the main storyline after finishing up The Doll’s House arc, and had a few ideas he wanted to play around with. I found all of them to be satisfying enough, but none of them really knocked my socks off, either. The standout in the collection for me was the first one, “Calliope,” in which a novelist with a terrible case of writer’s block holds one of the nine Muses captive so that he can always have ideas. I’m nearly always going to like a story about the creation of art, though, and Gaiman is particularly good at those.
The second issue was definitely the weirdest, and it was about cats! I’m not quite sure Gaiman nailed the cat persona. If my cats could talk, they would be much more entitled and much less eloquent. Still, it was weird enough to keep me engaged.
The third issue featured Dream commissioning William Shakespeare to write A Midsummer Night’s Dream (incidentally, my favorite Shakespeare play) in exchange for artistic inspiration, in a sort of echo of the first story in the collection, and the first performance of it is for actual fairies. The fourth was a depressing little number about a woman who gains the ability to transform herself into anything, but it ruins her life. The ending of that one did almost nothing for me; maybe I just didn’t get it, but it was my least favorite.
All in all, a nice little diversion, but I’m ready to get back to the main story now.