Review – The Sandman Volume One: Preludes and Nocturnes
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  • Posted:
  • September 4, 2015

sandman1 p and n
sanman volume 1 p and n

The Sandman was a project that Neil Gaiman pitched to DC to revamp a long forgotten character; Morpheus, the master of dreams. The series ran for seven years and garnered much acclaim. It remains one of the most lauded and respected comics series of its age. Gaiman wrote this project working with numerous artists to translate his written words into images. The artists working on this particular volume are Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III.

The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes is the first volume of the series. The stories within are:

Sleep of the Just
(Kieth and Dringenberg) – In which a group of zealots summon a god to their midst and get the wrong one, causing a pandemic of the sleeping sickness across the world. By the end of this volume Dream (Morpheus) is released from his prison.

Imperfect Hosts (Kieth and Dringenberg) – Brothers Cain and Abel welcome Dream to our world and bring him back to peak condition. The Hecateae show up, three women with magic abilities, and warn Dream of impending difficulties.

Dream a Little Dream of Me (Kieth and Dringenberg) – John Constantine encounters Dream and travel into a home made of organic living material. Within they discover Rachel, a woman addicted to the sleeping sand that belongs to Dream.

A Hope in Hell (Kieth and Dringenberg) – Dream, now in possession of his sand, travels into hell to meet with Lucifer Morningstar. He encounters Etrigan along the way. Lucifer invites Dream to find his lost helmet and, discovering that Chronozon, a lesser demon, has his mask of office, he engages in a battle of wits with him.

Passengers (Kieth and Jones) – A naked madman escapes from Arkham Asylum and takes a woman driver hostage with a gun. He tells her he was once a doctor and speaks of the Justice League of America. He wants to find an item that was once his – a dream powered ruby, the dreamstone.

24 hours (Dringenberg and Jones) – A server in a diner watches as a man drinks coffee after coffee. He is the madman from the previous book, now in possession of his ruby. Over a period of 24 hours, the jewel’s power influences everyone within the diner before Dream interrupts.

Sound and Fury (Dringenberg and Jones) – Dream stops the madman from further using the dreamstone. He employs his helmet and after a series of crazy imagery he takes him back to Arkham.

The Sound of Her Wings (Dringenberg and Jones) – Dream, sitting in a courtyard, is visited by his older sister, Death, one of the Endless. They have amusing sibling banter before she is forced to perform her job.

The Sandman is always one of those series I have meant to read. I have long loved Gaiman’s work and felt like a bad fan about never getting to them. Going into this series I was warned ahead of time that the first two volumes are a little bit of a mess. That being said I prepared myself for it like I would to watch the first half of a season of a TV show. The first episodes always take some time to hit their stride. This was no different. It wasn’t until I read 24 Hours that I really felt like I knew what was going on in the book…that I became invested. The Sound of Her Wings was the first story that made me laugh, recognizing Gaiman’s bit of humor and the beginning of what I hope will be a massively dysfunctional family dynamic.

The art within was also choppy to me at the onset. Some of it feels basic or underdone when it could be so much cleaner. Part of this rushed aspect lends it a chaotic frenetic quality that I am sure was not unwanted. There are some very beautiful panels within. I particularly liked how Dream developed as he went along, coming more into characterization both visually and personally as the book delves deeper. His journey is both provoking and concerning as he encounters problem after problem which he must resolve.

The horror aspect of this series is nicely done. Thus far, I have not encountered anything too over the top, disturbing, or grotesque that I couldn’t read it before bed and fall asleep unscathed. I am certain that this might change as I go on. I have been told that the series has its moments.

For now, though, the series is unfolding in an intriguing and visually stimulating way for me, and I look forward to continuing it.

4 out of 5 stars.

– BP

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