Author: Neil Gaiman
The Sandman, vol. 4
My rating: 4 of 5
WARNING: MATURE AUDIENCE
Destiny of the Endless has gathered his siblings together, setting the wheels of fate in motion and sending his brother Dream on a quest to Hell to right an old wrong. But when Morpheus arrives, he finds an empty Hell in which Lucifer declares that he quits and hands Morpheus the key to Hell. And so, the dead return. The demons wander unrestrained. And Dream is left with an unwelcome burden . . . one that many others would gladly relieve him of, whether it would be wise to permit them to or not.
Season of Mists wasn’t my favorite of the Sandman volumes so far (I have an extreme fondness for Dream Country); however, it was certainly intriguing and presented itself as a complete and united tale more than some of the volumes of this graphic novel have. There’s definitely some wonky theology, but it was fascinating to see the juxtaposition of different pantheons and philosophies all vying for Dream’s favor and interacting together in the Dreaming. And Dream’s reactions to all of them most certainly gained him several extra coolness points in my books. It was nice to see some resolution of the Dream/Nada story as well. And ooh, getting to see more development of the Dreaming was very neat; I loved the artistic renderings of that. All in all, Season of Mists was a solid addition to Dream’s story, and it seems to leave us set up for some interesting occurrences in the next volume, which I am looking forward to reading.
On a completely random side note, the creator biographies in this volume are absolute rubbish but well worth reading–utterly random and silly, but very funny.
Covers and Design by Dave McKean/Illustrated by Kelley Jones, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Matt Wagner, Dick Giordano, George Pratt, & P. Craig Russell/Lettered by Todd Klein/Colored by Steve Oliff & Daniel Vozzo
Author: Neil Gaiman
The Sandman, vol. 2
My rating: 4.5 of 5
WARNING: MATURE AUDIENCE
After his long absence from the Dream world and his imprisonment in the world of the living, Morpheus returns to Dream to survey his lands, taking stock of those members who are missing and beginning his search for them. Little does he know that some of his younger siblings among the Endless are stirring up trouble for him in secret. Meanwhile, in the human world, Rose Walker is united in England for the first time with her grandmother Unity (a victim of the sleeping sickness that came over so many children for a time) and subsequently returns to the United States to search for her long-lost little brother in hopes of uniting the family. She meets a number of interesting individuals during her search, including Morpheus himself, unwitting that she herself is a dream vortex that he must deal with or risk the destruction of Dream entirely.
Well, I have to say that, although I was not particularly impressed with the first Sandman comic, Preludes & Nocturnes, Gaiman thoroughly made up for the issues I found in that book in The Doll’s House. It made me regret having waited so long to press on with the series. Whereas Preludes & Nocturnes never truly felt like Gaiman’s work, never really set properly (barring that lovely last chapter), The Doll’s House feels throughout like one of his books. It has the right flavor, the right perspectives on things, the right spark that I can’t properly describe; I can only say that it works. The entire volume reads like a novel, having a cohesive plot with multiple, interlacing stories. It also traces back to stories told in the first volume, actually giving them more weight and purpose in my mind. I really loved all the dream sequences that were a part of this book and the way in which they played into the plot. Even more so, I appreciated the way in which the author discussed the ideas of destiny and fate and free will; you would think this theme would be exhausted by now, but it’s something so integral to humanity that perhaps it will always be a pertinent topic. I like Rose’s character as well; she’s got spunk but she’s also kind of broken, and it’s interesting to see that developed. The art is very well done, although still in a very comic-book style that I’m still gradually adjusting to. Fair warning that this is definitely geared for an adult audience and there’s some pretty gristly violence (though not nearly as bad as the first volume) and some nudity here. I definitely enjoyed reading The Doll’s House and am now actually quite looking forward to future volumes of The Sandman in spite of the series’ rocky start.
Covers & Design by Dave McKean/Illustrated by Mike Dringenberg & Malcolm Jones III/Colored by Zylonol/Lettered by Todd Klein & John Costanza
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrators: Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, & Malcolm Jones III
The Sandman, vol. 1
Over his many unending years of life and influence, he has been called many things: Morpheus, Dream, the Sandman. When an unholy ceremony intended to summon and imprison his older sister Death, Dream finds himself drawn in instead. The items in which he has hidden his power taken from him, he sits in a glass prison for years upon years–so long that his original captors have all died. When Dream finally does manage to escape, he finds himself destitute in a world of chaos, much of his power scattered and in the hands of others. And so, he sets off on a quest to reclaim his powers and restore order to the realm of the night.
I have been a fan of Neil Gaiman ever since I first read Neverwhere and The Graveyard Book ages ago, but it’s only recently that I discovered his work in graphic novels by picking up The Books of Magic. I’ve heard really impressive reviews of The Sandman even before I started reading graphic novels; however, I must say that Preludes & Nocturnes wasn’t really what I expected. There was too much of a usual comic-book feel–the author himself even says in the afterword that he was trying to emulate various traditional comic styles–and honestly, there is altogether too much unnecessary violence and horror. I love Gaiman’s work for its overwhelming fantasy; he doesn’t need to stoop to cheap horror. However, the last chapter gave me hope for greater things from the future volumes of The Sandman, enough that I definitely intend to read on. I do appreciate the unexpected sparks of depth that show up scattered throughout, as well as the many allusions to mythology, literature, etc. . . . although the Justice League allusions just weird me out a bit. As for the art, well, if you’re used to a comic book style, it’s probably normal enough. Maybe even impressive. I haven’t read enough of them to know; I just know that the coloring and style are really strange to someone like me who usually reads manga. So yeah, overall, Preludes & Nocturnes is definitely not my favorite Gaiman work, but I’m holding on judging the story as a whole until I’ve read the other volumes.