Zilla and the Comics Junkies

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes

Not sure why it took me so long to check out Gaiman's Sandman, but i'll tell you what - i'm glad i finally did. I hear this title doesn't even start to get good until the second trade, and that motivates the hell out of me considering how much i enjoyed the first.

Sandman Vol. 1 starts out as a rag-tag cult, in an attempt to capture "Death" (using an array of dark magics), instead captures Death's brother, Dream (stay with me here).

Dream, the God-like prince of the dreamworld, responsible for all of humanities dreams and nightmares, is raped of his three most-prized possessions (the mystical tools of his trade) and held captive for 75 years because he's unwilling (or unable) to grant his captors the power they had hoped to blackmail from Death (it takes them a while to reaize they've captured the wrong entity too). With the "Sandman" out of commission, the worlds sleep suffers greatly as dreams and nightmares sprial out of control and a mysterious "sleeping sickness" rages.

Dream's original captor ages and eventually dies, and the keys are passed to the his son (who's not nearly as dedicated to the original "cause"). Security invariably begins to lapse and the Sandman makes a cunning escape, only to find that the "tools" stolen from him are no longer in the possession of his kidnappers.

...And thus the quest begins (and lasts for the bottom 3 quarters of the trade) for his pouch of sand, magical helm, and awesomely powered ruby that allows the bearer to turn dreams (or nightmares) into reality. Each of these items is in separate hands and we end up with 3 "mini quests" as Dream attempts to recover each, venturing back to his home in the Dreamworld, down to Hell, and Arkham Asylum along the way. Nice.

I'll be the first to tell you i'm not usually in to this kind of book (text or graphic), but man i had a GREAT time with this. Gaimen does an excellent job with the writing (especially the dialogue), and even though Sandman get's REALLY weird at times, it's easy to stomach since it's expected (when dreams and/or nightmares are even a small part of your subject matter, "weird" is just par for the course no?).

Gaiman manages to assign a human persona (and an actual face) to both "Dream" (Sandman) and his sister "Death" and there's something really interesting about their interactions with each other (even though we don't meet Death until the last issue in this collection). Additionally, there's some great secondary characters in here, including an unforgettable raging lunatic escapee from Arkham (who actually plays a major part in the story).

The art is kind of old-school (no surprise there), but well suited for the book. I'll be picking up V2 ASAP. Neil Gaiman's Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes gets a phat B+ from me.


21 March, 2006 20:42, Blogger zilla said...

guys - forgive me if this Sandman review rambles... i literally sat down with limited time to write this evening and just brain dumped this review... but you'll get the point me thinks ;)

22 March, 2006 09:05, Blogger Ryan X said...

Z - I have had my eyes on Sandman for awhile, actually flipped through it at B&N the other day. I am fully intrigued after your review, thanks. Props on the Basil Cronus quote today, so cool. What issue is Godland on now? I forgot to pick up #7 and of course it is gone now. If you want to sell your floppy of it, I'll send you whatever you want for it.

22 March, 2006 12:43, Blogger Pat said...

Zilla - nice review. Starting with vol 2, you'll get an idea of an overall mythology that guides the series. The closer together you can read the volumes (I think there are 10), the easier it will be to follow (esp in some of the later volumes). If you really get into it, you could also check out a book called The Sandman Companion by Hy Bender - he basically annotates and ties together each of the big movements in the series. Pretty cool. Hope you enjoy Sandman - it is one of the few series that was emotionally affecting around it's conclusion (for me).

Oh - and DC is giving Sandman the Absolute treatment (ie, really nice recoloured, oversize pages, etc) - I'm probably going to replace my trades when it comes out (Absolute Watchmen is fantastic)

22 March, 2006 16:09, Anonymous sschroeder said...

I started reading Sandman during Season of Mists, having not immediately realized the significance of a freebie # 8 I was given as part of a larger comics order, and I bought every issue that came out after that. I still have them, plus trades covering the issues I liked and issues I don't own.

Following up your recent request for more trade suggestions, you may want to check out Sandman Mystery Theatre at some point too. I may not have any of those issues anymore, but Matt Wagner and Guy Davis worked on it.

And while you are dipping into early Vertigo try Enigma by Peter Milligan. That might get a little weird for you though.

22 March, 2006 16:17, Blogger zilla said...

Pat - thanks a ton for these comments... the Absolute treatment huh? is a first volume out yet? i thought Absolute Batman Hush was gorgeous (and i have an oversized Walking Dead HC that's Absolute-ish).

22 March, 2006 16:18, Blogger zilla said...

thanks for the suggestions shroeder... i'm willing to try most anything ;)

22 March, 2006 16:20, Blogger zilla said...

PS pat is this the companion:


22 March, 2006 16:42, Blogger zilla said...

one more thing i found while i was closing down work today (and searching for some absolute sandman news for fun):


that's about the only "recent" nugget i can find about it... but wow 600 pagers.

22 March, 2006 21:47, Blogger Pat said...

Yeah - you should read Neil Gaiman's blog - I follow it via RSS - it's at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/

He posts info there about all sorts of things, and he does talk about the comics end of things. Currently, he talks mostly about The Eternals (his new series with Marvel) and Absolute Sandman (as the comments you found on MillarWorld attest to).

Keep us informed on what you think of Sandman... I'm thinking of going back and re-reading it myself now - it's been awhile since I read it last.

22 March, 2006 22:20, Blogger zilla said...

thanks pat... one thing i can confirm (also mentioned on gaiman's blog) is that the coloring for the first trade is kind of beat. there are a lot of dream's word balloons that you can barely read... glad to hear they are re-coloring it for absolute...

does anyone have even a rough time frame of when absolute may be hitting the stands?


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In no particular order:

Criminal, The Goon, Daredevil, Exterminators, Punisher, Hellboy/B.P.R.D (All), Powers, Godland, Usagi Yojimbo, The Walking Dead, Invincible, Conan, Ex Machina, DMZ, Desolation Jones, Fell, 100 Bullets, All-Star Superman, Ultimates 2, Loveless, and Fear Agent.

I'm recently back reading after a 15 year comics hiatus.

Zilla is not my real name.

I'm from Tejas living in VA. I'm married w/ 2 dogs. I'm an IT security consultant cranking the wheel for a big consulting firm in "real" life.

I watch the History Channel, Nat'l Geo, TLC, Mil Channel, ESPN and NFL Network, CourtTV (forensic files, etc.) and the Cartoon Network (love Genndy T's Samurai Jack and Clone Wars Adventures). My taste in movies: Gladiator, Last Samurai, Braveheart, Godfather, Tarantino (whatever), Kung-Fu (whatever), Westerns, Top Gun, Big Lebowski.

I love the outdoors and bs'ing around w/ my dogs.

In addition to being a comics junkie, i'm also a sports junkie especially when it comes to the Texas Longhorns and the Dallas Cowboys.

Blog contents copyright © 2005 Rod Wetsel