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‘The Sandman Universe #1’ (review)

Story by Neil Gaiman
Written by Dan Watters, Kat Howard,
Nalo Hopkinson, Simon Spurrier
Illustrated by Sebastian Fiumara, Max Fiumara,
Tom Fowler, Domonike Stanton, Bilquis Evely
Published by Vertigo Comics

 

This week marks the first return of Gaiman to Sandman since 2013’s Sandman Overture prequel released 17 years after The Sandman #75 and some notable spinoffs. The anthology first issue for The Sandman Universe arrived this week to solve the mystery of the missing Dream of the Endless.

Morpheus, The Sandman and Daniel Dreaming are of course names for one special being that is a member of the immortal family The Endless in his realm of The Dreaming. He has gone missing and librarian Lucien and Sandman’s other servants Cain, Abel, Mervyn and Matthew the Raven set to find him.

This is the spine for the introductory comic in four parts by different creative teams.

The Sandman Universe will launch with The Dreaming starring Lucien the librarian, Nuala of Faerie, and Dora. Writer Nalo Hopkinson gives us House of Whispers plus the return of a Vertigo volume of Lucifer.

One of our favorite and unrecognized Sandman related stories also returns with Books of Magic, highlighting a bespectacled young man who just happens to be high school aged. With Gaiman at the helm of this book edited by new Vertigo editor Mark Doyle we may just be returning to a new age of Vertigo Comics for the modern audience.

Each vignette gives the reader a few pages of an introduction to these new books as well as an update on the current status quo of The Sandman. Taking the reader through four short stories is Matthew as he seeks out Morpheus, but the real revelation is that perhaps he does not want to be found.

In The Dreaming, cracks of surreality are ever widening as The Sandman’s servants await their master among his galleries and his sigil. Dora, the monstress without memories inhabits the dream world of someone with a terminal condition in a hospital bed, using The Dreaming as a place of solace. The Dreaming will be written by Si Spurrier and fits well into the world.

Kat Howard reintroduces young wizard Timothy Hunter as he learns about Books of Magic. Something strange is afoot in his London school when he discovers his teacher is not who he thinks she it.

Nola Hopkinson sets her House of Whispers in New Orleans and now voodoo will be a strong part of The Dreaming as House of Whispers joins both the House of Secrets and House of Mystery as a new powerful house. This new element can be very interesting to balance the various forces at play.

Gaiman’s Lucifer is almost as recognized by the public and comic fans as Dream is, and the story concludes this volume to preview the new Lucifer series from Dan Watters. Some, if not all of this particular issue is hard to follow without some prior knowledge but since this Lucifer is literally the devil and the same “Paradise Lost” painting Lex Luthor is obsessed with in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice is recreated to represent the evil one.

Also, there are crows, many crows.

I think this does a fair job to raise awareness about The Sandman Universe and I will be sure to read anything Gaiman does for the project. I’m probably all the way in for Books of Magic and Lucifer, and still need to be convinced on the other two.

A steep knowledge of The Dreaming and The Sandman and Death universe is not required to pick up this issue, but this is hardly a good place to just jump in! Do some basic research if you need to know how important these comics are to modern storytelling.

When all is said and done, I think Doyle and Gaiman are great choices to bring back a sense of order/disorder to the Vertigo line and I look forward to reading more.

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