Going like a Dream
What if this is all just a Dream? Neil Gaiman’s comic book universe just got franchised.
released OUT NOW! Publisher Vertigo Writers Various Artists Various
one-shot DC’s adult comics imprint Vertigo has had its fair share of problems in the last decade, but their latest attempt at getting back on track is their most attention-grabbing manoeuvre yet. Thirty years after the first issue of The Sandman was published, Vertigo are celebrating the anniversary (and their own 25th birthday) by launching four new ongoing series set in the limitless worlds of Neil Gaiman’s creation.
Three of the upcoming comics are relaunches of previous Gaiman-related Vertigo titles: The Dreaming, which follows the massive supporting cast of The Sandman: Lucifer, once again tracking the dark misadventures of the ex-ruler of Hell; and Books Of Magic, charting the life of bespectacled teenage magician Timothy Hunter. Alongside these is the new voodoo-centric comic House Of Whispers. All four titles kick off their stories in the 40-page special Sandman Universe, which acts as a combined curtain-raiser and teaser for each comic, featuring contributions from each of the new creative teams.
The story begins with the discovery that the mythical entity Dream has gone missing. This pitches both the waking world and the fantastic realms of the Dreaming into chaos, as the raven Matthew is sent to find his master, and we’re given glimpses of how other characters are being affected by the vanishing of the Lord of Dreams, leading to a final reveal that’s going to have major consequences.
For fans of the original series, this is as warm and familiar as donning a comfortable pair of slippers, and the four writers (Si Spurrier, Nalo Hopkinson, Kat Howard and Dan Watters) have successfully captured the style of The Sandman while also maintaining a distinctive voice of their own. They’re helped in this by the impressive visuals; each of the new artists showcase plenty of creative layouts and eye-catching imagery, with Bilquis Evely and Dominike “Domo” Stanton providing the highlights.
As a jumping-on point for Sandman newbies, however, this could have done with being a little more accessible. There’s a bounty of imagination, mood and quirkiness on display here, but some of the core elements of Gaiman’s mythology aren’t properly introduced, and the loose anthology nature of the special leaves some of the series teasers feeling less impactful than others. The combined result is an opening act that isn’t as confident as the one Gaiman managed 30 years ago. But it’s still an eye-catching and intriguing set-up that hints at promising directions for this new quartet of titles. Saxon Bullock
Neil Gaiman contributed the story for the special, and also helped to choose the different creative teams.
As warm and familiar as donning comfortable slippers
He meant it when he said he had stars in his eyes.