The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman, is a multi-splendored horror story that combines a pulp horror with an urban fantasy setting that includes Shakespearean and otherworldly characters. What begins as a story about Morpheus, the immortal King of Dreams, and his quest for redemption slowly evolves into something even larger: a story about the stories themselves and their essential connection to humanity.
The original 75-issue series, as well as its diverse constellation of spinoff series and books, is a multifarious anthology of beautifully illustrated and brilliantly told stories that span the gamut from bone-chilling to heart-breaking.
Weve compiled a list of some of our favorite books and issues from the comic for anyone wanting to know more about the original series' universe. Good reading.
24 Hours (Issue #6)
The Sandman began its life as a horror comic before becoming something much more. 24 Hours is a horror adaptation of Sandman at its finest levels: shady, haunting, and enraged, a one-act play in which diner patrons slowly become mad together.
John Dee, a DC Comics villain who has received the Dreams ruby, which transforms his body into a ghoulish appearance. Recently freed, Dee joins a diner and makes his first customers his first victims using the rubies' abilities to manipulate their desires and admonition.
Sandman explains that dreams and nightmares go hand in hand, and that one cannot exist without the other. 24 Hours applies that principle to the kinds of dreams we have when awake: secret ambitions, desires, and fame. They are the stuff we build our lives on, but they also are our unsovement, and the most frightening thing about them is that we do not need the cruel supernatural push of John Dee to be consumed by them.
The Sound of Her Wings (Issue #8)
In my opinion, no other issue of The Sandman stands out as more definitive than issue 8, The Sound of Her Wings, which just registers as a more or less minor aspect of the larger story of Dreams' return to power after a century of imprisonment. Or, rather, Gaiman's saying in a recent interview, I'm extremely fond still of The Sound of Her Wings, the first meeting of Death.
The sound of her wings is a story about an immortal being who, stranded in the wake of his quest to recover his lost symbols of office, follows his sister as she fulfills her duty of ushering the recently deceased into the sunless lands of the afterlife. Toussaint Egan is a story about an immortal being who gains perspective through an up-close examination of humanity and a renewed appreciation of the value and significance of both life and death.
Men of Good Fortune (Issue #13)
Men of Good Fortune has one of my favorite characters for what's basically a simple short story: Robert Hob Gadling, a loud, brash tavern patron, is blaming his latest idea to all who will listen. Death, he says, is a mugs game, something that people only do when everyone else does it, and they're all suckers for it. But Hob Gadling, he's not going to die.
Death and her brother Dream are also in the tavern, and they decide it would be amusing to see Hob live up to his promises. So Dream sits down and calls Hob on his bluster, saying if Hob intends to not die, hell will have to tell Dream about it in 100 years. So that's what they do for centuries.
Men of Good Fortune does something The Sandmans stand-alone short stories were exceptionally good at: taking the Endless's cosmic everlasting scale and using it to make smaller stories resonate that much more. Even if he walks into a pub and exits with a friend, his tale is only as powerful and meaningful as his own.
Seasons of Mists (Vol.4)
Gwendoline Christie's inclusion in The Sandman is a pretty sure sign that the creative team wants to do more with the character. It's a particularly powerful revenge tactic, designed straight at Dreams' unabashed sense of duty: He can't walk away from the responsibility of owning hell, but it's a valuable asset, and everyone from defunct godly pantheons to the forces of Chaos wants it.
Tasha Robinson's performance in the Season of Mists collection reveals a lot more about who he is and how he handles his responsibilities and his realm. But the real pleasure of the arc is learning so much more about the Sandman cosmos, the key players, how they work, and what intrigue between heaven and hell and the courts of Faerie looks like.
Brief Lives (Vol.7)
The 10 volumes that make up the whole Sandman comic are ten times lesser, each of them being somewhat different. But none of them combines the best of all aspects of the comic as vol. 7, Brief Lives. Old gods in modern settings. Amusing and disturbing interactions between mortals and immortals. A talking severed head and a sarcastic dog.
Best of all, its a road trip tale about two disgruntled siblings looking for a third, and the siblings are simultaneously nigh-omnipotent beings beyond the ken of man and dont know how to drive a vehicle. Susana Polo
An Epilogue, Sunday Mourning (Issue #73)
Hob Gadling, an Englishman from the 1300s who promised he would never die, has a special place in my heart for the last issue in which he appears, where this guy who was born in actual medieval times complains about everything he sees, and no one walking around with untreated face tumors.
The Sandman: Overture (Limited Series)
The Sandman: Overture, a six-issue limited series, is the best read as an epilogue to the 10-volume series. We follow him to a distant galaxy to investigate the killing of one of his abilities by a renegade star whose madness has mutated into a dream vortex that threatens all of existence.
The Sandman: Overture is a stunning elliptical narrative set in a vast cosmos teeming with primordial surprises and strange allies, rendered by J.H. Williams III's stunning visual narration, which depicts the whole series' artistic ambitions in stunning detail.