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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that evolves before your very eyes.
"Preludes & Nocturnes" is the collection of the first 8 monthly publications of "The Sandman", one of the most ground breaking works in modern mythological writings. As such we should remember that from acorns might oaks do grow. "Preludes..." starts out with a vaguely interesting story line a badly drawn Dream (Our ~Hero~) and too...
Published on 12 Dec. 1999

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shaky start
I read this one some 10 years or so ago when I was slowly returning to comics and, having re-read it now, I still maintain that Preludes and Nocturnes is a poor place to start with this series - though it’s a decent book.

My first time around, I read Sandman totally out of sequence starting with Vol 3, then Vol 5, then a couple more volumes (I was just...
Published 5 months ago by Sam Quixote


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that evolves before your very eyes., 12 Dec. 1999
By A Customer
"Preludes & Nocturnes" is the collection of the first 8 monthly publications of "The Sandman", one of the most ground breaking works in modern mythological writings. As such we should remember that from acorns might oaks do grow. "Preludes..." starts out with a vaguely interesting story line a badly drawn Dream (Our ~Hero~) and too many old DC superheroes. But by the originality of the writing and settings and themes what would be bland becomes the begining of the most finely woven tapestry of myth, reality and social commentry ever to be created. By itself "Preludes..." would never be published and probably shouldn't be read, but when put within the context of the entire Sandman series it is the acorn, and a little perseverance will reward many times over with the greatest oak.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a shaky start to an amazing series, 23 Sept. 2012
I'm a big fan of Neil Gaiman's novels and television work, so I decided to branch out and give his Sandman series a go. I'm not a comic book/graphic novel reader at all - the last time I picked up a comic, it was an Archie one, if that tells you anything? - so I started reading Preludes and Nocturnes without any real idea of what to expect. Hopefully if you're in the same boat as me - comic book ignoramus with an interest in reading more of Gaiman's work - this review may be helpful to you.

First off, Sandman is just as fantastic as everyone has told you it is. It's macabre and madcap and thoughtful and sometimes just flat-out, unashamedly poetic. I hadn't realised comics could be so thoroughly lyrical, but there are times I've sat there reading and just been blown away by how beautiful it all is. Sandman reminded me a lot of American Gods and Anansi Boys, at times, but it also stands on its own as an original and really excellent piece of work. If you can get hold of the whole series and bunker down for a long reading session, I highly recommend that you do. You won't regret it.

That said, I've got to be honest: I didn't like Preludes and Nocturnes.

Preludes and Nocturnes plants the seeds of the bigger stories that follow. It also introduces us to our main protagonist Dream of the Endless, reveals the tragic and eerie world of the series, and also gives us our first meeting with Death (who is awesome, so awesome). But as a whole its the weakest volume of the series. The writing is really hit and miss - Gaiman admits in the volume that he thinks is a lot of it is not his best work, as he was still getting the hang of writing a serial comic, and he's dead right. There are also a number of 'guest stars' in the volume, who I think are well-known comic book characters, and I felt they detracted from the original feel of the story. The violence in Preludes is also pretty off the scale. This may not bother a lot of readers - if so, more power to you! - but there were particular moments when I felt sure I was going to toss my cookies.

But it's worth bracing yourself and working your way through Preludes, because what follows is absolutely worth the effort. Once you begin reading Doll's House, you'll be hooked. Guaranteed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dream Start, 5 Feb. 2007
By 
Mr. Jamie Martin (uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The criticism that this is not the best of the sandman series is very much undeserved. Its not, however the comics it contains rate among the most important of the 20th Centuary, and helped to create what would become Vertigo comics, establishing itself in a trend started by Alan Moore on Swamp Thing and Jamie Delanos Hellblazer. Its dated a bit, but then so has Citizen Kane - And that is a worth comparison, because although both creators would do better in their career, their impact at those times would never be better'd.

