The Sandman Omnibus, Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Once upon a time, a few years before the turn of the century, I decided I was too cool for super hero comics and read a lot of darker, mature readers only type of stuff. The Sandman was at the front of the pack for a long time. My mom unexpectedly bought me this big honkin' omnibus for Christmas so I've busted it into chunks for reviewing purposes.
Preludes and Nocturnes: After decades of imprisonment at the hands of a group of magicians, Dream escapes and sets about reclaiming what is his...
My nineteen year old self was originally drawn to The Sandman because Sam Kieth of The Maxx, Vol. 1 did the art on some of the early issues. Funny considering how my 38 year old self thinks his art is the weakest part of the collection.
I'd forgotten some of the wrinkles of this tale in the years since I last read it. In some ways, it was like coming home after a long time to find things haven't changed much. While this is far from the best Sandman volume, Gaiman hit the ground running and set the stage for future volumes, mining seldom-used corners of the DC universe and various mythologies to create what is essentially a revenge story.
The Doll's House: Morpheus discovers four major dreams are missing from The Dreaming and dispatches Matthew the Raven to investigate. But what do the missing dreams have to do with the vortex that threatens the Dreaming? And how does an earth girl named Rose Walker figure into things?
The second arc does a good job of fleshing out The Dreaming and what Morpheus actually does when he's not imprisoned. Rose Walker and Gilbert are great characters, and I love that Gaiman actually references the lame 1970's version of The Sandman.
The Corinthian and the Serial Killers convention are some of my favorite parts of the early days of the series and are just as interesting as when I first read about them back in the day. Since originally reading this, I've of course read the series in its entirety and The Sandman: Overture so a few things make even more sense.
Dream Country: Tales of a muse, cats, Shakespeare, and Element Girl.
These were fill-in tales between arcs. The Dream of a Thousand Cats was light years ahead of the rest.
Seasons of Mist: Dream goes to hell to retrieve Nada's soul but doesn't find what he's looking for...
While I loved The Doll's House, Seasons of Mist is where the Sandman really took off for me the first time around. This time, it's still one of my favorite comic book stories of all time. Lucifer dumps Hell on Dream and he's forced to deal with it? Awesome stuff.
Side Note: I really liked that there was a P.G. Wodehouse book in the Library. Psmith and Jeeves? We could only be so lucky.
Distant Mirrors: Distant Mirrors was a trio of stories featuring Johnna Constantine, Augustus Caesar, and Joshua Norton, Emperor of America.
The fill-in stories weren't my favorites but they all had their moments. It's funny that Christopher Moore has also used the Emperor in stories.
A Game of You: Barbie's dreams are taking over and the Children of the Cuckoo will soon be upon our world. The only thing standing between them and conquest are Barbie and her housemates: a book worm, a transvestite, and a lesbian couple.
For a tale that didn't feature much of The Sandman, I really dug A Game of You. Barbie from The Doll's House is back and her dream world is in chaos. There is some gruesome stuff in this one but I love all of the characters. Thessaly, Foxglove, Hazel, and Wanda were very well done. Morpheus was good too, I guess. The cuckoo was suitably creepy. For some reason, I got a really Doctor Who-ish vibe from the Cuckoo storyline.
Song of Orpheus: When Eurydice dies on her wedding day, her husband Orpheus, son of Morpheus and Calliope, goes to the underworld to bring her back.
This is a retelling of the classic myth, recast with some Sandman characters. While mostly a retread, it's an interesting little tale that fleshes out the past relationship between Calliope and Morpheus.
Conclusion: I'm pleased to say I don't have to secure a time machine and punch my twenty year old self in the junk. The Sandman is as good or better than I remembered and I understood more of the references this time around. I will say that this omnibus was a little awkward to read due to its immense size but I knew that going in. Practical matters aside, I can easily award this five out of five stars.
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