Volume 1, consisting of issues 1-8 of the monthly comic, fulfilled every one of my prior disillusions about the series. It’s d...moreMild not-really spoilers
Volume 1, consisting of issues 1-8 of the monthly comic, fulfilled every one of my prior disillusions about the series. It’s dark, it’s funny, it’s gross, it’s scary, and it’s all in a world that’s just like our own except when it’s not. Death is the grungy king of dreams, trapped in a fishbowl for decades before going on his own hero’s journey. Batman makes an appearance. I mean, really, Batman. And John Constantine. John Constantine.
Okay, the brief synopsis: Dream is one of the seven Endless siblings. He rules over the entire realm of dreams and can play with people’s dreams accordingly. An awful occult artist attempts to trap Death in order to control her and live forever. He screws up and gets Dream instead. Mr. Occult steals Dream’s three symbols of power (a gas-mask like helm, a bag of power, and a ruby amulet) and traps him in a giant glass fishbowl until Dream promises to teach him everything he knows and therefore make him immortal. Wishful thinking, of course.
Eventually Dream gets out of his fishbowl. I mean, he has to or the story doesn’t go beyond an issue or two. Then we follow him as he discovers the state of his kingdom and goes after his three treasures. Along the way, he has run-ins with John Constantine (hee!), Martian Manhunter, Lucifer, Cain and Abel (yes, that Cain and Abel), and a host of other eccentric, seriously disturbed characters.
On the surface it’s nothing new. Hero’s Journeys are classic and everywhere. It’s the details that make this story so much more. Gaiman goes into the effects a missing king of Dreams would have on the populace at large. The relationships between immortal personifications of ideas and the people they play around with for fun and folly. And most of all, what do the things of dreams do when their king has abandoned them?
The cover art for each issue is deliciously creepy, but then again Dave McKean doesn’t know how to do anything that isn’t mysteriously sinister and full of otherness. I wish he and Gaiman would collaborate even more than they do. McKean’s art is the perfect fit to Gaiman’s bizarre gothic imagination. The main panels, while not nearly as abstract and creepy, fulfill the promise of Gaiman’s words. There are some seriously disturbed images in this book. This is definitely for mature audiences. There’s nudity, sex, drugs, gory gross graphic blood shed… all the things that I would usually roll my eyes at in a Capes-and-Tights comic, but it works (is my fangirl showing?). The story lends itself to the images inside and the artists, Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcom Jones III, all of whom I’ve never heard of, go all out. Nothing is held back and the comic becomes more of a movie than still images on a piece of paper.
The insertion of other DC characters feels forced with the exception of John Constantine, who fits so well into this universe it might as well be his own. I think the wedging of other, more notable and known characters of the time stops after these few issues, but it was a valiant effort.
Attempting to insert new characters into the well mapped streets of Gotham is a difficult task, and Batman and the Justice League are just too much for a story with such serious undertones. Though I admit the use of Arkham Asylum patients and Scarecrow/Dr. Jonathan Crane was inspired and worked well (even if Scarecrow looked nothing like Cillian Murphy).
Was I disappointed that Delirium never appeared? Of course. She’s my favorite. I quote her all the time. I have both of Jill Thompson’s Little Endless storybooks (those I have read). But now that I’ve read this volume, it makes sense to only introduce Dream with his big sister Death showing up at the end to knock some sense into his broody self. There’s a brief shot of Destiny as well, but he’s not named. Cramming in all the Endless over the course 230 pages would be too much. Dream is our star. This is his story, at least for these eight issues.
This is such a GIANT universe with so many GENIUS ideas that I don’t know how Gaiman could possibly encapsulate them in even the 10 volumes that exist.(less)
I’m almost tempted to stop there and make that my entire review. It sums up this volume of Sandman the best way I could imagine. It is twisted, disturbing, disgusting and all around horrific. There were points where I nearly had to put the book down for fear of becoming physically ill. I suppose that’s a testament to the artwork though, right? They took Gaiman’s twisted imagination and created equally twisted images that reflected his ideas perfectly. While it wasn’t to my taste, I can still see the artistry of it all.
