Reviews 

“Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman” #7-9

By | June 22nd, 2022
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

A battle, a family reunion, and a love story all make up today’s trio of issues of “The Sandman,” with one thing in common: a continued character study of Morpheus.

Cover by Dave McKean

Written by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Malcolm Jones III and Mike Dringenberg
Colored by Daniel Vozzo
Lettered by Tom Klein

Morpheus finally faces off with Dr. Destiny for the final piece of the Dream King’s objects of power – the Dreamstone! Warring across the landscape of The Dreaming, the two beings wage psychological war with the fate of the universe hanging in the balance!

Cover by Dave McKean

Written by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Malcolm Jones III and Mike Dringenberg
Colored by Daniel Vozzo
Lettered by Tom Klein

Spend a day with Dream as he catches up with his younger sister, Death, in search of inspiration. When the King of Dreams is depressed, can even a pep talk from Death set him on the right path?

Cover by Dave McKean

Written by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Malcolm Jones III and Mike Dringenberg
Colored by Zylonol
Lettered by Tom Klein

A mystery that began 10,000 years ago has its impact on the present as the secret of the Sandman’s love life is explored.

 

It’s mortal versus immortal for the possession of the Dreamstone as we kick of this week’s Binge. And while these are three very different stories, their common thread is the characterization they provide for our lead character.

Let’s consider issue #7 first, which features Dr. Destiny and Morpheus battling in the Dreamworld for the right to the Dreamstone. It’s a battle of wits which Dr. Destiny thinks he has the upper hand because he still has the Dreamstone.  Destroy it, and he wins.  Or so he thinks, for Morpheus has the last laugh.

What do we learn in this issue? Morpheus is one step ahead.

But we also learn that Morpheus has kindness. Rather than damn Dr. Destiny to an eternity of torture as punishment, he simply takes him home to Arkham where he knows he will find peace and receive care.  At some point, his anger transformed into compassionate pity, something that’s not made clear in this issue (and something I hope we explore more in future issues).  There is a thread of humanity in this non-human being after all.

That thread of humanity continues in issue #8, which serves as a coda of sorts to the final battle. Morpheus meets up with his sister Death in Paris, and even though he has everything he wants, he’s not feeling himself.  It’s our first look at the ever popular Death, who actually looks more human than her younger brother. Her skin has a lighter flesh tone to it, her face is rounder and more open, and her personality could be best described as Goth Manic Pixie Dream Girl.  But when she gets to work, she spares no expense, taking the lives of an older man, a comedian on stage and in the most heartbreaking turn of all, a baby.  Like her brother, she does have a modicum of compassion in her, gently acclimating her subjects to their new state and even flirting with a young man playing soccer near the Arc de Triomphe. (And yes, she does see him again, and in the way you think.)

What do we learn in this issue? Morpheus is not immune to sadness and existential questions of “what’s next?” 

At this point, we’ve reached the end of the first collected trade, and issue #9 is another one-shot, focusing on a love story from the past set in the African desert.  It is the story of Nada, a woman ruler who never knew love until she ventured into the Dreaming and found Morpheus himself.  But rather than accept his love, she turned his back on him, knowing that pain would come from the relationship. It’s unclear what happened to Nada in the end – – this is a story passed down in oral tradition, and the way the men tell it, Nada ended up in Hell for eternity.  But the grandfather telling his grandson this tale notes that the women have a different version of the story, which could have a happier ending (even if it is the same ending). It’s a lesson in the importance of perspective.

Continued below

What do we learn in this issue? Morpheus can love, and be loved in return.

With these three issues, there’s also a change in artistic team for the book, as Mike Dringenberg, who worked with Sam Kieth on the first four issues, takes over for him.  His familiarity ensures artistic continuity with room for creativity to match tone in these three different stories.  Issues #7 and #8 feature borderless panels against solid backgrounds – – black for the battle in issue #7, white in issue #8.  Each makes color work take on a surreal tone throughout, as it has in the previous six issues.  The most realistic use of color occurs in issue #9, with earth tones for a story set in the desert.  Even when Nada journeys to the Dreaming, it isn’t as surreal as previous trips, perhaps giving a hint to the eventual end of the story where she rejects the Dreamworld and Morpheus’s love for her own.

Although he only appears in one issue, there is fantastic artistic language for Dr. Destiny that adds characterization.  Lettering on his text is jagged and imprecise, showing how disconnected he is from reality. But once he enters the Dreamworld, the lettering smooths itself out and looks more traditional.  It gives the reader (well, this reader) pause to consider if the Dreamworld is his reality and what is our real world is really his dreams. (Remember that he does find peace and sleep once he is returned to Arkham.)  And while I speak of color and its significance in setting up the bizarre, it’s the absence of color in several panels and pages – – particularly when Dr. Destiny thinks he’s defeated Morpheus, that makes him look rather small and frail, setting up what will be his eventual defeat.

The first leg of Morpheus’ journey is now over, and he – – and the reader – – now must consider the question of “what’s next” both for him and for his series.  Let the second chapter of Morpheus’s return begin.


Next week we’ll take a look at issues #10-12, where dreams escape and wreak their havoc.

If you want to read along with me this summer, single issues and trades are available through comiXology. As of this writing, the first eight issues of the comic are also available on DC Universe Infinite.  You can also check your local library for trade and collected editions of the series.


//TAGS | 2022 Summer Comics Binge

Kate Kosturski

Kate Kosturski is your Multiversity social media manager, a librarian by day and a comics geek...well, by day too (and by night). Kate's writing has also been featured at PanelxPanel, Women Write About Comics, and Geeks OUT. She spends her free time spending too much money on Funko POP figures and LEGO, playing with yarn, and rooting for the hapless New York Mets. Follow her on Twitter at @librarian_kate.

EMAIL | ARTICLES


  • Squadron Supreme 4 featured Reviews
    “Squadron Supreme” #4

    By | Jun 30, 2022 | Reviews

    Four issues into “Squadron Supreme,” and the series hasn’t shied away from difficult subject matter. The series opened with superheroes building a utopia. And the most recent issue tackled the topic of complete disarmament, and all the controversies that would be sure to follow. Somewhere in there was not-Batman chickening out on an assassination attempt […]

    MORE »
    Reviews
    “Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman” #10-12

    By | Jun 29, 2022 | Reviews

    The next major arc of “The Sandman” kicks off in this Summer Comics Binge, ‘The Doll’s House.’ Dreams are loose from the Dreamworld in our real world, wreaking havoc – – and the key to saving the world could be a 21 year old woman named Rose Walker in search of her brother.Written by Neil […]

    MORE »

    -->