From the pages of Sandman (The Sandman #25, published April 1991) there come two pupils, Edwin Paine, who died in 1916 and and Charles Rowland who died in 1990. They both meet each other in a school and after a while roaming around as ghosts they decide to become detectives and solve crimes.
Over the years they had quite a few appearances within other stories and limited series. In each of them they always were the kind of characters who were in the centre of the story. For me they were always interesting but it always lacked something, mostly it was not funny enough or scary enough. Until then they both only worked well in their first appearance when Edwin tried to help Charles to survive and failed.
Edwin Paine: The young lady had swooned away, and was now deeply unconscious.We knew her life was a feather whirling through thempests. I felt extremely dubious about further entangling ourselves in this young lady’s affairs.
Charles Rowland: The babe was out cold. Like it or not, we were on her case
This time they have their own on-going series and it fits them well. First they save the life of a girl and agree to look out for her. It becomes quite difficult when they hear her say that she wants to go a school called St. Hilarion’s, this being the school where Charles and Edwin met. In this first story called “Schoolboy Terrors” they meet old enemies, make some new ones and save some lives. There is even a well placed reveal of a secret which should keep the readers interested. Didn’t work for me but maybe because they already got me from issues one. The storyline consists of four issues and is filled with a lot of references to some old stories and paves the way with a lot of possibilities for future stories. I kinda liked that.
What I especially liked a lot was that Mark Buckingham, the provider of the story (and the penciler) well learned from his work at Fables. He knows exactly how to tell a fun, entertaining and a little bit spooky story. He surely is well supported by Toby Litt, who wrote the story, Gary Erskine who inked the pencil art and Lee Loughridge who brings each panel into life by using quite strong colors. As usual, Todd Klein delivers a wonderful job by lettering, he is and will be one of the greatest, here he uses many different letters for each person, without that it wouldn’t even be possible to know which dialogue belongs to whom.
The team is great and offers just the right mix of secrets, action and spooky to keep the level of interest high enough – it reminds me a lot of the first steps of Fables. Maybe it is the art but it is also the storytelling. Both main characters get treated well, how they care about the girl and how they fear of going back to St. Hilarion’s. The later being a wonderful stage for a lot of ideas, meet the bullies, the evil headmaster and much more. I would like to see more of them in future issues, I even like the new “companion”, this could get interesting.
Crystal: Go home. Shower. Save world. …. Well, eventually.