Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country: The Glass House – Collected Edition
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists: Lisandro Estherren, Patricio Delpeche
Color Artist: Patricio Delpeche
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Text Page Designer (Thessaly Special): AndWorld Design
Reviewed by Steve J. Ray


The second volume of James Tynion IV’s take on The Sandman UniverseNightmare Country: The Glass House is finally here!

This gorgeous hardcover edition includes all six chapters of The Glass House and the one-shot Thessaly special. The dust jacket art, featuring the Corinthian, and the main cover, with the King of Pain, are both by Reiko Murakami. Also collected are all the main and variant covers.

New York artist, Madison Flynn, has been murdered by the re-animated corpse of her best friend, Kelly (AKA “Kells”). Now, the reborn Corinthian, along with Madison’s spirit, are both on the trail of the deadly duo behind Kelly’s murder, Mr. Agony and Mr. Ecstasy.

The two rogue nightmares killed Madison, and others because they could see a new nightmare, The Smiling Man, during waking hours. More troubling still, this nightmare was seemingly not a creation of Dream. To add even more fuel to the fire, it seems that Agony and Ecstasy had been commissioned to commit these murders by Desire, Dream’s younger sibling and frequent adversary.

Madison has been granted new flesh by Death of The Endless, at her brother Dream’s behest. Neither one seems to know of Desire’s involvement at this moment in time.


Nightmare Country‘s back! Thankfully Lisandro Estherren, Patricio Delpeche, and Simon Bowland have returned, alongside James Tynion. This issue cleverly picks up exactly where volume one left off, adding new characters to the tale and, by the end of the book, bringing back yet another huge presence from Neil Gaiman’s original Sandman run. We also meet another old “friend” from the classic “The Doll’s House” saga, again.

There are still people out there who have also seen The Smiling Man, and we can only wonder how long it will be before Agony and Ecstasy will be on their trail. Add a whole ton of supernatural intrigue, clubs that no one should want to be a member of, and the return of Kells, and this is one super-loaded graphic novel!

It may be hard to believe, but the art and colors by Lisandro and Patricio have actually improved since volume one. This book looks amazing, and Madison’s new form made me very happy indeed. The nods to the first arc are wonderful, and the love for the entire Sandman Universe, as created by Neil Gaiman, is palpable.

Simon Bowland also continues to impress with his letters, particularly when they clearly differentiate humans from angels, demons, and Endless.

James Tynion is sick, twisted, and terrifying. Great work, sir… keep it up. The saga of Kels and Max is as dark a love story as I could ever dream of and features a set of circumstances beyond my wildest imaginings. How does he even think this stuff up? Kelly’s just the sweetest… entity/ghost/spirit and I’m sure the undead deserve love too, right? Of course, when her beau, Max, discovers who she was and what she did; cats, pigeons, cans, and worms will be all over the place.

Kelly’s one of the residents of “The King Of Pain”, a nightclub that links our plane to Hell itself. This is the place where the richest, and those in their employ, can cater to all their most twisted needs and desires… or should that be Desires? Of course, we now know that Agony and Ecstasy, the evil duo who killed Kelly and forced her to kill Madison, were working for Desire of The Endless, one of the younger siblings of Destiny, Death, and Dream.

The addition of Thessaly as a main character opens up a world of storytelling possibilities that this exceptional creative team is grasping with both hands and running with.

Never in my wildest imaginings could I ever have believed that love between an undead girl and a mortal man could feel beautiful and real, but Max and Kells are so brilliantly written and drawn that I can’t help but root for them. Thessaly has always been infuriating, and now that she knows who’s been pulling the strings, even hers (from waaay back in the original Sandman series) I know that sparks are going to fly. Will she and Daniel’Dream cross paths?

Seeing Azazel, The King Of Pain, Dream, and his siblings in this book always makes me happy, so this book ticked a lot of boxes.

The creeping horror continues to unnerve and disturb, in the most delicious and entertaining ways. Is the Corinthian going to revert to type? Is he really working with Madison and Dream, or with the demon Azazel? Knowing the mind of James Tynion, I think we’ll get an answer somewhere between those two extremes that will both surprise and delight us.

