People say comics are for kids. That at some point you outgrow them. Plenty of grown adults who would disagree wholeheartedly with that statement. Blending visual and literary storytelling can lead to some of the most compelling stories out there. I’ve reviewed 2 Sisters, and I’ve read V for Vendetta before. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Sandman.
No, it’s not about the shape-shifter made of sand from Spider-Man 3. Published by Vertigo, which is owned by DC Comics, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes is the first book in a series about Morpheus, a powerful entity with dark hair and even darker eyes. Stripped of his powers, Morpheus must reclaim his rightful place as the Master of Dreams before the world plunges into chaos. Sounds like a fairly typical comic plot, I know, but I refuse to give anything substantial away. Gaiman’s comic isn’t hailed as the greatest comic of all time for nothing. You’ll have to read it yourself.
What can I tell you about The Sandman, you ask? It’s bizarre in only a way that Gaiman can pull off. Granted, he only writes the stories. A team of illustrators brought all the creepy, twisted monsters to the page. Everything originated from Gaiman’s imagination, though. The ooze dripping from the walls, the riddles of Hell and all the demons under Satan’s command, even the interactions with other DC characters are all Gaiman’s ideas.
Plenty of classic DC characters and locations are referenced, and some even make an appearance. John Constantine receives a visit from Morpheus Arkham Asylum serves as a setting over several issues. Even Batman shows up, if only in a vision.
That being said, Morpheus’ journey takes him to the fringes of the DC Universe, primarily venturing to new territories where few of the classic DC characters would stand a chance. In no way, shape, or form do you have to be a DC fan to appreciate The Sandman. Think of it as more of a bonus.
There’s not much of the classic comic-book style BANG or POW in this. Gaiman opts for a darker, more terrifying vision, with very little physical conflict. Everything is either intelligent wordplay or mysterious, supernatural powers. Morpheus’ abilities are never spelled out for us, leaving us with a sense of wonder as to what he is capable of. There is one moment near the end where my eyes widened and I couldn’t help but whisper, “Whoa!” The buildup to it makes it even more powerful.
If you aren’t a comic fan, I feel that The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes will prove to be beyond entertaining, if not downright captivating. Most importantly, it proves that comics are one of the greatest media for storytelling.
If you’ve read The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, let me know what your thoughts are.
I’m always looking for new stories, no matter the medium. If you know of any great books, movies, or video games that you absolutely love, let me know in the comments and, if I hadn’t read it, I’ll add it to the list!