It has been said that hell is cold and very dark and the talk of any return from it all lies. There is a different version of the underworld portrayed in Neil Gaiman’s classic Sandman story arc Season of Mists and it’s perfect reading for these gloomy, icy February days. Norman Mailer’s cover blurb declares it a “comic strip for intellectuals” and, while he may have been a little late to appreciate the joys of comic books, it did help remove them from the ghetto of scorn and even congressional investigations for subversion. (The Legion of Superheroes made me join a street gang!) Season tells the story of a fateful (literally) meeting of immortals which results in the Sandman’s return trip to the nether regions, a perilous journey even for the Dream Master. The story is shaped by atonement, forgiveness and the true meaning of judgement and features a wide variety of gods, demigods and even the Creator (off-strip.) The artwork is luminous and dares to portray the invisible: the Gates of Hell, Lucifer and Death herself. Includes effusive (slightly purple) praise and a nit-pick from Harlan Ellison in the introduction and disturbing pseudo-biographies (one hopes) at the end. Essential reading.