The Sandman, part II
In my continuing project to read the complete Sandman:
Lucifer, however, takes his revenge in a strange way. When Dream arrives, Hell is empty. Lucifer has thrown everyone out, and he announces his retirement and gives the key to Hell to Dream. This throws everything else into confusion, as the previously-damned dead show up on earth and various powers -- Norse gods, agents of chaos, the Fae, angels -- show up to demand this newly-available real estate, or at least keep an eye on things. Poor Morpheus is besieged by demands, and he still has to find his lost love. Who will get Hell? And where is Nada?
*Gaiman imagines Hell in the traditional way, but heavily implies that people wind up there because they expect to, and they are tormented because that's what they expect to have happen. I'm not sure that any of this makes for a coherent universe, but that's not what comics are for.
Meanwhile, in the real world, Barbie is asleep and isn't waking up. The other residents of her building are having horrifying dreams, but one of them knows what to do about it. Maybe together, they'll all be able to rescue Barbie, and themselves as well?
In "Three Septembers and a January," we find out what happens when Despair and Dream have a bet on, and the result is Emperor Norton I, the famous San Francisco personality. "Thermidor" is set in the French Revolution and has a lady doing a very odd favor for Dream, about which we'll find out more. In "The Hunt," a grandfather tells his reluctant granddaughter a story about their ...unusual....family history. "August" shows the elderly Caesar Augustus taking a day to become a beggar because of a dream. "Ramadan" gives us Haroun al Raschid trying to find a way to preserve his fantastic, beautiful city forever (I particularly enjoyed the drawing style in this story, which was different than usual). And the three-part "Orpheus" reveals that the legendary singer was the son of Dream and the muse Calliope, and how the whole tragedy happened.
These are all excellent storylines, really great stuff. Sandman has hit its stride and is really doing some neat things,