All the breadcrumbs James Tynion’s been dropping since Nightmare Country volume one are starting to bear fruit, including the huge bombshell that closed the story. Dream has become embroiled in the events occurring in this series, so I can’t wait to witness the fireworks when he discovers that, once again, one of his younger siblings is neck-deep in the whole mess. In fact, it looks like they’re the one who’s behind the whole scenario.

I’ve been following Dream and his siblings since day one, so seeing them honored and homaged in great new comics makes me very happy indeed.

The secret of the Smiling Man has haunted readers for close to two years now and the story of Madison Flynn has been a source of terror and delight the entire time. Seeing her, The Corinthian, Max, and Kells get swept upon by a wave of demons, serial killers and the whims of The Endless has made this series feel closer to Gaiman’s classic than any other spin-off/follow-up that’s come before.

The power that Dream displays in this collection is nothing short of awesome. The way he handles both his creations and his various enemies is unbelievable. Tynion’s take on Daniel is perfect; he’s got the will and determination of Morpheus, but an edge and confidence that the original Dream never possessed.

First, let me say straight off the bat, that Thessaly is a horrible person. However, she’s a fascinating, deep, and extremely complex character. I’ve followed her story since her first appearance in issue #32 of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (1991). She’s gone from being a terrifying, bigoted, and ultra-powerful witch in “A Game Of You“, to Dream’s lover, magical avenger, and force of nature in her more recent appearances.

James Tynion has a real grasp on the character and is finally showing us her past in Nightmare Country: The Glass House. By doing so, he lets us see some of the moments that made and forged her. The brilliant part is that all of this fits in with what we’ve already seen of her over the decades, honoring what her creator has already told us about her while adding more flesh to the bones of her history. I must also laud the way James creates new side characters that I immediately fall in love with. They’re all so flawed, human, and real!

Maria Lovet is a wonderful artist who gives readers a Thessaly as great as the one drawn by her co-creator, the inimitable Colleen Doran. The art in the chapter starring Thessaly is gorgeous; simple, clean, atmospheric, and, dare I say it, magical. This great story works both as a follow-up to The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country #6 and as a chapter in the ongoing saga of Madison Flynn.

Yes, the writing, art, and Simon Bowland’s lettering in this book are (as always) first-rate, but I think I need to name guest creators AndWorld Design (AKA Deron Bennett) as the MVP of Thessaly’s tale.

I love experimental comics, and DC has been spoiling us recently with issues that tell a story as one continuous 20-page image, an entire story seen from one character’s POV, and the incomparable DC Black Label horror series, The Nice House On The Lake (also written by James Tynion). This chapter contains entire pages dedicated to text and art that are so seamlessly intertwined, that the reader’s left wondering whether the artist, colorist, or letterer was responsible for the final result. With this story, I finally have my answer.

The tale features several text pages, but they’re so lovely to look at that you’d be completely justified in calling them works of art. Some look like ancient scrolls, others like pages from a storybook, and yet others like a movie script (the scroll pages are featured below).

AndWorld didn’t just letter these pages. No. Just like the way they did in TNHOTL they imagined and executed the designs, created the textures, and provided the color. As usual, I’ve been left in awe. I cannot understand people who don’t see comics as true literature or art, because, for me, they’re the perfect marriage of both.


How long until the final volume? Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh!


The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country: The Glass House closes with style and power. James Tynion’s foray into Neil Gaiman’s world of dreams and nightmares has never disappointed, and with the final act of this incredible dark fantasy/horror coming in 2024, a clash between Dream and Desire (and possibly Despair too, if the cover for the final chapter’s anything to go by) is edging ever closer.

A war is coming, and I can’t wait. The final chapters of this tale are tantalizingly close, but still just beyond our reach. I will wait, however impatiently, as I know what’s coming will deliver a story for the ages. This book gives readers the perfect close to this arc while leaving us all begging for more. Like the winter season itself, the wait will be a long, cold one… but one I believe will ultimately be worth it.

I’ll see you all again in dreams.

Review Copy Courtesy of Penguin Random House. Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country: The Glass House Collected Edition is available now from all good book and comic retailers: ISBN 9781779520722

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