Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Sandman: Vol I: Preludes & Nocturnes (1991)

Author: Neil Gaiman | Illustrators: Sam Kieth / Mike Dringenberg |
Page Count:  235

"I'd just had this nightmare.  These things with faces like appendectomy scars were crocheting my intestines into body bags for the blind and dead."

Book 1 of 10 in Gaiman’s Sandman saga brings together the More Than Rubies storyline.  The Lord of all Dreaming, Morpheus, gets into a spot of trouble with an enthusiastic occultist who steals his possessions, magical things that weren't ever meant for the human world.  Morpheus spends most of the remainder of the book trying to get them back.  His journey takes him to places he'd rather not set foot.

It had been years since I last read this and I’d forgotten how closely tied it was to the DC universe at the beginning.  It’s not until the epilogue that the first phase of where Gaiman would eventually take the character begins to surface.  Until then it exists in a number of already established genres, from the traditional English fireside horror tale, through generic dark fantasy territory and even the merging of horror with the superhero genre.  It didn’t fit with that genre at all so it’s good that it was just an experiment.  There is one person from the DC Vertigo pantheon that did fit right into the Sandman world but I won’t spoil it by saying who.

Some of the dialogue is embarrassingly bad in the first few chapters but don’t be put off by that, it really does get better, much better.  Despite the dodgy wording there are some very interesting ideas under the surface, ideas that have deeper connotations than may be initially apparent.  We are also introduced to a number of bit players that will return later and play bigger roles, but of course we didn't know that at the start, so it rewards repeated readings later down the line.

The book collects together Sandman issues 1 - 8.

3½ all night parties at the 24 hour diner out of 5

Note: At time of writing, the official DC site is offering the first Sandman issue FREE as a PDF.

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