Writers: Neil Gaiman, Matt Wagner
Artists: Teddy Kristiansen, Yoshitaka Amano, Dave McKean, P. Craig Russell, Milo Manara, Miguelanxo Prado, Barron Storey, Bill Sienkiewicz, Glenn Fabry, Frank Quitely
Color Artists: Teddy Kristiansen, Yoshitaka Amano, Lovern Kindzierski, Christopher Chuckry
Letterer: Todd Klein
Reviewed by: Steve J. Ray
Review copy courtesy of Penguin Random House – ISBN: 9781779521514
The Sandman: Book Five is the penultimate omnibus collecting the complete Sandman saga, as written by the character’s creator, Neil Gaiman.
This volume collects Sandman: Midnight Theatre, co-written by Matt Wagner, Sandman: The Dream Hunters, a hauntingly illustrated novella that reads like a Japanese folk-tale, and the complete Sandman: Endless Nights, an anthology with seven beautifully illustrated stories, one for Dream and each of his siblings.
From cover to cover, this book contains nothing but positives.
Here’s the breakdown, from Penguin Random House:
Neil Gaiman’s award-winning masterpiece
The Sandman continues here,
filled with the art from the medium’s most gifted talent.
Sandman: Book Five collects Sandman Midnight Theatre, Sandman: The Dream Hunters, and Sandman: Endless Nights!
Midnight Theatre takes place in the late 1930’s. A mysterious suicide leads the Golden Age Sandman (Wesley Dodds) to a dark circle of mystics known as the Order of Ancient Mysteries. The Order holds a number of disturbing secrets… and the greatest of these is Morpheus, the imprisoned Dream King!
Sandman: The Dream Hunters is a love story, set in ancient Japan. Telling the story of a humble young monk and a magical, shape-changing fox who find themselves romantically drawn together.
As their love blooms, the fox learns of a devilish plot by a group of demons to steal the monk’s life. With the aid of Morpheus, the King of All Night’s Dreamings, the fox must use all of her cunning and creative thinking to foil this evil scheme and save the man that she loves.
In Sandman: Endless Nights, Neil Gaiman explores all seven of The Endless siblings: Destiny, Death, Dream, Desire, Despair, Delirium, and Destruction.
Doesn’t that already leave you hungry for more?
Sandman: Midnight Theatre
What some people may not know is that Neil Gaiman’s Sandman was not the first character to go by that name. The original comic book Sandman, Wesley Dodds, first appeared in New York World’s Fair Comics #1 (April 1939) and was created by writer, Gardner Fox and artist, Bert Christman.
He was followed by Garret Sandford, first appearing in The Sandman #1 (December 1974), and created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (although he was never named as Sanford until a story written by Roy Thomas, from Wonder Woman #300 – February 1983).
The third Sandman was Hector Hall, who was also known as the Silver Scarab. Hector was the son of Carter (Hawkman) Hall and first appeared in Infinity Inc. #50 (May 1988).
Neil Gaiman masterfully made his Sandman, Morpheus of The Endless, the original, and brilliantly wove his predecessors’ histories in with those of his own. Sandman: Midnight Theatre is set during the time when Morpheus was held captive on Earth by Roderick Burgess and shows the first and only physical meeting between the Golden Age Sandman and Gaiman’s creation.
This is a dark detective story, magnificently written by Neil and Matt Wagner (the writer of Wesley Dodds’ own title, Sandman: Mystery Theatre). It contains stunning art by Teddy Kristiansen that marries the worlds of the two Sandmen beautifully.
Sandman: The Dream Hunters
Wow. Where do I even begin? This story evokes Japanese folk tales so perfectly, that when Gaiman said it was based on an tale from ancient Japanese myth, fans all over the world scoured the archives, in vain, searching for it. In later years the writer had to admit that the story was a brand new creation of his own to stop fans going crazy.
This tale is simply beautiful. In fact, it’s so great that it was adapted into comic book form form by long time Gaiman collaborator, P. Craig Russell, a few years later.
This gorgeous tale is hauntingly illustrated by legendary Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano. The fully painted artwork is ethereal and dream-like, which blends perfectly with the high fantasy romance tapestry that Gaiman has weaved. It’s no wonder that so many people were fooled into believing that this was a Japanese fairytale.
The Sandman: Endless Nights
As someone who owns all the individual Sandman issues, and the tales gathered here in their first edition forms, having this collection in an easy to carry and read paperback edition is wonderful. It’s no secret that I love the Sandman Universe, and have done so for over thirty years. These short stories, each one focusing on an individual member of Dream’s family, are simply stunning.
We get horror, insanity, misery, love, and everything in-between in these stories. All are illustrated by masters of the craft, like Dave McKean, Bill Sienkiewicz, Milo Manara, Frank Quitely, Glenn Fabry, Miguelanxo Prado, P. Craig Russell, and Barron Storey. These are tales that will blow your mind and are a feast for the eyes.
We also get to meet the original incarnation of Despair, wonder about what really happened to Krypton, and learn where the sibling rivalry/enmity between Dream and Desire truly began.
We have months to wait until the release of Book Six.
This final volume will collect the four-issue comic book version of Sandman: The Dream Hunters, the complete six-issue series Sandman: Overture, and 2018’s Sandman Universe #1, which led to all the current comics series, still in publication.
With these six books, and the collected Death by Neil Gaiman (ISBN: 9781401247164), readers will be able to own the complete, official Sandman library, as written by its creator, Neil Gaiman, in the most cost effective way. Books one to four contain the original 76 issue run (Numbers #1-#75, and the 1991 Sandman Special: “The Song Of Orpheus”) plus several short stories from other publications.
The Sandman: Book Five collects the first wave of tales that were released after the original series ended. This book is simply beautiful and remains essential reading, even three decades after the stories contained within its pages were originally released. These dreams and nightmares will stay in your mind and heart long after you finish reading them, and every page of art is sublime.
The book comes out on February 14th, so will make the perfect Valentine’s day gift for the Sandman or Neil Gaiman fan in your life.
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment