[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Abigail Larson
Colours: Quinton Winter
Letters: Simon Bowland
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
A pale god has wandered the Earth, banished and bound. For one ill-fated family, he leaves only the wreckage of a cataclysmic romance. As the Dreaming convalesces after its recent upheavals, at long last it’s time to follow the footsteps of its absent master. But we must tread lightly. For where Dream walks, heartbreak follows.
I have really been enjoying the new Sandman Universe titles, but this issue of The Dreaming was an a whole different level altogether. It was as if Lucien had invited us into his library to lend us an issue of the original Sandman series that Neil Gaiman had never got around to writing in the open world.
Gaiman is overseeing the new Sandman Universe line, but I don’t know what his involvement with this particular story is, but either he was taking a direct hand in this story or Simon Spurrier is doing a masterful job of channeling Gaiman.
Since the Sandman Universe special, I have been dying to know what’s going on with Dream, and it’s been somewhat frustrating that the initial storyline in The Dreaming has been dangling this important plot thread with no updates and precious few hints. But with the first story arc finished, we now are starting to see what Daniel has been up to, and it’s about damn time.
One of the hallmarks of The Sandman was how Gaiman wove all the seemingly different plots together. Characters in one story would turn out to be acquainted with or related to other characters, while other characters would depart and return.
Spurrier has echoed this by bringing back Rose Walker, who was a major figure in the early story The Doll’s House. Also, we briefly return to the manor Fawny Rig where Morpheus was imprisoned for 70 years in the very first issue of The Sandman. These elements go a long way towards making this story feel like a legitimate part of Gaiman’s masterpiece series.
I was also relieved to see that Lucien survived the traumatic events he suffered in the previous arc. I was worried that might have been the end of the Dreaming’s librarian. Almost certainly not coincidentally, Lucien is recovering in the same hospital where Rose’s mother is slowly dying.
And to top it all off, Dream’s sister/brother makes an appearance. Desire was the original series magnificent bastard and appears to be once again the architect of the Sandman’s current woes. It will be interesting to see if how their conflict will develop and if any of the other Endless will show up as well.
Abigail Larson joins the creative team this issue as artist. Her artwork is quite pleasing and fits the mood of the story well. I can’t put my finger on who exactly, but her art evokes the feel of Gaiman’s original series. I looked online at other examples of her work and her style appears a bit different here, which leads me to suspect she is purposely trying to do so. If so, she has succeeded admirably.
I find that placing the new Sandman Universe titles thirty years after the events of the original Sandman series introduces some perplexing continuity questions.
I also realize that the current line is purposely being kept separate from the main DC Universe, the connections cannot be denied. The original title was set in the DCU before the advent of Vertigo Comics, and featured occasional DCU character appearances, even after becoming a Vertigo title.
Thirty years have passed in the Sandman Universe titles, but much less time in the DCU. Does this mean that the new titles are set in the DCU’s future? I know that I should just try to ignore such things and concentrate on enjoying the story, but as a longtime DC fan, these kind of questions bother me.
This issue is a delightful surprise in an already excellent series. Even readers who haven’t been following the new Sandman Universe titles would enjoy this book if they enjoyed the Neil Gaiman’s original Sandman series. It’s almost like getting a previously unpublished Sandman chapter.