Those were heady days, when this kind of Comic book was unheard of. This was a risk. Like the Watchmen before it, Preludes is special in that it dared to be different, and it succeded. Its not Gaimans best work on Sandman but it is his first work, and when it appeared it was unprecedented and unheard of. Moore, Miller and Morrison brought Graphic Novels into mainstream Bookshops, but Gaiman brought Book Buyers into the Comic Shops.

Its not something you can judge by comparison to later and now, but for what it was. If this had failed there would have been no later, people put their careers on the line for this.

Take it from someone who was there. This is the birth of the Modern Era of Comic Books. Sandman, Swamp Thing and Hellblazer are British Invasion of US comics.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good start to a Brilliant series., 27 Dec. 2001
Preludes and Noctures is more than just a story, it is a setting, more than anything it gives you background and a notion of who Morpheus (Sandman) is. Maybe because of that it lacks in the pure storytelling other parts of the sandman saga have. This book has useful information and if you are just starting in the world of Sandman it is where you should start, but remember, after this one comes better stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shaky start, 16 Dec. 2014
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I read this one some 10 years or so ago when I was slowly returning to comics and, having re-read it now, I still maintain that Preludes and Nocturnes is a poor place to start with this series - though it’s a decent book.

My first time around, I read Sandman totally out of sequence starting with Vol 3, then Vol 5, then a couple more volumes (I was just grabbing whatever was on the shelves that week!) and I read Vol 1 towards the end thinking what an unimpressive first volume it was.

I’d recommend someone looking to understand the brilliance of this series to start with the standalone books, Vol 3 and Vol 6 rather than with Vol 1 - those are much more representative of why people love Sandman so much.

Alright - enough prelude! Onto the… nocturnes… ?

Set in the early 20th century, an Aleister Crowley-esque type tries to summon Death and gain immortality - except he botches the spell and gets Dream instead. Dream is imprisoned for 70 years until he escapes and begins to resume his role in the universe. But first he must gather his instruments: his helm, his dreamstone, and his bag of sand.

My biggest complaint of this book is the same criticism I have for a lot of Neil Gaiman’s work: the pacing is much too slow. But this is especially pronounced in a comic! Gaiman’s style was - and is - that of a long-winded storyteller who can spin a good yarn but will not be rushed and this can lead to a much less exciting read.

Not only that but he comes from the Alan Moore school of writing comics where each page is severely bogged down with blocks of text. Though, unlike Moore, its more clumsy in this one and feels like Gaiman is still learning to write comics by trying to make his novelistic approach fit a different genre and not quite succeeding.

That and Gaiman clearly hasn’t found his voice yet. The first volume is very horror-centric in sharp contrast to the rest of the series which leaves this hackneyed approach behind to successfully blend fantasy, the cosmic, and Gaiman’s own style into something unique. It’s a bit of a muddle to wade through which is why it’s a bit unfortunate that this is the first volume where a lot of people will start and which is bound to put some readers off from sampling the rest of this excellent series.

You can also see Gaiman relying a bit too much on the DC Universe in this first volume whereas later - though some DCU characters and locations crop up now and then - Sandman’s original cast becomes the central focus. Arkham Asylum puts in a cameo where we meet Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow, and, as Dream sets about collecting his necessaries, he encounters John Constantine, Martian Manhunter, and Etrigan.

We also meet a lot of new characters who will go on to become quite beloved by the fans: Cain and Abel, Lucien, the Hecateae, Lucifer Morningstar (who will get his own spin-off title), and, arguably the most popular character Gaiman’s ever created, Death, Dream’s sister (who also gets a couple of standalone books).

Besides introducing characters, Gaiman’s first go at Sandman indicates the kind of series it will become. While Gaiman references earlier incarnations of the character like the 1930s Wesley Dodds Sandman (Dream’s helm looks a lot like Dodds’ gas mask), and a dream sequence drawn in a Jack Kirby style (a nod to the 1970s Kirby Sandman), Gaiman’s Sandman is decidedly more modern and set in a richly imaginative world.

