Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reviews: The Sandman (Volumes 1-5)

Seriously, how can I call this blog a Gaimaniac one if it does not house my punctured thought balloons about one of the Dream King’s most famous creation—The Sandman graphic novels? Ah, that will be corrected now. Here’s the first half of the series, featuring the volumes Preludes and Nocturnes, The Doll’s House, Dream Country, Seasons of Mists, and A Game of You.


1PRELUDES AND NOCTURNES
Synopsis:
A wizard attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. Fearful for his safety, the wizard kept him imprisoned in a glass bottle for decades. After his escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On the way, Morpheus encounters Lucifer and demons from Hell, the Justice League, and John Constantine, the Hellblazer.

My thoughts:
I understand how it needs to plant the literary seeds so that in the next volumes, the plants of the plot would sprout out to life with well-defined story arcs. It’s a captivating read, a good springboard to a new mythology that an older audience will surely enjoy. I used to refer to the whole series as “graphic novels for the thinking man”, and I still think of it that way. (read more)

2
THE DOLL'S HOUSE
Synopsis:
As part of a manhood ritual, an old man in the desert tells a younger man an ancient story, detailing the tragic love between Dream and Queen Nada. Fearing the consequences of loving an immortal, Nada spurns Dream. In anger, Dream sends Nada to Hell, where she remains to the present day. Meanwhile, Dream's androgynous sibling Desire calls upon its twin, Despair, to inform her there is a new dream vortex. The two of them allude to a scheme against Dream.

My thoughts:
While Morpheus starred in the forefront in Preludes and Nocturnes, he takes a backseat in The Doll’s House. Here, mortals—the Walkers—fueled the story. This is a good follow-up to Preludes and Nocturnes. The twisted darkness is still there, writhing beneath the melancholic tone of the whole tome. (read more)


3DREAM COUNTRY
Synopsis:
The third volume of the Sandman collection is a series of four short comic book stories. In each of these otherwise unrelated stories, Morpheus serves only as a minor character. Here we meet the mother of Morpheus's son, find out what cats dream about, and discover the true origin behind Shakespeare's work A Midsummer's Night Dream.

My thoughts:
The Sandman graphic novels are a myriad of styles in themselves; stories are told in different angles, from different perspectives. Dream Country is a wonderful compilation of quartet, dream-like short stories. It’s amazing how Neil Gaiman can use his mythology to produce other tales and at the same time giving us a glimpse of more sides of the Endless through the new tales. (read more)


4SEASONS OF MISTS
Synopsis:
”Lucifer has grown tired of being the lord of Hell. He kicks out the demons and the damned alike, closes up shop, and gives the key tp Hell to Morpheus. Beings from all the world's mythologies converge on the lord of Dream to seize this instrument of power.”

My thoughts:
For me, Season of Mists (The Sandman volume 4, issues 21-28) is where Neil Gaiman really starts to unspool the threads of his own magic at length, weaving them to the first filaments of the series’ foundation that we found in Preludes and Nocturnes and The Doll’s House. Here we get more than just fragments of the enigmatic central character of the series, Morpheus; ; we get to see his depth and how he slowly gets to have more touches of humanity in himself. (read more)

5A GAME OF YOU
Synopsis:
Take an apartment house, mix in a drag queen, a lesbian couple, some talking animals, a talking severed head, a confused heroine, and the deadly Cuckoo. Stir vigorously with a hurricane and Morpheus himself and you get this fifth installment of the Sandman series. This story stars Barbie, who first makes an appearance in The Doll's House, who here finds herself a princess in a vivid dream world.

My thoughts:
A Game of You tackles several themes that reappear frequently across the whole Sandman series, but mostly the spotlight is on the power of dreams, finding your own identity, how sometimes oneself is one’s source of suffering, friendship, and sexuality. (read more)

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