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

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Dreaming: Beyond the Shores of Night (1998)

Authors: Terry LaBan / Peter Hogan / Alisa Kwitney | Illustrators: Peter Snejbjerg / Steve Parkhouse / Michael Zulli  |  Page Count: 208

The likeliest hypothesis we’ve come up with is that we're dead.  Everything else seems too far-fetched.”

The first regular offshoot of The Sandman.  It lasted an impressive 60 issues, most of which have unfortunately never been reprinted.  Besides the one you’re reading about, the only other available TPB is Through the Gates of Horn and Ivory (1999), and there’s a single issue included in The Sandman Presents: Taller Tales (2003).  The rest are only obtainable by seeking out the original single issue publications and that’ll likely cost a lot more than they were originally worth.  I wish I could say that I have them already, but I don't.

Beyond the Shores of Night contains three stories all set in or around elements of the Dreaming.  Does it have any Sandman characters?  Yes.  It’s much too difficult to skirt around which ones exactly because they’re prominent in all three, so I'm just going to go ahead and say.  It’s what most people want to know, anyhow.  If you’re not one of those people, then please don’t read any further.

01. The Goldie Factor:
A three-part tale about Abel’s pet gargoyle, Goldie, whose origins have hitherto been shrouded in mystery.  All we'd been told previously is that, in an uncharacteristic gesture of niceness, Cain gave her to Abel while she was still an egg.  Even the little winged creature doesn't know where she came from.  But all that is about the change.  It’s not the most exciting adventure and some of it's clearly filler to get it across three issues, but the ending is memorable and it’s good to see the sad-faced gargoyle get something meaningful to do.

02. The Lost Boy:
A four-part story featuring a returning Sandman secondary character that I don’t have to name.  Yay.  Unfortunately the person speaks with an accent and is written to reflect that, meaning it’s as irritating to read as Abel’s dialogue was in the previous work.  Again, the story is longer than it ought to have been.

03. His Brother’s Keeper:
A one issue tale that’s much closer to the kind of storytelling found in the original Sandman series.  Perhaps the previous two stories were an attempt to get away from it—it is a separate title after all—but it doesn't change the fact that His Brother’s Keeper is by far the best of the three.  It begins as an unscheduled meeting in the House of Mystery and develops into something much darker.

Overall, it could be a lot better than it is, but revisiting the Dreaming, even in a lesser way, is still an enjoyable way to spend some waking time.

The book collects together The Dreaming, issues 1 - 8.

3 personal hells out of 5

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