Saturday, April 18, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Comics That Shaped Me (Part 6)

SANDMAN (1989-1996)

If I tried to cover everything that is in the mind-blowing Sandman comic that was published by DC/Vertigo from 1989-96, I would be here for months. Sandman was a bit of a revelation. A character I hadn't heard of before, with cool Dave McKean covers, and a lead character that was the ultimate goth - I thought I should check it out. I think the first issue I picked up in the comic store was issue five or six, but luckily I was on board early enough that I could get the first missing issues before they went up in value to crazy money.

Sandman wasn't a superhero comic as I was expecting. It was about The Endless - godlike entities that govern the universe. Destiny, Destruction, Death, Desire, Delight (who became Delirium), Despair, and the title character of the comic, Dream. Dream, or Morpheus, starts the series mistakenly captured by occultists hoping to capture Death, wishing immortality, but they imprison Dream for seventy years. They take away his objects of power, and when he finally escapes he enacts vengeance on his captors, needs to reclaim his objects, and restore order to his realm, The Dreaming.

Some dreams have escaped into the waking world, and the story of Dream's hopes to fix everything that has happened while he's been imprisoned takes him on a journey of self discovery and his ultimate fate. It's epic. I mean, seriously epic. Tales that span millennia, incorporating award winning Shakespearian storylines, and starting the rationalisation of the "dark DC Universe". Talk about a massive undertaking. Add to this, it was still part of DC continuity, and included appearances from John Constantine, the Martian Manhunter, and even Batman and Green Lantern - but Sandman, along with Books of Magic, helped define the universe.

Neil Gaiman's writing is emotional, clever, and so brilliantly researched - not just in the comics he was unifying, but in myth, literature and storytelling, that I often felt that I only skim the surface of the references and meaning within those pages.

Seventy Five issues later it came to an emotional end, but it wasn't the last we'd see of Morpheus. Sandman: Overture is one of the most gorgeous comics you'll see. The legacy of Sandman still continues today, with The Sandman Universe comics and the return of the spin off comics The Dreaming, The Books of Magic and Lucifer - yes, that Lucifer that became the TV series you all love...

I'm excited to see what Netflix do with the forthcoming Sandman series...

Back in the early 90's, just about everything I read came from DC's Vertigo imprint. And thanks to that, comes tomorrow's comic...

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