Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tradio #44 - The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes

Happy Summer everyone!  This week, we start my summer-long trek into Neil Gaiman's dysfunctional Endless family as I read the complete Sandman regular series and give my thoughts and feelings about the Sandman series as a whole over the course of the summer.  Feel free to read along and will keep things as spoiler-free as possible.  We start at the beginning with The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman with art by Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III and published under the Vertigo line at DC Comics. 
The Sandman.  Morpheus.  The Lord of Dreams.  Or simply Dream to his friends and family.  The Sandman series starts with him brought to his knees by people looking for power over death...or actually Death.  See, a dark cult is looking to harness of the power of the entity Death and gain immortality, but instead they capture Death's brother, Dream.  Trying to make the most of the situation, they steal artifacts from Dream and go about trying to get him to use his power for their gain.  He ignores their requests and waits.  And waits... And waits... Eventually, decades later, the people who trapped him are all dead and he is able to make his escape and is set upon a quest to regain the objects of power lost to him.  From the house down the street, to the very gates of hell, and finally to the dream world itself, Dream must use his power and wisdom to overcome the obstacles put in his way to regain what he has lost.  In the end, we get to experience a nice coda where were meet Dream's sister, Death, in an interesting tale where he gets his act together and finds some new direction in his life.

In many ways the Sandman series itself appears to be reflection of title character and the author in that both are trying to find their way and discover their direction.  The first few issues are a pretty standard quest tale that helps to give the character a voice and set his place in the DC Universe.  If there is something that I wasn't crazy about, it was all the DC character cameos that really didn't seem all that needed.  I can see why they are there to help show that the series is in the DC Universe, but I really don't think they add anything meaningful.  The end issue that introduces the character of Death is really the standout and seems to really be Gaiman himself in the role of Dream being shown that he needs to focus his efforts and give his character a greater purpose and a more focused voice.  It really seems to be setting up what is to come with a series where anything can happen, just like in the dreams that are the focus of the series.  On the art side, Sam Kieth is really the standout and gone way too soon.  His images are dark and scary and amazing.  All in all, a great start to a series and makes me want to keep reading and get more into the world that Gaiman has begun to craft. See you next week for The Doll's House.

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