I was aware before I opened this comic and read the introduction that The Sandman was among some of the principle writing which established Neil Gaiman's profile.
On the other hand I would not describe myself as that knowledgeable about comics and sometimes avoid more popular or cult following material from the comics scene.
As I had been advised (and almost allowed to put me off) the comic does feature the Sandman of fable, who brings sleep and dreams, in appearence he resembles a slightly stereotypical goth but also, I thought, some of the pictures which I've seen of Gaiman himself.
The story begins with some occultists during one of the world wars attempting to trap death himself in a ritual, they manage to accidentially trap Morpheus AKA The Sandman. There is some good story telling about the immediate consequences, the sleeping sickness which is the subject matter of non-fiction accounts such as Awakenings
among other things is ascribed to this action. The passage of years experienced the same but none the less not meaning the same to mortals as immortals and a certain kind of entropy result in Morpheus' escape. The story is then taken up with his struggle to recover from his captivity, to retreive his lost tools of his trade and re-establish himself and the role he plays.
There is a real element of Gaiman standing on the shoulders of giants when it comes to his writing, similar to Alan Moore. There are a lot of great references to other and older DC universe subjects or material.
Arkham Asylum features, as does the Justice League, John Constantine from the Hellblazer comics and film of the same name and my personal favourites (especially since the characters are artistically rendered as the originals were or at least very closely to them) Showcase Presents: The House of Mystery Vol 01
, Showcase Presents: House of Secrets (Showcase Presents)
and Showcase Presents: Witching Hour v. 1
. In some ways the cartoonish baffoonery of these tales are shown in a new, slightly more sinister light, for instance Abel's torments of Cain look a lot more like vicious domestic violence, it is suggested that the three witches are in fact the three fates.
I have always thought that Gaiman and Moore were strong writers because they could bridge well the themes of earlier, possibly more innocent, fantastical story telling with critical appraisals of the same.
This is a fine example of the same and, as with other examples of Gaiman's writing, he is able to reawaken the simultaneously thrilling and frightening in the stories which we were all told as children but forgot about.
My only complaint about this comic volume perhaps is that the art work is not really consistent throughout, it is probably a matter of personal taste but there is some of it which I like and others which I dont. The storytelling is consistent throughout, no jarring change of style or pace or content.
I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Gaiman or a fan of horror or spook comics. It is great, although I would consider it material for more mature readers, not because it is especially adult in its content but I feel they may appreciate it better than younger readers.