Review: THE DREAMING #15
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Bilquis Evely
Colours: Mat Lopes
Letters: Simon Bowland
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
The Dreaming #15: As the second year of the Sandman Universe begins, the sentient algorithm known as Wan is now the acknowledged lord of Dream’s realm, and unquestioned ruler of all his subjects. So it’s a huge problem that Wan is completely insane, and more than capable of wiping out all life in the Dreaming. The question becomes: What can Abel, the only one who knows Wan’s secret, do about it? And what must he do to poor Matthew the Raven to put his plan into action?
Although things seem to have settled down since Wan took over as the Lord of the Dreaming, something is off. Matthew the Raven, with his ability to sense carrion, can sense a rot somewhere, which he attempts to track down.
Similarly, Abel also is aware that something is wrong. Abel has his suspicions about Wan, but he also has his own troubles. With his brother Cain gone, Abel feels Cain’s compulsion to kill. He attempts to fulfill that by killing his baby gargoyle Goldie, but is unable to: “He can’t do it. He must satisfy both primacies, after all. To kill and to die.” Abel is driven to the only possible solution, murdering himself.
Matthew’s exploration of human dreams leads him to discover that Wan’s dominion over the Dreaming is overriding the chaotic nature of dreams with an unnatural order. In particular, we see the effects of this order on four people, three who should be familiar to readers.
One is Nikki Powler, the nixie who was featured in issue #13. It seems that the injection of order into humanity’s dreams may be behind the fading away of her and her fellow mythological beings.
Another is Rose Walker, a character from the original Sandman series, who once was a dream vortex. But now she dreams of dry lectures on Quantum computing.
And the third is most interesting. The character is unnamed, but longtime DC/Vertigo readers should quickly realize is John Constantine – especially if they have read the recent Hellblazer special that has reintroduced Constantine to the Sandman Universe line of books.
Simon Spurrier also wrote that special and soon will be departing for the new Hellblazer ongoing. Did Spurrier just want to throw in a reference to his new gig, or is there some deeper connection between the titles that will be relevant to the Sandman Universe titles in the coming months?
There also seems to be an unrest growing amongst the Dreaming’s other residents. Wan has given them a well-earned vacation from their duties, which serves to demonstrate that Wan is able to manage fully well without them. And if this is true, can Dream (or Morpheus before him) have ever really needed them.
Even worse, Lucien finds himself revived by Wan, who shows him that he has digitized his precious library, which utterly horrifies the poor librarian. Leading him to beg a horrific favour from Abel.
And speaking of horrific, Abel finds a way to investigate Wan by gouging out Matthews eyes and replacing them with his own. This allows them to see the true nature of Wan and also allows Matthew to realize that the reason he couldn’t pinpoint the rot is that it is in everyone – the entire world is sick and dying.
I have to admit that I found that even though gore in comics doesn’t affect me much, that I still felt a unsettled by seeing the gory images of Matthew’s gouged out eyes and Matthew wearing Abel’s, which are way too big for a raven. The story does justify these offputting images, however. I just hope that if The Dreaming is ever adapted into a movie, that this particular occurrence is not included.
While this title is largely a fantasy story, The Dreaming #15 serves as a reminder that there is more than a little horror in its DNA. Spurrier’s time on the title may be drawing to a close, but he has managed to make it a worthy continuation of Gaiman’s Sandman mythos.