Beginning to distance itself from the DCU, Gaiman’s Sandman goes to Hell, he battles an evil magician across space and time, and, more importantly, he begins to explore the potential of dreams. This is the reason behind the series’ success: dreams. Because ANYTHING can happen in a dream meaning anything can happen in this series and you can see Gaiman beginning to realise that potential in this book. In one particular dream sequence the art switches to pure Kirby so we suddenly get a three-page Fourth World-esque strip out of nowhere!

I know some people don’t like Sam Kieth’s art in this book and, to be honest, when I first read this I didn’t much care for it either. But I’ve since read Kieth’s The Maxx and come to a new appreciation of his style. His art in this book is more restrained than in The Maxx but he brings the fantastic when he needs to and the kind of bizarre comics he creates is a good fit for the type of comic Sandman is aiming for. Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III’s art is also very good though, going back to the horror theme, there’s far too much black on the pages.

There’s a lot to like about this first volume: a lot of ideas and imagination swirling together, some great episodes like Dream going to Hell and meeting Lucifer, or John Dee’s 24 hour nightmare issue in the diner, and Dream and Death’s first scene together. But there’s a lot of chaff here too and it’s less like reading a comic and feels too often like reading an illustrated book.

Sandman Vol 1 might not be a great comic but it leads into a great series and, if you weren’t that impressed after reading this and was wondering what all the fuss is about, keep going because it gets a lot better very quickly. Better yet, skip Vol 1 entirely and come back to it later!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant start to a wonderful classic series., 9 Oct. 2000
By A Customer
I bought this book on a friends recommendation, and I wasn't disappointed. I had been led to think I was getting something special, and I was. I have now had to read all the series (Preludes & Nocturnes, The Doll's House, Dream Country, Season of Mists, A Game of You, Fables & Reflections, Brief Lives, Worlds End, The Kindly Ones and The Wake) because I was addicted! If anyone tells you that graphic novels are a sub-genre for boys, ignore them - these are books for anyone and everyone who loves a good story.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In the beginning, 22 Dec. 2004
By 
Michele L. Worley (Kingdom of the Mouse, United States) - See all my reviews
These first 8 Sandman stories establish the character, how he came to be incarcerated through most of the twentieth century - and some of the damage resulting in the mortal realm. Don't be put off by the early artwork; Sandman's artists took time to catch up with Gaiman's writing, and began to mesh properly towards the end of this volume.
This incarnation of the Sandman is *the* Sandman: Dream of the Endless, the king of the realm of dream and nightmare.
Seeking to capture Death, an order of magicians in Wych Cross, England accidentally snare Death's younger brother, Dream, in "Sleep of the Just". They seal him within an airless glass cage, then attempt to parley: his freedom in exchange for immortality, power, and his promise not to retaliate. But Dream is of the Endless; while time passes no more quickly for him than for mortals, he has *all* of it at his disposal - and a temper like an angry god rising from the bottom of the sea. The artwork has weaknesses, particularly in depicting Dream himself, but Gaiman's writing is magnificent, opening deeper mysteries in passing. For the elements of his spell, how did the magus steal a song from dirt, or a feather from an angel's wing? How did Dream come to be in such a weakened condition that a petty spell could snare him?
Gaiman's excellence as a writer shines through, as he creates depth with layer after layer of consequences to actions, planting the seeds of future stories as he does so.
The damage done to the mortal realm is unfolded gradually, by showing several people who had unusual qualities as dreamers, and what happened to them in the years after Dream's capture in June 1916: a real-life "sleeping sickness" epidemic; a thirteen-year-old who lied about his age to enlist, and now in Verdun cannot sleep; Unity Kinkaid, who falls into near-endless sleep. Gaiman even fits the first Sandman (Wesley Dodds the crimefighter) into the mosaic, as the universe, knowing that *someone* is missing, attempts to replace him. We also see the changes in the magicians' order over the decades, as the magus' son and heir carries on.
