Sandman Slim: Killing Pretty
James Stark's returned to LA from hell's gladiator pits and has been tearing things up ever since -- but what do you get for the monster who has everything? Killing Pretty has the answer.
The Sandman Slim adventures have been a game of chicken that Richard Kadrey played with himself and his readers -- when every installment involves peril to the very fabric of reality itself, how can each volume top the last for hard-boiled snark and ultraviolent end-of-the-world mayhem?
Making things even more complicated is the fact that each of James "Sandman Slim" Stark's adventures buffed him up further, leaving him with even more powers and assets he could use to clobber his enemies. As he approached (literal) godhood, he was in real danger of slipping from his spot as the beloved underdog and into a kind of decadent king-of-the-roost-hood.
Of course, there's one enemy that only gets harder the fight the more powerful you get: yourself. For seven volumes, Sandman Slim has struggled with his own nature and his relationship to the people around him. He's got ample reason to dread personal attachments -- people around him get dead quick, and when they do, he can't forgive himself -- but he's lonely and hurt and he needs those people, no matter how much he hates this fact.
In Killing Pretty, Sandman Slim once again finds himself as the sole force standing between the world and total destruction. This time around, it's the Angel of Death, who was murdered (heart cut out, no less!) and then found by Stark, who finds himself nursing Death himself back from the grave. Meanwhile, all over the world, the comatose are piling up, as there is no Death to sever their souls and take them into the afterlife.
It's Death Takes a Holiday with hard-boiled characteristics -- this is no heartwarming story of Death finding his humanity. Instead, its a story of limitless desperation and cruelty, Hollywood style, where occultists and talent agents join forces to pit-fight the ghosts of desperate D-list celebrities for the amusement of venal LA vampires (literal and figurative).
But while the other adventures have been long on Stark's journey through the Satanic underworlds, overworlds and netherworlds of the whole history of weird and extreme belief-systems, all that stuff merely forms the backdrop in this installment. In Killing Pretty, Sandman Slim discovers what Spiderman, Superman, Wonder Woman and countless other superheroes learned the hard way: being an immortal superpowered badass doesn't mean that your friends can't hurt you -- and that you can't get them hurt.
Kadrey's done amazing work keeping one of literature's great anti-heroes in adventures this long, and Killing Pretty proves that he isn't slowing down.
Killing Pretty [Richard Kadrey/Harpercollins]
Previous reviews: Sandman Slim, Kill the Dead, Aloha From Hell, Devil Said Bang, Kill City Blues, The Getaway God.
"Let's Never Talk About This Again" is a touching memoir about birth, death, and dad's amateur erotica career
In 2012, I was given the privilege of performing my high school ska-punk hit song “Adam Wants A Blowjob” during a performance of Mortified in Brookline, Massachusetts. Mortified is a gloriously hilarious and cathartic evening of performance, wherein people perform excerpts from their actual, real-life high school and college journaling and other writing. It’s embarrassing; it’s touching; […]
The Kent District Library in Grand Rapids, Michigan is imploring its patrons to please not attempt to disinfect borrowed books by putting them in the microwave. The books contain metal RFID tags that will burn the pages and potentially cause a fire. From KIRO7: “I don’t know if it was something that they saw on […]
Every year, adventurous (and oft-unprepared) hikers who are fans of Jon Krakauer’s book “Into the Wild” (1996) or the move based upon it have attempted the treacherous 20 mile trek on Alaska’s Stampede Trail to the abandoned bus where Chris McCandless found refuge (until his death) in 1992. And frequently, hikers making the pilgrimage have […]
With all due respect to our vegetarian friends, there might be nothing more intrinsically linked to the 4th of July holiday than a big ole cookout. Sure, fireworks and celebrating the birth of a constitutional republic are great too, but showing off your cooking prowess with a brilliantly seared, mouth-watering slab of grade-A American beef […]
We’re at the midway point of 2020. So…how’s the year going for you so far? Yeah…we can guess. But while there’s a lot about 2020 we can’t directly control, maybe a little retail therapy can help make you feel better. Sure, the 39 items we gathered together can absolutely bring a smile to your face. […]
When revved-up kids used to dribble a basketball through the kitchen or practice their footwork with a soccer ball in front of the television, exasperated parents would often just send ‘em outside to play. But these days, sending kids out might not be the best course of action. Despite all the changes, many budding young […]