Sunday, 6 November 2011

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman

For a long time, this series was my favourite comic. I do not say that lightly. I stumbled across the series with no hype reaching me, and as a result it blew me away. It is a saga following the life of one of the seven "Endless". The Endless are physical anthropomorphous personifications of aspects that are apparent in all life;Death,Desire,Destruction, Delirium(formerly Delight),Destiny, Despair and our protagonist Dream.
Dream, or Morpheus, is a tall pale individual who bears more that a passing resemblance to the Robert Smith of The Cure.He is detached and distant,due to being so old, yet is still capable of  naivety and immaturity. He resides within the realm which all people frequent when they dream, and his main duty is to continue to allow people to dream. Despite his distant demeanour, he surrounds himself with a plethora of personalities that make for some downright surreal interactions between characters.

One of the most interesting aspects of this universe is the fact that every religion is correct and that all the major deities exist. This includes all concepts of the afterlife depending on what the individual believed. This is explored through the complex relations and politics that exist between these individuals and pantheons (and on a side note, the Norse Gods are an interspiritual incident waiting to happen).  The endless are not subservient to the deities, and they address each other with a mutual respect.

The start of our story finds Dream having been held captive for several decades by an occult obsessed cult leader. He  eventually makes his escape, not before visiting his revenge on the parties responsible, then returns to find that his absence has allowed his home realm to fall into stagnation. The story then follows all the events that occur from this initial trigger, and allows you a whistle-stop tour of the entirety of creation. 

This series is considered by some to be one of the crowning jewels in the DC comics crown, alongside such titans as Watchmen and The Dark Night Returns.It is well earned and the entire series will change the way you look at stories in general.  Cameos from lesser-known DC characters occur, with notable appearances by John Constantine, Dr Destiny, and even Batman and Superman shortly at the end.

The series itself ran for 75 issues, but that figure does not address the numerous spin-off titles and characters that originated from this. This series was the first to define Lucifer as a doppelganger for David Bowie, an image that stuck with him through his own series later. it ran from 1989 to 1996 and helped to lead the way as one of the flagship titles for the Vertigo label alongside Swamp Thing, Black Orchid and Shade:The Changing Man.

This simplest and best thing I can say about this story is that it made me remember why I enjoy stories.