Let’s start from the beginning: if volume 1 was the simple hero’s journey, volume 2 is the more complex deconstructing and determining the uses and purposes of storytelling. Dream’s servant Lucien conducts a census of the dreamland’s inhabitants to find four “Major Arcana” are missing – Brute & Glob, the Corinthian and Fiddler’s Green. By the end, all four have been located, but not before some of them do a lot of damage. Lucien also informs Dream that a new vortex housed in a human girl has been found and could potentially destroy all of the Dreaming if she isn’t stopped.
Meanwhile, in the real world, one of the women who suffered from a long term sleeping sickness in the previous volume is renewed with the family she has never met. Rose Walker, our resilient protagonist for this story arc and grand-daughter to the old woman, is sent on a mission to locate her missing little brother in Florida. She of course crosses paths with crazies, creepies and all manners of whackadoos before the story concludes.
Our first look at Desire and Despair come early on and, for the most part, their exchange remains cryptic and unexplained until the very end. I think the depictions of Desire are my favorite of the whole book. Both male and female, the artists seem to oscillate between slightly more feminine features in one shot and slightly more masculine in others. Whether it was purposeful or not, it plays well and gives another dimension to Desire’s character without the need for extra exposition.
And of course, Dave McKean’s issue covers and extra art scattered throughout the pages are dark, creepy, and ominous without having to be graphic or necessarily disturbing. I’ve always admired his mixed media art, and once again, he uses the style masterfully. Illustrators Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III did all the issues in the main The Doll’s House storyline, which allowed for consistency in character, and yet, by the time we reach the climax of the story, taking place in the Dreaming, the art style changes, dramatically at times. I was very impressed.
Gaiman has an ability to create scenes that will stick with you forever, and not in a good way. For example, in his novel American Gods in the very first chapter, the goddess Bast has turned to prostitution to find tributes which she consumes during sex. And by consumes, I don’t mean with her mouth. Even if you forget the rest of the book, that imagine sticks. He does the same thing here with the Corinthian. With the addition of the amazing group of artists, an idea of a nightmare created by a demi-god becomes real, an actual walking nightmare that inspires people to follow his ways. And his ways aren’t so nice.
In the middle of all this crazy, there’s an interlude that tells the story of a man who refuses to die and, since Death only takes the willing, he lives forever. Every 100 years, he meets with Dream in a pub and tells him about what has occurred in his life since they last met, over the course of six centuries. Brief cameos by William Shakespeare and an earlier Constantine relative tie it into general history and DC cannon, respectively. It’s one of those “the more things change, the more they stay the same” sort of parables and demonstrates that perhaps, yes, Dream is capable of having a mostly functional relationship with a human being. Mostly it’s a respite from the gruesome darkness of the story that is only about to get worse.
I have no background in Star Trek other than my boyfriend sitting me down to suffer through The Wrath of Kahn. I bought this comic for his birthday du...moreI have no background in Star Trek other than my boyfriend sitting me down to suffer through The Wrath of Kahn. I bought this comic for his birthday due to his increasing excitement for the upcoming movie and he finally convinced me to read it. I like comics. I was going to see the movie. Why not?
I find Spock to be a very intriguing character and this comic book created additional depth for the movie (which is pretty much crazy awesome), both to the plot of the story as well as the character's background (or former future - it makes sense, trust me). The interplay of species and the entire game of who trusts who and why made a quick yet intriguing game of politics to follow. The story moves along quickly and a nice introduction to the universe for newbies like me.(less)
I feel like my copy was missing so many pages. Story lines began and then drifted off into the void without mention again. Perhaps they were hoping fo...moreI feel like my copy was missing so many pages. Story lines began and then drifted off into the void without mention again. Perhaps they were hoping for a sequel, I don't know. Almost every time a new issue began, it began as though dozens of things had happened since the last issue and the author just didn't want to tell you.
The art was jarring as well, as it changed stylistically from issue to issue. Not that it wasn't good, but when Martha looks like six different people over the course of a hundred-and-something pages, something is a little bit off.
