Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Sandman: Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman and various artists

 

(pb; 1992-3, 2011: graphic novel, collects issues 41-9 of the comic book The Sandman. Afterword” by Peter Straub. Eighth book in the thirteen-book Sandman graphic novel series.)


Overall review:

Lives is one of the more focused Sandman story arcs, making it one of the best in its in graphic novel oeuvre. This is excellent and memorable, one worth owning.

Again, the artists, letterers and colorists who bring Gaiman’s transcend-the-genre writing to vivid, distinctive representation are top-notch and genre-defining. Worth owning, this. Followed by The Sandman: World’s End.


Review, issue by issue

Caveat: possible─if you prefer not to know anything about what you’re about to read─minor spoilers for those who have not read these Sandman comics.


Brief Lives, Chapter 1” (#41): An old man (Andros), keeping with family tradition, helps guard the grave of Johanna Constantine (1760-1859, ancestor of John Constantine) and Orpheus’s living head.

Elsewhere, Delirium─sad, disturbed─looks for her eldest Endless brother.

 

Brief Lives, Chapter 2” (#42): Delirium visits Morpheus in the Dreaming, asks him to aid her in her quest to find their eldest brother.

 

Brief Lives, Chapter 3” (#43): Morpheus and Delirium make travel arrangements in the Waking World via Pharamond (a.k.a. Mr. Farrell), a Babylonian god-turned-businessman.

Etain, a young woman, barely escapes an early morning disaster in her apartment.

 

Brief Lives, Chapter 4” (#44): Delirium, Morpheus and Ruby Elisabeth DeLonge (their human driver, in Mr. Farrell’s employ) try to visit a lawyer (Bernard Capax) who─for unexplained reasons─might know the whereabouts of the Endless sibling’s brother.

Also: Morpheus thinks about a meeting with the sibling they seek, a long-ago memory where the Corinthian is shown.

 

Brief Lives, Chapter 5” (#45): Morpheus and Delirium, with Matthew’s help, locate the next person on Delirium’s list: a “dancing woman” (Ishtar, a.k.a. Astarte) and friend to fellow stripper, Tiffany.

Conversations, death and destruction ensue. Desire makes an important appearance in this issue.

 

Brief Lives, Chapter 6” (#46): Delirium and Morpheus part ways for a time. Morpheus visits Lady Bast, whom he has not seen in two years. Death pays Morpheus a visit.

 

Brief Lives, Chapter 7” (#47): Morpheus and Delirium resume their seeking of their eldest Endless brother, Destruction. Morpheus visits Orpheus. Delirium and Morpheus arrive at Destruction’s home, where he lives with a plain-spoken dog named Barnabus.

 

Brief Lives, Chapter 8” (#48): Morpheus and Delirium attend a dinner with Destruction and Barnabus, speak of why Destruction has absented himself from his family, the world and his ex-lover (Ishtar).

 

Brief Lives, Chapter 9” (#49): Morpheus and Delirium speak with their sister, Despair. Morpheus visits Orpheus again and, in doing so, fulfills a wish Desire made regarding Morpheus. Many of the characters seen in this nine-issue story arc resume their lives, some of them with a different attitudes than they previously held.

Sunday, June 06, 2021

The Sandman: Fables & Reflections by Neil Gaiman and various artists

 

(pb; 1991-3, 2011: graphic novel, collects issues 29-31, 38-40, 50, Special #1 and Vertigo Preview #1 of the comic book The Sandman. Introduction” by Gene Wolfe. Seventh book in the thirteen-book Sandman graphic novel series.

 

From the back cover

“[Fables]. . . follows the Lord of Dreams through nine remarkable tales as he touches lives from the mists of the past to the nightmares of the present. In these episodes, kings and spies, emperors and actors, ravens and werewolves all share their stories and their dreams─dreams of life and love, and of power and darkness.”

 

Overall review:

Fables is a solid collection of mostly side-stories revolving around the Sandman. A few issues, like “Soft Places” and “Parliament of Rooks,” are direct offshoot tales that fill in certain backstories of previously published stories and characters.

Again, the artists, letterers and colorists who bring Gaiman’s transcend-the-genre writing to vivid, distinctive representation are top-notch and genre-defining. Worth owning, this. Followed by The Sandman: Brief Lives.

 

Review, issue by issue

Caveat: possible─if you prefer not to know anything about what you’re about to read─minor spoilers for those who have not read these Sandman comics.


