It’s my first Graphic Opinions of 2020 and, if the Internet is to be believed, the popularity of Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter is still going strong. Granted, it’s been going strong for 30 years (as of this May) since the book was first published. Last May, though, Good Omens was released as a mini-series on Amazon Prime with millions more latching on to Aziraphale and Crowley as they have absolutely no effect on stopping the apocalypse.
The devilish angel and saintly demon are the creations of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, the latter of whom is an author whose books I’ve been working my way through for the past couple years. Over break, I decided to take a dive into Gaiman’s comic writing with his award-winning run on The Sandman. Like his other writings, it’s dark and grim and handles harsh realities balanced with outlandish fantasy. What’s truly amusing, though, is his handling of Hell and Heaven in comparison to his work with Pratchett and on the mini-series.
In one of the story arcs of Sandman, Lucifer decides to quit being the prince of Hell and kicks out the denizens, locking up the gates behind himself and handing the key over to Gaiman’s main character Dream. The demons (and many other gods, goddesses, representatives of Order and Chaos and more) seek Hell as their own domain. They’re wily and truly evil and barely contained by those who declare themselves the superiors. In Good Omens, the demons and angels are both made out to be lackeys in a corporate structure, and while the demons do carry out evil deeds, they come off as significantly less menacing than when Gaiman writes them alone.
Though the demons differ, it’s in this same storyline that we meet angels who bear a much more striking resemblance to those of Gaiman’s earlier work. While the angels in Sandman proclaim that “the war between Heaven and Hell is over,” rather than postponed as in Good Omens, their reactions prior to this declaration, when they convey a message and find themselves in the possession of the key to Hell, has marked similarities to Good Omens. Without ever saying as much, the angels reference The Ineffable Plan much like Aziraphale and Crowley. They realize that it is out of their control and eventually come to accept that this was the intention all along. Throughout the remainder of the arc, Good Omens almost echoes across the page.
Though they are two very different worlds — the events of Sandman easily slot into main DC continuity, while one can only imagine what havoc Adam and the Them might wreak in a world with superheroes (or simply how Crowley and Aziraphale might interact with the Justice League) — Gaiman overlapped in work on Sandman and Good Omens. But beyond his dark fantasy trademarks and sarcastic side characters, it is really only echoes of the latter that can be found in the former, proving Gaiman is little more than someone deeply knowledgeable about mythologies…unless The Book of Destiny and The Ineffable Plan are really one and the same?