The story line had a lot of potential, but characters were underutilized and the story *line* became just random plot points somewhere along that line. It needed more.(less)
**spoiler alert** The last page of this book actually made me raise up my arms in some sort of victorious celebration without even thinking about it....more**spoiler alert** The last page of this book actually made me raise up my arms in some sort of victorious celebration without even thinking about it. My boyfriend thought I was a little crazy.
I really like how the story line came together and am interested in seeing what happens to and with the Amazons. Yorick remains an interesting character and 355 is becoming more of a mysterious character the less we learn about her and her shady government organization (if it's really a government organization).(less)
**spoiler alert** While not as edge-of-the-seat as volume 2, I still had a difficult time putting this one down. Yorick's gang adds another member, an...more**spoiler alert** While not as edge-of-the-seat as volume 2, I still had a difficult time putting this one down. Yorick's gang adds another member, and the Israeli's catch up to them. Some unexpected things with how the encounter turned out.
The secondary story in the last two issues came out of nowhere and I'm really curious if there will be any explanation regarding to how Ampersand ended up in the forest and what's up with the ninja. Then again... there's now a ninja.
So apparently I finished reading this volume awhile ago, since I'm reading the free online version. I really enjoy the characterization of the FA and,...moreSo apparently I finished reading this volume awhile ago, since I'm reading the free online version. I really enjoy the characterization of the FA and, even though I sometimes forget who is which where, the specific mannerisms and speech patterns of each character are unique enough that I can tell them apart without specific names.
Since I don't know where volume 3 officially began and volume 2 ended, I'll just say that the story is very intriguing and the art is gorgeous. It's a lovely treat the read during my lunch break on Fridays.(less)
The story of how John Winchester became a hunter after the tragic firey death of his wife has always been an intriguing one not answered through the c...moreThe story of how John Winchester became a hunter after the tragic firey death of his wife has always been an intriguing one not answered through the canon of the show. This version of the story, involving characters either only briefly mentioned or shown in the show, was intriguing. Too bad it was completely overwhelmed by the awful artwork.
I actually laughed the first time they show little Sam and Dean in a panel because they are drawn in such a way that it makes me wonder if the artist has ever seen children before or realized that the boys were about a year and five years old, respectively. The biggest problem that plagued the artwork was the overuse and impractical use of shadows. It looked like lazy art from an artist that realized they were no good at drawing human features, so they'd use impractical shadows to cover up their weaknesses. The artwork was the reason it took me a year and a half to open these comics up even though I've owned each issue since the day of their releases.
But back to the story - the naivete of John, the quick glimpses of early Ellen, Missouri, and Pastor Jim almost made me forget the canon errors littering the first two issues. It almost seemed like whoever wrote and edited the story had never seen the show before. Drawing John Winchester driving a wood paneled station wagon is sacrilege in this fandom.
Despite the awfulness of this series, the second go-round of Rising Son looks much more promising. Here's to hoping they hired an artist for that one.(less)
**spoiler alert** This was brutal. Even after the amount of violence that had plagued Yorick, Agent 355 and Dr. Mann through the first three volumes,...more**spoiler alert** This was brutal. Even after the amount of violence that had plagued Yorick, Agent 355 and Dr. Mann through the first three volumes, I wasn't expecting it to get so dark and gruesome.
After the events at the farm house with the astronauts and the Israelis, I was expecting more exciting spy-like adventures and more Yorick sarcasm. I was not expecting a "suicide intervention" and flashbacks to awkward and scarring childhood memories or of the complete bloodbath that was the second story collection as they tried to pass through a blocked area of the interstate, guarded by some really scary, conspiracy theory-loving, militia ladies.
I also didn't realize that this journey had already lasted over 18 months. It doesn't seem like the travel from Washington, DC, to Arizona, even with the events that have occurred, should have taken nearly that long. Yes, I'm aware that a large portion of that trip was made on foot, but they also have traveled by train, motorcycle and assorted other transports. I just found the comment a little jarring.
It was still an incredibly compelling story and once I started each of the two main stories in the collection, I couldn't put the book back down, but after finishing, I was hesitant to move on to volume 5. Then I saw that the ninja girl that randomly showed up for Ampersand in volume 3 was on the cover, so... now my interest has increased.(less)