Fear of Falling” (Vertigo Preview #1): Todd Faber, an insecure playwright, faces certain terrors.

 

Three Septembers and a January” (#29): September 1889, Northern California. Despair, Morpheus’s sibling, challenges the Dream King to try and save a seriously depressed man (Joshua Norton), later the self-proclaimed “Emperor of the United States.” A young man named Samuel Clemens, as does Delirium, Desire and Death, makes an appearance in this issue.

 

Thermidor” (#30): June 28, 1794, Wych Cross, England. Johanna Constantine, an adventurer who crossed paths with Morpheus five years prior, aids the Dream King during the Reign of Terror. Orpheus, the Dream King’s son, makes an appearance.

 

The Hunt” (#31): An old man tells his snarky granddaughter an Old-World fable about a young man, his encounters with a gypsy as well as supernatural beings (including Lucien and his boss, the Dream King).

 

August” (#38): In ancient Rome, the emperor Augustus pretends to be a beggar, with a dwarf actor by his side. This is an especially sad issue.

 

Soft Places” (#39): 1273 AD. Marco Polo, crossing a desert, dreams and encounters friendly, odd people, including the recently freed Sandman (check out The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes).

 

Orpheus” (Sandman Special #1): The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is told.

 

Parliament of Rooks” (#40): A baby (Daniel) dreams of meeting Matthew (Morpheus’s blackbird), Abel and Cain (from the House of Mystery) and Eve (from a certain Garden). Daniel is told how the two Biblical brothers met Morpheus and Death. This is one of my favorite issues in this collection.

 

Ramadan” (#50): In Baghdad, a merchant tells a story of how a long-ago Baghdad caliph (Haroun Al Rashid) tries to preserve the beauty of his city. This is one of my favorite issues in this collection.

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Tawdry Tales and Confessions from Horror’s Boy Next Door by William Butler

(oversized pb; 2021: nonfiction/memoir)

From the back cover

“In the last forty years, actor, director and former effects artist William Butler has easily lived three lifetimes. From his early beginnings creating super-8 horror shorts and working the circus midway to a blissful existence as a producer-director living in the Hollywood hills, he’s seen it all, gained it all and lost it all.

Tawdry Tales chronicles the jaw-dropping, sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking life an industrious young artist who started out with an unflinching determination to work in film and who’s somehow became ‘Horror’s Boy Next Door,’ appearing in dozens of movies along the genre’s most legendary villains, including Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th, Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the George Romero zombies from Night of the Living Dead. Butler chalks it all up to having a face you just want to hit with a butch knife.

“Butler lovingly has transcribed thirty-five years’ worth of journals he kept into one fascinating and heartfelt memoir that follows his story around the world as he worked with and, in some cases, lived with some of Hollywood’s most beloved and ‘colorful’ personalities including Viggo Mortensen, Leslie Jordan, Tom Sizemore and the legendary Prince.”

 

Review

Tawdry is a fast-moving, heartfelt, funny, smart, and relatable tell-all book about how Butler went from making backyard films and FX with his small-town childhood friends (including John Vulich, who later went on to become a legendary FX artist) to becoming an FX artist himself, as well as a successful, LA-based writer and director, one who struggled with chemical addiction and his sexuality.

There’s a lot of great stories in this, from his chance meeting with film director Joe Dante, working with FX legends Tom Savini and John Carl Buechler, as well as actors Kane Hodder, Malcolm McDowell, Barbara Crampton, Jeffrey Combs, Klaus Kinski, Royal Dano, Yvonne DeCarlo Christopher Reeve, Danny Trejo, and Madonna.

An excellent and hard-to-set-down read, this is worth owning, whether you’re a hardcore movie fan or a more casual reader who enjoys reading about celebrities and character actors.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Special by James Newman and Mark Steensland

 

(pb; 2018: novella)

Review

When Jerry Harford, a man with self-esteem issues, finds out his wife (Lisa) has been cheating on him, his best friend and co-worker (Mike) takes him a strange, Russian whore house where Jerry gets his ashes hauled. Unfortunately, Jerry has an addict’s personality, and nobody (not even the commanding Madame Zhora or her bouncer, Ivan) can stop him from getting what he wants.