Naturally, damage was also done to Dream's own realm, which we see both in this volume and the next. The next few PRELUDES AND NOCTURNES deal with Dream's return to the Dreaming: taking stock of which dreams have escaped into the mortal realm (later tracked down in THE DOLL'S HOUSE), then going after the tools stolen from him by the magicians, lost decades before when the magus' mistress Ethel Dee ran away with 200000 pounds, several powerful artifacts, and the second-in-command.
Dream inventories his realm in "Imperfect Hosts"; many of the dreams correspond to other Marvel comics, such as the brothers Cain and Abel, who are also an interpretation of the figures of legend. (In the mortal realm, Ethel Dee seeks out her son in none other than the Arkham Asylum.) The artwork on Dream is still finding its way. The one-who-is-three - maiden/mother/crone - enters the storyline here, but her/their graphic depiction is *AWFUL* (*all* other issues of Sandman in which they appear have better treatment), although their shuffling positions between frames is established here. (That would have been Gaiman's script, though, not the artist.) They give Dream enigmatic clues to the whereabouts of the pouch of sand (last purchased by John Constantine); the helm (traded by the renegade magician to a demon decades ago); and the ruby (passed by Ethel Dee to her son, long since captured by the League of Justice).
Still debilitated from his long imprisonment, and wanting more information about the more-than-human Justice League before confronting them, Dream begins by seeking out John Constantine, in "Dream a Little Dream of Me". Even the pouch of sand, the least powerful of Dream's tools, has destroyed more than one mortal life. Constantine's viewpoint carries an undercurrent of music, all songs with dream imagery, beginning days before Dream crosses his path. We also meet Mad Hettie for the first time, a street person who knows far more than most about *real* life, and who really *is* 247. Dream's graphic depiction begins improving a little here as Gaiman experiments a little, with Constantine rather than Dream narrating.
In "A Hope in Hell", Dream confronts the Morningstar, in our first encounter with Gaiman's take on Lucifer. The distortions in mythology - Lucifer's "co-rulers" - weren't Gaiman's error, but were introduced for consistency with another comic that was to be set here. Gaiman managed to square this with Lucifer's character development later on. Here we first encounter Nada, Dream's unforgiven ex-lover, imprisoned for 10,000 years - something we understand better after "Tales in the Sand" in THE DOLL'S HOUSE. Hope is the major theme running through this issue: Dream's hopes for the meeting, Nada's hopes of freedom.
The quest for the ruby, the tool into which Dream placed the greater part of his power long ago, runs over 3 chapters, beginning in "Passengers". Dream only deals with two members of the Justice League, 'Scott Free' and the last Martian; the latter's perception of Dream underscores his standing outside humanity as an entity known to all cultures. Nevertheless, Ethel Dee's son retrieves the ruby before Dream does.
"24 Hours" is both horror story and character study; the ruby's power not only permits Dee to torment the diner's customers, but to force them to reveal their deepest secrets. Dream's battle for the ruby forms the chapter "Sound and Fury". While ordinarily no mortal could stand against Dream, the ruby allows Dee to turn Dream's own power against him.
"Sound of Her Wings" was first advertised as "A Death in the Family", as we finally encounter the one of the Endless the magi *really* wanted to trap: Dream's elder sibling, Death, as he walks beside her through a day of *her* work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shaky start, 16 Dec. 2014
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I read this one some 10 years or so ago when I was slowly returning to comics and, having re-read it now, I still maintain that Preludes and Nocturnes is a poor place to start with this series - though it’s a decent book.

My first time around, I read Sandman totally out of sequence starting with Vol 3, then Vol 5, then a couple more volumes (I was just grabbing whatever was on the shelves that week!) and I read Vol 1 towards the end thinking what an unimpressive first volume it was.

I’d recommend someone looking to understand the brilliance of this series to start with the standalone books, Vol 3 and Vol 6 rather than with Vol 1 - those are much more representative of why people love Sandman so much.

