A good book to me is one that leaves images in your head that pop up out of nowhere throughout the course of a day. This book had many of those imagesA good book to me is one that leaves images in your head that pop up out of nowhere throughout the course of a day. This book had many of those images, often horrific and always haunting. I'm not usually one for romance stories, but the added component of Chrono Displacement disorder (uncontrollable time traveling) gave the story enough of a twist to intrigue me until I found I couldn't put the book down. Having spent a summer in Chicago also added something to the experience because I could often picture where scenes were taking place.
An intriguing concept that was drawn out into a complex narrative that left me emotionally drained and devastated by the time the last page was done. I enjoyed every minute of it even if certain more graphic moments gave me slightly macabre nightmares. I really shouldn't read this stuff before bed......more
It took a marathon reading session that kept me up far too late on a work night, but I finished my re-read and I enjoyed it as much as I remember enjoIt took a marathon reading session that kept me up far too late on a work night, but I finished my re-read and I enjoyed it as much as I remember enjoying it the previous time. I'm particularly fond of how Gaiman goes back and solves plot threads that you've long forgotten were left dangling, even after the story seems to be finished. He's so great at creating not only vivid characters but also a world that is exactly the same as the one we live in while being completely different in every way.
I'm glad I revisited it. Neverwhere is still my favorite Gaiman book, but this story is the most epic of his novels. Definitely worth the revisit....more
Volume 1, consisting of issues 1-8 of the monthly comic, fulfilled every one of my prior disillusions about the series. It’s dMild 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....more
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.