In my continuing quest to read as many of Neil Gaiman’s works as I can, I finally got through the beginning of The Sandman, a 75 issue comic series that began in the 80’s. It follows Dream of the Endless, a family of personified concepts. Dream, Death, Desire, Destiny, Destruction, Despair, and Delirium. Though Dream, being the Sandman, is the focus, his other siblings do come into play quite often.
The first several issues deal with what happens when Dream is captured and imprisoned by several warlocks who had hoped to imprison Death. With no Dream, people go mad. Eventually, Dream frees himself and must rebuild his world, and recover his relics. As the story continues, Dream must save the world from a vortex, an entity within a human that would connect all the dreams in the world and destroy everything.
What I really love about this series so far, besides the writing, is that all of the art is in black and white. Even though most of the series takes place in the real world vs Dream’s realm, it works so well. It leaves a lot to the imagination in a way. Below are a few panels of Dream’s escape and punishment of his captor.
Two of the most fascinating issues so far, are 6 and 13. In the lead up to 6, Dream discovers that his most powerful possessions have been stolen by mortals. One of them is his gem which helps shape dreams. Unfortunately, it has fallen into the hands of an insane man who tries to use it to make others insane. In issue 6, entitled “24 Hours,” he takes it to a diner and spends the next 24 hours torturing the minds of everyone in there with the gem, just to see it’s powers. It’s a disturbing issue to say the least, one that will stick with you. The cover alone is disturbing, but the issue as a whole is one that you can’t look away from.
Issue 13 is interesting for a whole different reason. Within 13, Death and Dream are lingering among humans in the dark ages when they overhear a man declare he plans to never die. Dream convinces his sister to let the man continue living, stop his aging and let him have his wish. He appears before the man, saying he overheard the boast, and they agree to meet in the pub every 100 years. As the years go on, the man remains convinced that there’s still too much to live for and that dying is just foolish, no matter what he’s gone through in those 100 years. And eventually we figure out that though Dream started this as an experiment, what he really wanted and needed was a friend.
I own the rest of the series, and I very much look forward to continuing this mad, dark, fascinating series. The collections I have are massive, so it’s slow and difficult as they are too big to transport. But they’re fabulous reads.
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