Enthralling, tragic, and quietly hopeful, The Sandman is a comic book classic. Writer Neil Gaiman chronicles the captivity and return to power of Dream, the controller of the dream world. Roderick Burgess, the head of the mystical society, accidentally captures Dream instead of Dream’s sister Death. During Dream’s imprisonment, people begin to contract a disease that makes them sleep for the majority of their lifetimes. Once he escapes, Dream has to find the three items that will allow him to regain his power: a pouch of sand, a helmet, and a ruby. Dream is a complex, enticing anti-hero; while he begins the story plagued by revenge, as he journeys through both reality and the dream world to obtain these three items, we begin to clearly recognize his heroic characteristics. Gaiman interweaves the woes of heartbreak and death into Dream’s fantastical journey. In his first journey, Dream attempts to retrieve his pouch of sand from John Constantine, who leads Dream to his ex-love Rachel who has become addicted to dreams, lying in bed all day and dying of bedsores and hunger. Instead of just taking the pouch and allowing Rachel to die painfully, Dream grants Rachel a peaceful dying dream in which she walks into the sunset with Constantine. Next, he has to retrieve his helmet in Hell and challenge the demon Chronozon in a strategic game of power, a game which he wins by asserting the power of hope. Finally, Dream has to face Doctor Dee, an escapee of Arkham prison who wants to drive the world insane with Dream’s ruby.
Without giving away the sadistic details, I’ll simply say the story becomes truly horrifying, as Dee exploits the ruby’s power to manipulate a small group of people in a coffee shop into acting on the darkest aspects of their character. When Dream defeats Dee in a final battle, he induces sleep onto the entirety of the world population. While the story began with sleep as a means of harm, Gaiman now presents sleep as a peacemaker. Despite the tragic nature of the story as a whole, Gaiman ends The Sandman with a quiet hopefulness. Dream accompanies his sister Death as she journeys from fatality to fatality, and Dream comes to see death as a peaceful release rather than something mortals should fear. In its entirety, The Sandman is refreshingly original and smart, managing to express difficult themes of tragedy while never ceasing to entertain.
Release Date: January 1989
Genre: Fantasy Fiction
Wiki Link: @The Sandman: Preludes Nocturnes
Eoin Goyette | Writing Contributor
B.A | Film & New Media Studies | UC Santa Barbara
Eoin has loved telling stories for his entire life, with his interests ranging from Swedish films to fantasy football reports. He is in his 2nd year studying Film & Media at UC Santa Barbara, where he’s a part of the honors program, Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, and many student film productions, including ones which he writes and directs himself. When he isn’t writing or watching movies, you can often catch him lost in train of thought, berating the TV during 49ers games, or shamelessly laughing at his own sarcasm. | Instagram @eoin_goyette| View My Blogs
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