Thursday, 2 January 2014

Non Angli Sed Angeli

When the Augustine who was to become St Augustine of Canterbury saw slaves being unloaded from a ship, he asked who they were, was told, "Angli" (Angles), replied, "Non Angli sed Angeli" (Not Angles but Angels), then later traveled to England (Angle-land, Angleterre) to convert the Angles to Christianity and became the first Archbishop of Canterbury.

In Neil Gaiman and Matt Wagner's Sandman Midnight Theatre (New York, 1995), the Reverend Hawsley, hoping to research early Church history in the library of the Order of Ancient Mysteries, quips, "'Not angels, but angles eh?" (p. 18), but I imagine that his reference is lost on the American Wesley Dodds.

The attached image, from p. 33, is three consecutive scenes from inside the home of the founder of the OAM and I am sure that the blood-stained gentleman in the middle panel appeared in exactly the same way in an old issue of John Constantine: Hellblazer?

Thus, Gaiman as script-writer makes a verbal reference to English ecclesiastical history and a visual reference to a seminal comic book series but both are so understated that they might be missed. Wesley Dodds is still the Golden Age Sandman but there is a lot more than that going on in this volume, including Hawsley who turns out to have a secret identity and deserves his own series.

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