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The Sandman Presents: The Dead Boy Detectives

by Ed Brubaker, Steve Leialoha (Illustrator), Bryan Talbot (Illustrator)

Series: Dead Boy Detectives (The Dead Boy Detectives TPB), The Sandman Presents (5 The Dead Boy Detectives TPB), The Sandman (5 The Dead Boy Detectives 1-4)

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1064201,768 (3.62)None
Written by Ed Brubaker Cover by Dave McKean Art by Bryan Talbot & Steve Leialoha Collected for the first time, this tale stars Edwin and Charles from THE SANDMAN: SEASON OF MISTS. Their first case involves a string of grisly murders - and the immortal Hob Gadling. Written by Ed Brubaker (Captain America, SLEEPER). Advance-solicited; on sale August 13 - 104 pg, FC, $12.99 US - MATURE READERS… (more)
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This spin-off of from the Sandman series is a delight to read, as we follow Edwin and Charles (the deadboys) on their first real case as detectives. The pair are dead (or close enough, since they both refused to go with Death when she came calling), which affords them from investigative advantages, but they spend most of their time bumbling around London and chasing the wrong suspect. It would have been nice if this series had continued, since Vertigo doesn't have any other classic-style detective stories for younger readers, and the series could have played a role in introducing younger readers to the Vertigo universe. At least we got one good collection out of these characters before they were retired for the time being. ( )
  JaimieRiella | Feb 25, 2021 |
My long, ambling journey through all things Sandman continues with The Dead Boy Detectives, which brings back two character who previously appeared in Season of Mists (and in only one issue, I think): Charles Rowland and Edwin Paine. Edwin was murdered at boarding school in 1916 and went to Hell, but escaped during Season of Mists. Charles, attending the same boarding school in 1991, was murdered during the same storyline. Due to the general chaos, both of them escaped Death and were not forced to go to the afterlife.

By the time of this story, they've set up as detectives. Why not? I'm sure there are worse ideas for Sandman spin-offs out there. And it's written by Ed Brubaker, who did an excellent off-beat take on the police procedural in Gotham Central, giving me confidence that he could do a mystery here.

Unfortunately, the book itself is not as fun as the premise "teenage ghost detectives" would imply. The mystery is as about as simplistic as simplistic could be; the characters spend the whole book being blatantly mislead, which is just frustrating to the reader. Who wants to read about a pair of detectives who are complete idiots? And like too many stories set in The Sandman universe, it revolves around the realm's ill-defined mysticism a little too much. Ghosts have the power to make miniature ghost versions of themselves, apparently. Why?

Worse, the characters are just dull. I couldn't ever remember which one was which, and given that one of them comes from 75 years before the other, that's a problem. At the very least Edwin could have been given comedy about being out of the loop from 1916 to 1991 (the story takes place in 2001). But we don't even get that. They're just interchangeable enthusiastic kids with creepy eyes.

Good premise, but nothing interesting after that point.

Neil Gaiman's The Sandman Spin-Offs: « Previous in sequence | Next in sequence »
  Stevil2001 | Sep 17, 2012 |
Summary: Schoolboys Edwin Paine and Charles Rowland want nothing more than to spend their days solving crimes, just like in their favorite novels, but they've got two problems. One, they don't have any customers, and two, they're not, strictly speaking, alive. But when they stumble upon a string of murders in which the victims appear to be drained of all of their life force, they must use every bit of their ghostly abilities to track down a killer who has been plaguing London for centuries.

Review: This was not my favorite of the Sandman spin-offs. Although several Sandman characters other than Edwin and Charles (namely, Mad Hetty and Hob Gadling) do make an appearance, there's little to no connection to the main work. Since I didn't have much invested in these minor characters, there wasn't a lot of emotional oomph to the story. And, while I enjoyed watching the ways in which being a ghost both helped and hindered detective work, I thought the actual mystery was pretty straightforward, and I found it frustrating that none of the characters seemed to pick up on the really obvious hints about the murderer's identity. Overall, it was a fun-enough diversion, but not something that blew me away. 3 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: For Sandman completists, it's not a bad way to spend an hour, but it's also not something I'd be heartbroken about missing out on, either. ( )
  fyrefly98 | Jan 7, 2012 |
An unusual graphic novel who's two main characters are Charles and Edwin, boys who have chosen not to die. They are almost caricatures of the boys from the classic English boys boarding school story yet this graphic novel takes place in a more modern world so a good amount of the humor comes from their slightly out of date ideas. Charles and Edwin run a detective agency and when a runaway finds them and asks for their help, things quickly become quite dark. The setting would be familiar to anyone who knows the Sandman novels since many of the characters appear within this but the story is not quite as dark as Sandman. In terms of who would enjoy this, it would probably be more appropriate for a high school student or mature middle school one due to the darkness of the subject manner in terms of death and violence. Also an avid reader who is aware of the classic tropes of Sherlock Holmes and the world of Tom Brown's Schooldays and their spinoffs will find more humor along with the original story. ( )
  katekf | Nov 6, 2009 |
Readers will be re-acquainted with the characters from Gaiman's "Seasons of Mist" from the Sandman Library in this spin-off story focusing on Charles Rowland and Edwin Paine -- two boys who refused to accompany Death on their final destination.

They have escaped the confines of their boarding school (the place of their deaths) and are basically indulging in what any carefree boy would: hanging out, watching movies, indulging in adventures and mysteries. They decided to become detectives, patterned after Sam Spade & Sherlock Holmes. The only difference? Well, they're ghosts and so are well-equipped in the spy world.

They take on their first murder case: that of an immortal killing London's runaway children. The story isn't that unique but what saves it is the historical retelling of the story of Gille de Rais's life. Much welcome is the appearance of other familiar characters such as Mad Hettie and Robert "Hob" Gadling. That, in my opinion, is what saved this story. If it's not your cup of tea, then I'd wholeheartedly suggest Jill Thompson's version of this spin-off.

Book Details:

Title The Sandman Presents: Dead Boy Detectives
Author Ed Brubaker
Reviewed By Purplycookie ( )
  purplycookie | Apr 12, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ed Brubakerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Leialoha, SteveIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Talbot, BryanIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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At the end of the first day of what became their strangest and most dangerous case, Charles Rowland and Edwin Paine found themselves wandering in the dark, as usual...
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Written by Ed Brubaker Cover by Dave McKean Art by Bryan Talbot & Steve Leialoha Collected for the first time, this tale stars Edwin and Charles from THE SANDMAN: SEASON OF MISTS. Their first case involves a string of grisly murders - and the immortal Hob Gadling. Written by Ed Brubaker (Captain America, SLEEPER). Advance-solicited; on sale August 13 - 104 pg, FC, $12.99 US - MATURE READERS

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