Morpheus has a unique family tree. He is one of seven siblings known as the Endless. They are the embodiments of Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium. They are more powerful than gods and they each have a task to do (coincidently they have to do what their name implies). And then one day, Destruction decided that he’s had enough and abandoned his realm and his family. After 300 years, Delirium realizes that she misses she misses her older brother, thus setting in motion the events of Brief Lives.
Brief Lives is the seventh volume of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. It collects issues #41-49. This volume humanizes Dream more than the other installments. He’s moping and feeling sorry for himself after his girlfriend dumps him, when Delirium asks him to help find Destruction. He only agrees to go with Delirium to distract himself, and he gradually gets emotionally invested with the journey. He is changing but he refuses to acknowledge it, even when others point it out to him.
Dream and Delirium embark on one of the weirdest road trips in literary history, trying to track down characters that know where Destruction is hiding. The problem is that everyone they’re trying to track down keep getting killed, an unfortunate byproduct of Destruction’s safeguards. Dream feels regret that people have died, something he wouldn’t have felt thousands of years ago.
Dream and Delirium eventually succeed in their task and are briefly reunited with their brother and his talking dog. They shoot the shit for a while. Destruction explains why he left and why he’s not returning. They have philosophical discussions about who they are, what they represent, and if they are even necessary.
Brief Lives showcases the unique relationships that the Endless have with each other and with us lowly mortals. Mortals die. Gods die. Even the Endless can end. We all have brief lives. Oh, I get it now. That’s clever, Mr. Gaiman. Brief Lives is another interesting and enjoyable volume of The Sandman, full of great moments and characters.
Critically Rated at 14/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young