Review – The Sandman Volume Five: A Game of You
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  • Posted:
  • September 27, 2015


a game of you

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Neil Gaiman returns with the fifth volume of The Sandman: A Game of You. The contributing artists are Shawn McManus, Colleen Doran, Bryan Talbot, George Pratt, Stan Woch, and Dick Giordano.

The stories within are:

Slaughter on Fifth Avenue (McManus) – Barbie is awoken for a shopping trip by Wanda, a woman who lives in her apartment. Wanda requests cream from the neighbors Thessaly, Hazel, and Foxglove. She bumps into George, another neighbor, before returning to Barbie’s apartment. They meet a woman on the bus who is afraid of dogs. A giant mammalian creature is roaming the streets looking for the “Princess” and Barbie recalls him from her dream.

Lullabies of Broadway (McManus) – Barbie hides the porpentine, a necklace from her dream. Hazel confesses to her that she is pregnant, despite being in a good relationship with her girlfriend, Foxglove. Everyone in the apartment suffers from terrible dreams that night and Thessaly approaches George after finding a bird.

Bad Moon Rising (Doran, Pratt, and Giordano) – Thessaly knocks on Hazel and Foxglove’s door early in the morning. They get Wanda, who has been revealed to be a Male-to-Female Pre-Op Transgender woman, and try to awaken Barbie, who is asleep while clutching the porpentine. Thessaly detaches Georges face and tongue to acquire some answers magically.

Beginning to See the Light (McManus) – Barbie is traveling in her dream world with Luz, Wilkinson, and Prinado in search of the Cuckoo. Nuala approaches Dream and tells him what is happening. At the end of the book, Princess Barbie is betrayed by one of her companions and taken to the realm of the Cuckoo.

Over the Sea to the Sky (McManus, Talbot, and Woch) – Barbie enters her childhood home and encounters herself but younger. Meanwhile, Thessaly, Hazel, and Foxglove pursue her into the realm of the Cuckoo. In Barbie’s apartment, Wanda and a woman named Maisie Hill (the elderly woman who was afraid of dogs) await their return. Dream is invoked thanks to a magical compact. He meets with Thessaly and company and tells them that they have trespassed. In the real world, Barbie’s building has been destroyed by Hurricane Lisa.

I Woke Up and One of Us Was Crying (McManus) – Barbie has been granted a boon by Dream. She wishes that everyone return to the real world unharmed. Her younger self turns into a bird and flies off. Later, Barbie attends a funeral of one of her fallen comrades.

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It amazes me how Gaiman wrote such a touching and brilliantly handled story line about Wanda in the very early 1990’s. Why it’s surprising is because it was published by DC Comics. In recent years, DC does not have the best track record with social equality, choosing to minimize several diverse story lines instead of celebrating them. But the story of Wanda’s struggle and ultimate sacrifice really hit home with me. I think that this is the first plot in the entire Sandman series that really upset me because it might never have been written if this series was going today, and DC might have chosen to silence it. How is it that this company is going backwards with its storytelling instead of forwards? To say that it’s a different DC is not just a shame. It’s an outright tragedy, one that makes me incredibly sad. We should not have to silence story lines that celebrate our own inherent sense of empathy.

Besides that, here are some particularly interesting visual tidbits from this volume:

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Thessaly removing George’s tongue from his face.

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Barbie and company seeking the Cuckoo.

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And there was also this immensely beautiful, insightful  moment on Barbie’s part that I just loved.

Bravo, Neil Gaiman, Bravo.

Such a simple eloquence is one of the reasons that I adore Gaiman’s writing. He really knows how to put people into perspective, in both their worst and their best moments. This one resonant phrase is one of those moments that I will carry with me beyond my read of this series, and I cannot thank him enough for this.

5 out of 5 stars.

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