The Sandman, part II

 Sandman, vols. 4, 5, and 6, by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, et. al

 In my continuing project to read the complete Sandman:

Season of Mists, 1991: Death points out to Dream that 10,000 years ago, he was a real jerk.  In an earlier issue, this story was told; Dream fell in love with a mortal woman from an early civilization, but in punishment for this illicit affair, her city was destroyed.  She killed herself in atonement, and her refusal to join Morpheus made him so angry that he sentenced her to Hell*.  Now he realizes that that was maybe kind of a mean thing to do -- so he's going to have to go down and get her out.  This is a difficult job, because Lucifer is angry at him and has vowed revenge.

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.

A Game of You, 1991:  One of the outer skerries of the Dream realm is about to fall apart, which is a thing that happens.  Barbie -- who was a side character in an earlier story -- has not dreamed for the past two years, since that...strange thing...happened.  Before that, she'd spent every night in an ongoing dream, in which she was Princess Barbara, on a quest with her friends.  Now she's back in her old dreamworld, but things have gone badly.  The Cuckoo is taking over, and her minions are everywhere.  Barbie and the friends who have survived still have their quest to fulfil, and the Cuckoo to defeat.

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?

Fables and Reflections, 1991: A collection of disparate stories that usually have something to do with history.  

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 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,


  1. You're really making me want to go back and reread! My instinct has been that (the trans character in) A Game of You won't hold up tremendously well in 2021, but even so I'm interested to find out. Does Fables and Reflections not contain A Parliament of Rooks? Is that a different volume? (This just proves how much I need to reread.)

    Ooh, and also, have you heard the audio drama of this on Amazon? And also also, are you anticipating the new streaming TV series of Sandman? They cast Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death which tbh was enough to get me all in immediately.

    1. I thought A Game of You didn't do as badly as I might have expected? You should read it and see. And yes, a Parliament of Rooks is in there, I just didn't list every single story because I thought it was starting to sound weird. :)

    2. I know the audio drama exists, but haven't heard it. I'd like to, apparently it's great. And I'll be very interested to see how to the series turns out, if Gaiman is involved enough it will probably be fantastic.


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