[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Bilquis Evely
Colors: Mat Lopes
Letters: Simon Bowland
As the Dreaming slips deeper into chaos, its frightened denizens yearn for strong leaders to guide them back to greatness. Enter Judge Gallows: nightmare of the major arcana, terror of the old frontier, whose thoughts and actions come knotted in hemp…
The issue starts with Judge Gallows’ origin, telling us that he wasn’t so much created as he was condensed from stories of the brutality of the New World’s legal system, and frontier justice often had little to do with what was truly just. Morpheus thus created a new nightmare to reflect what can happen when one human decides “his notion of right is worth more than the life of another.”
Now this nightmare, Judge Ezekiel Gallows, has been called upon by Mervyn Pumpkinhead to set things right in the Dreaming. With Dream missing, things are rapidly falling apart despite Lucien’s best efforts to hold things together. But is Gallows the Dreaming’s best hope or its doom?
There seems to be a fair bit of political parallels that could be drawn to this situation. Gallows promises that he his only there to assess the situation without prejudice and offer his insight to “him who rightfully wields the helm of stewardship” in Dream’s place.
When it finally dawns that Gallows is referring to himself, poor beleaguered Lucien is feels relieved that Gallows taking charge, despite knowing him for a monster. And none of the other major figures of the Dreaming step forward to stop Gallows when he starts showing his true colours.
This issue also marks the return of Brute and Glob, not seen since Gaiman’s original Sandman series. Abel remarks that they have been imprisoned in Dream’s Black Chest for thirty years, which implies that those events take place that long ago in real-time. This raises some interesting questions about how the events of the Sandman Universe books relate to the timeline of the DCU. However, it could be explained away by time working differently in the Dreaming than in the waking world.
Speaking of Abel, something strange seems to be going on with the caretaker of the House of Secrets. The normally nervous storyteller seems to be losing his stammer and gaining confidence. Has something happened to change Abel’s character, or has someone or something else taken his place?
We also find out Dora’s secret, which is that she isn’t real. However, what this actually means isn’t made clear to us. However, the revelation proves devastating to her, rendering her catatonic.
And Gallows pronounces sentence on Lucien, but it’s not exactly clear what happened to the Librarian. Was he wiped from existence or merely cast out of the dreaming – and if so, then where was he cast to?
The only thing that I see as a drawback is that we haven’t seen any follow-up about what Dream has been up to since leaving the Dreaming. So many questions have been left unanswered. Why did he leave? Where did he go? Will he be coming back?
We don’t even know if his absence is meant to be just long enough to spark the current storyline, or if it will be forever. I don’t expect Spurrier to reveal all right away, but a few hints as to whether this will be an extended absence or not.
The Dreaming is one of the better titles of the Sandman Universe books so far. It brings back a number Neil Gaiman’s beloved characters and concepts, but it moves the story forward with some new characters and new situations. It feels like a proper continuation of Gaiman’s classic story.