3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2014
Gaiman's epic Sandman series of comics has already been drawn together in volumes one - five of this oversized and slipcased series of the seminal comics run, so what's left for fifth? Well, while the primary narrative may have been told, the worlds of Dream and his siblings are endless. These stories were all published after the final issue of the comic, usually as celebratory anniversary events, and all were new to me. To begin with there's a superb autobiographical short story about Sandman and living with the story for so long, illustrated by Dave McKean. It's a nice way to do a retrospective and introduction, and a dazzling use of McKean's signature art.
From there it's into the first version of 'The Dream Hunters', a gloriously toned long prose story presented as a Japanese fable about a monk and a fox falling in love. Dream of the Endless plays a supporting role in this tale of unlikely passions, and there are numerous full page illustrations from Yoshitaka Amano which are in wild contrast with the artwork previously associated with the series, and bring a wonderful visual exoticism to the tale. 'Endless Nights' is collected next, originally a short series devoting a single comic issue to each member of Dream's family. Each is illustrated by a different artist, but all are rich and atmospheric. The stories all stand alone, and for the most part look at the concepts each of the Endless embody. It allows for some mature, disturbing, and moving offerings - among the most sophisticated storytelling I've seen since... well, since the original Sandman series. It's heady stuff, often uncomfortable and moving.
After this comes 'Sandman: Theatre of Dreams', in which Morpheus features only briefly. Instead, this is a tale about the 'Golden Age' DC hero who took the Sandman's name and image, and is set in London between two world wars. There are spies, double dealing, strange societies (who might just hold the real King of Dreams in a mystic trap in a cellar), and more. It's moodily done noir, and beautifully detailed, linking neatly to our first encounter with Morpheus himself way back in Sandman 1.
Finally, there's a second version of 'The Dream Hunters', in full comic layout this time. As neat as this is, it's actually only a shadow of the more involving prose version that opens this book. Without that version, this would probably have played better with me, but I found it less layered and rich a story in this iteration (what I perceive to be an change to a certain revenge at the end also annoyed me).
To sum up... phew! The book is beautiful, and very expensive. As such, it's for collector's and Gaiman obsessives only (you can get all of the separate parts of this book as standalone paperbacks elsewhere). The stories stand outside of the main Sandman narrative, but colour in the universe of that epic story beautifully. Each is connected enough to the main saga to feel like more than a mere addendum. though bound together they do feel like a scrapbook miscellany from the worlds of the Endless. I loved it. An extended stay in a place I miss very much, and in this format a visual treat to get lost in.
on 22 April 2015
Well worthy of your money and time,but don't be misled,it doesn't end here,there is still the prequel,Prelude,out in book form November 2015.Preorder now!