Alright - enough prelude! Onto the… nocturnes… ?

Set in the early 20th century, an Aleister Crowley-esque type tries to summon Death and gain immortality - except he botches the spell and gets Dream instead. Dream is imprisoned for 70 years until he escapes and begins to resume his role in the universe. But first he must gather his instruments: his helm, his dreamstone, and his bag of sand.

My biggest complaint of this book is the same criticism I have for a lot of Neil Gaiman’s work: the pacing is much too slow. But this is especially pronounced in a comic! Gaiman’s style was - and is - that of a long-winded storyteller who can spin a good yarn but will not be rushed and this can lead to a much less exciting read.

Not only that but he comes from the Alan Moore school of writing comics where each page is severely bogged down with blocks of text. Though, unlike Moore, its more clumsy in this one and feels like Gaiman is still learning to write comics by trying to make his novelistic approach fit a different genre and not quite succeeding.

That and Gaiman clearly hasn’t found his voice yet. The first volume is very horror-centric in sharp contrast to the rest of the series which leaves this hackneyed approach behind to successfully blend fantasy, the cosmic, and Gaiman’s own style into something unique. It’s a bit of a muddle to wade through which is why it’s a bit unfortunate that this is the first volume where a lot of people will start and which is bound to put some readers off from sampling the rest of this excellent series.

You can also see Gaiman relying a bit too much on the DC Universe in this first volume whereas later - though some DCU characters and locations crop up now and then - Sandman’s original cast becomes the central focus. Arkham Asylum puts in a cameo where we meet Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow, and, as Dream sets about collecting his necessaries, he encounters John Constantine, Martian Manhunter, and Etrigan.

We also meet a lot of new characters who will go on to become quite beloved by the fans: Cain and Abel, Lucien, the Hecateae, Lucifer Morningstar (who will get his own spin-off title), and, arguably the most popular character Gaiman’s ever created, Death, Dream’s sister (who also gets a couple of standalone books).

Besides introducing characters, Gaiman’s first go at Sandman indicates the kind of series it will become. While Gaiman references earlier incarnations of the character like the 1930s Wesley Dodds Sandman (Dream’s helm looks a lot like Dodds’ gas mask), and a dream sequence drawn in a Jack Kirby style (a nod to the 1970s Kirby Sandman), Gaiman’s Sandman is decidedly more modern and set in a richly imaginative world.

Beginning to distance itself from the DCU, Gaiman’s Sandman goes to Hell, he battles an evil magician across space and time, and, more importantly, he begins to explore the potential of dreams. This is the reason behind the series’ success: dreams. Because ANYTHING can happen in a dream meaning anything can happen in this series and you can see Gaiman beginning to realise that potential in this book. In one particular dream sequence the art switches to pure Kirby so we suddenly get a three-page Fourth World-esque strip out of nowhere!

I know some people don’t like Sam Kieth’s art in this book and, to be honest, when I first read this I didn’t much care for it either. But I’ve since read Kieth’s The Maxx and come to a new appreciation of his style. His art in this book is more restrained than in The Maxx but he brings the fantastic when he needs to and the kind of bizarre comics he creates is a good fit for the type of comic Sandman is aiming for. Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III’s art is also very good though, going back to the horror theme, there’s far too much black on the pages.

There’s a lot to like about this first volume: a lot of ideas and imagination swirling together, some great episodes like Dream going to Hell and meeting Lucifer, or John Dee’s 24 hour nightmare issue in the diner, and Dream and Death’s first scene together. But there’s a lot of chaff here too and it’s less like reading a comic and feels too often like reading an illustrated book.

