It can't be a sudden surprise to people that the current Journey Into Mystery comic from Marvel is a bit like Sandman. Hell, even Bleeding Cool has made the comparison, describing Journey Into Mystery as "Sandman done right" in honour of the apocryphal story about Tom DeFalco and Sleepwalker. I've actually had discussions with people at Marvel about why they should collect it in a big leather volume, specifically for that market.
Kieron Gillen has just talked to Multiversity at length about Journey Into Mystery, why he writes the stories he does and to what end, how the upcoming New Mutants crossover Exiled will work, and how the whole saga will come to an end.Go and read.
Because he also talks about similarities to Sandman… and how Manchester Gods will not be Sandman…
I was also interested in the literary basis of it. "Sandman" is a regular reference we get, and understandably so; "Sandman" in the Marvel Universe is another way of describing "JiM", but with a laugh track.
It's almost completely the opposite of "American Gods!" When I started to think about the larger structure of "JiM", I was talking to a friend who said, "Isn't that "American Gods," Kieron?" And I thought, "Fuck, it is!" There's a lot of deconstructioning nods towards "Sandman," especially in 'the Terrorism Myth', which is basically a Sandman analogue trying to take over the world. If you take apart 'the Terrorism Myth', it's basically a complete inversion of the first arc of "Sandman," and there are a lot of "Sandman" jokes in there. Remember the Fear Lords? I pretty much analogized all of the Fear Lords to be one of the Endless. There are a lot of meta-gags there.
With "the Manchester Gods", it doesn't work like that. It's one of those places where I've gone quite out of the way to make it clear that I'm talking about something else, which will make immediate and obvious sense the second any of the artwork appears. I don't want to spoil it too much, but it's the second of my big stories riffing on the idea of the emergence of whatever the 19th century was. Obviously the other half is 'Sinister' (from "Uncanny X-Men") and 'Sinister' is a very hard critique, but 'Manchester Gods' is something else.
The weird thing about "JiM" is there is lots of weird oedipal stuff going on. As I've already said, 'the Terrorism Myth' is a jokey piss-take of "Sandman" as well as everything else it is. It's doing a kind of nod and wink, but in a very affectionate and loving way. 'Manchester Gods' is attacking a load of other things in it's own Loki-esque way. It's quite playfully rebellious, and I hope it comes across well, because I really hate books that are dialectically opposed to the forebears, and it's one of my least favorite traits in some creators. I hope that the fact that everything I am doing is sort of a nod and a wink makes it a bit more affectionate than that, but there's certainly an element of – say – picking a fight with Alan Moore, or picking a fight with quite a few things in 'Manchester Gods.'
Everybody stand around Kieron in a circle and start chanting "Fight! Fight! Fight!"