If you say that you like comics and you’ve never read The Sandman, then you don’t know even what comics are capable of. In this first volume of the acclaimed series, writer Neil Gaiman introduces you The Sandman, who is also known as Dream, Morpheus, or a dozen other pseudonyms. Dream is what he sounds like, he is the master of the Dreamworld, he controls dreams, he is Dream. Not a bad gig right? Neil Gaiman blends history, myth, religion, magic, and creates one of the best works of literature of all time. Yeah, it’s that fucking good.
Preludes & Nocturnes collects the first eight issues of the series. It begins in 1916 when Roderick Burgess tries to capture Death and winds up capturing her brother Dream instead. Dream is held captive for more than seventy years. Burgess dies and his son Alex takes over holding Dream hostage. Dream is able to escape, and traps Alex in a perpetual nightmare as punishment.
Dream returns to the Dreamworld and Cain and Abel restore his health. As Dream inspects his kingdom, he finds it in shambles. That’s what happens when you neglect your kingdom for a few decades. Dream embarks on a quest for his totems of power: a bag of sand, his helm, and his ruby, which he lost while imprisoned.
Dream decides to track down his sand pouch first. He gets a little help from John Constantine. One of Constantine’s ex-girlfriends has it and eventually Dream is reunited with his magic dream sand.
Next up is the helm, and Dream finds out that a demon has it. He goes to Hell to pay Lucifer a visit and reclaim it. He has a battle of wits with the demon that currently lays claim to it. Dream is victorious and leaves Hell with Lucifer and the demons grudging against him.
The last item he seeks is his ruby, and that is the hardest one to obtain. Dream put a lot of his power into it, so much that whoever is in possession of it is more powerful than him. And a creepy little guy named John Dee has it now. You might recognize John Dee as the DC villain Doctor Destiny.
John Dee wreaks some havoc toying with the Dreamworld and disrupting the order of things. John Dee and Dream have a dual and Dream is losing when John Dee destroys the Ruby and its power is returned to Dream, making him more powerful than he’s been in centuries.
Preludes & Nocturnes wraps up by introducing Death, Dream’s punky, gothic, and attractive sister. They have a weird little family dynamic. You can tell they are siblings by the way they converse and bicker with each other. They have an interesting conversation as Dream feeds pigeons and as Death goes around collecting recently deceased souls.
Preludes & Nocturnes does a great job of establishing Dream/Morpheus as the brooding and powerful main character. You begin to understand who he is and what he is capable of. And you learn that he has a lot of flaws for a semi-deity. There are introductions to a lot of characters that have key roles in the series later on. They plant the seeds for story arcs that only become apparent as you read on.
Neil Gaiman is gearing up to take you on a great ride. He’s preparing your mind for a world where anything can happen, and by the end of this volume you are ready to embrace the world of The Sandman.
Critically Rated at 16/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young