Sandman Vol 1 might not be a great comic but it leads into a great series and, if you weren’t that impressed after reading this and was wondering what all the fuss is about, keep going because it gets a lot better very quickly. Better yet, skip Vol 1 entirely and come back to it later!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sandman #1, 15 Oct. 2013
The Sandman is a landmark comic series; right up there with The Dark Knight Returns, V for Vendetta, Watchmen and Sin City its appeal has transcended the traditional comic market and it is still one of the most loved and revered series to date. Although The Eternals and Marvel 1602 were great books, it is in The Sandman, a collection of stories that are timeless, resonant and universal, that Neil Gaiman shows off his mastery of the comics genre. Preludes and Nocturnes is the first of twelve trade paperbacks and collects issues 1 to 8 of The Sandman.

The first seven issues collected in Preludes and Nocturnes comprise the "More Than Rubies" story-arc that introduces Dream [or Morpheus as he is also known] and establishes the world of The Sandman. The series begins in 1916, with Dream having been captured and imprisoned by Roderick Burgess, a magician who had hoped to capture Death and so achieve immortality. With no immediate avenue of escape open to him, Dream has no choice but to bide his time as best as he can until his captor dies and he is, indirectly, freed. However, when Burgess does eventually die, his son Alexander takes over as Dream's captor until finally, in 1988, he inadvertently weakens the containment spell and Dream is able to invade the sleep of his captors and secure his freedom. After punishing Alexander with an unending cycle of nightmares, a weakened Dream journeys to his realm via the dreamscape and begins a quest to locate his missing totems of power.

Preludes and Nocturnes ends with "The Sound Of Her Wings", an important single-issue story that serves as an epilogue to the preceding story-arc. Dream's older sister, Death, is introduced as she attempts to talk Dream out of a brief period of depression. Gaiman's interpretation of Death - a young, attractive and mellow Goth lass - is very different from the norm and, even though she features only briefly in Preludes and Nocturnes, it is easy to see why she became one of the most popular and important characters in The Sandman universe.

There is certainly a great deal of hype surrounding the whole of The Sandman series and its promises of literary greatness, but newcomers can rest assured that the hype and the praise that is heaped on the series is greatly deserved. The Sandman was a truly innovative project and one that Neil Gaiman pulled off with great aplomb; in the same vein as Alan Moore's work on Watchmen, with The Sandman Gaiman demonstrated just how good [and weighty and important etc] comics can be and, in doing so, widened the appeal of the genre considerably. The Sandman took itself seriously in a good way. The stories that make up the series are dark and deep; Gaiman's writing is always intelligent as well as emotive, references to history, myth and comics lore abound, and the action always serves a purpose.

While Preludes and Nocturnes may not be the cream of The Sandman crop, it still features two excellent stories and would no doubt be considered the pinnacle of the story if they were featured in other, lesser series. Although he is clearly still working through ideas about the character of Dream, Gaiman is at his creative best throughout the whole of the series and Preludes and Nocturnes contains an ideas bonanza that forms the foundations of the later volumes. In this first volume, the back-story of Dream is established and many important characters and themes are introduced. He may be the embodiment of dreams and so extremely powerful within certain confines but, selfish, insensitive and prone to melancholy, Dream is certainly a flawed hero. Gaiman takes a lot of time introducing Dream and building up the different layers of his personality so that The Sandman series is able to rest on the shoulders of a firmly established and intriguingly ambiguous central character.

In the same way as Gaiman still developing his story ideas in this volume, the artwork in Preludes and Nocturnes is a little hit and miss, with the final style of the series only being established towards the end of the book. Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III each get a turn to demonstrate their vision for The Sandman in this first volume. All three were quite new to the comics medium when they began working on The Sandman and their styles were still developing. Kieth did great work capturing the horror elements of the story with his visceral renditions of Hell and its gruesome inhabitants, while Dringenberg offered a great portrayal of Dream and created the unusual image of Death that was to prove so popular. Jones' illustrative line work brought a cohesive and definitive look to the whole series. There is one particular artistic highpoint on display in Preludes and Nocturnes though - Dave McKean's excellent painted [and assembled] covers set the benchmark for all cover artists.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, great art, great for fans of Gaiman, 12 July 2011
By 
Lark (North Coast of Ireland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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.
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