I’m a relative latecomer to Neil Gaiman, but that’s made the journey all the more pleasurable for even getting there in the first place. I’ve read several novels, and am currently wanting some graphic novels in the mix. So it was an ideal time to start The Sandman series. I was intrigued by the premise, by Gaiman’s immense talent as a writer and storyteller, and by the merging of art and text.
The first volume of The Sandman, titled Preludes and Nocturnes, introduces us to the The Sandman, also known as The Dream. The younger brother of Death, Dream is captured by Roderick Burgess, a man obsessed with immortality and wanting to conquer Death. Dream awaits captive for many years until Burgess dies and he is able to outsmart Burgess’s son Alexander. In the meantime, several people were incapacitated by their inability to wake up. Dream sets out to retrieve his dream talismans in order to reestablish himself: a pouch of sand, a helmet, and a ruby. He must team up with John Constantine to find the sand, fight through the depths of Hell to regain the helmet, and square off against the murderous and unstable John Dee to grab the ruby. The story is engrossing, disturbing, and fantastic.
What I liked about this graphic novel was the way in which Gaiman explored the unstable and nebulous nature of dreams. John Dee is a terrifying nemesis, and Dream a complex and complicated protagonist. I’m excited to see how Dream’s adventures continue and how the series expands.