Special is a fun, compelling, sometimes hilarious, and relatively restrained (considering its ickalicious elements) eighty-four-page novella that wastes no words in telling its character-sketched tale, a quick-escalation work with the feel of an Eighties B movie (I could imagine Frank Henenlotter or Stuart Gordon directing a film version of this). Despite its inherently pervy McGuffin, Special is surprisingly mainstream in its language, violence and delivery, nowhere near as sleazy as it could be. Chalk that up to Newman and Steensland’s excellent, cut-to-it, character-focused writing. This is a book worth owning if you love ‘80s B flick book horror, aren’t a prude, and like your pleasures short, sharp and fast.

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The resulting film was released stateside on October 13, 2020. B. Harrison Smith directed it, from a screenplay by source-book authors James Newman and Mark Steensland.

Davy Raphaely played Jerry. Dave Sheridan played Mike. Sarah French played Lisa.

Doug Henderson played Ivan. Susan Moses played Madame Zhora. Paul Cottman played Det. Barnes.

Darkman: The Price of Fear by Randall Boyll

 

(pb; 1994; second entry in the book-only Darkman quadrilogy)

From the back cover

Darkman: Once Peyton Westlake was a brilliant scientist conducing ground-breaking work with artificial skin─but his life was changed forever when vicious gangsters destroyed his lab and left him horribly burned beyond recognition. At that moment, Peyton Westlake died and re-emerged from the hellish fire as DARKMAN, a creature of the night driven by superhuman rage. Using his artificial skin process and his ability to become anyone for ninety-nine minutes, DARKMAN extracted a deadly revenge on the men who destroyed his life.

“When Darkman stumbles across a plot to take control of Eastview Estates, an exclusive real estate development, he decides to put a stop to it by infiltrating the criminal organization responsible. But soon, DARKMAN finds more than he bargained for as he becomes embroiled in  a dangerous web of murder and corruption.

“For little does he know that an ancient evil stalks the city, and DARKMAN may be his next victim.”

 

Review

Darkman, seen in his Robert G. Durant mask by some of Durant’s ex-partners-in-crime, is drawn into their plan to violently clear a particular neighborhood (Eastview Estates) of its residents so the criminals’ corporate mystery-boss can purchase, raze, and redevelop it. The street-level gang, led by a lowlife named Stryker, eventually leads Darkman back into contact with Julie Hastings (his fiancée in Darkman), whose professional contacts include John McCoy (sleazy lawyer from Darkman: The Hangman) and, quite possibly, Stryker’s corporate puppet master, who’s a top-tier predator.

A Story-B plot runs through Price─one that centers around a crazed psychiatric patient (Alfred Lowell, identifying as the “Witchfinder”) who has taken it upon himself to burn all evil women he finds.

Boyll, again, delivers a thrilling, pulpy, and tightly penned antihero actioner, with colorful villainy, a mile-wide vein of dark and goofy humor, pathos and a fast-moving plot that manages to incorporate societal concerns while providing occasional splatter. It’s especially impressive how Boyll keeps his Darkman books (thus far) true to his source movie tie-in novel while gradually expanding the characters and themes within the books. As with Darkman and Hangman, Price is worth owning.

Followed by Darkman: The Gods of Hell.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Sandman: A Game of You by Neil Gaiman and various artists

 

(1991-2, 2011: graphic novel, collects issues 32-7 of the comic book The Sandman. Introduction” by Samuel R. Delaney. Sixth book in the thirteen-book Sandman graphic novel series.)

 

From the back cover

“The imagined landscapes of childhood from set the stage for A GAME OF YOU, the [sixth] volume of the complete run of THE SANDMAN. In a long-forgotten corner of the Dreaming, cracks appear in the wall that shields the waking world, and through those gaps a group of young New Yorkers is drawn inexorably into a realm that is both eerily familiar and disturbingly malignant.”

 

Overall review:

Game centers around Barbie, a character last seen in The Sandman: The Doll’s House, two years after the events of that book─it seems that Barbie and her apartment complex neighbors are being stalked by a reality-bizarre “Cuckoo,” whose identity is shrouded in dream-mystery, and whose presence predicts malicious deaths.

Once again, the artists, letterers and colorists who bring Gaiman’s transcend-the-genre writing to vivid, distinctive representation are top-notch and genre-defining. Worth owning, this. Followed by The Sandman: Fables & Reflections.

 

Review, issue by issue

Caveat: possible minor spoilers for those who have not read these Sandman comics.

Slaughter on Fifth Avenue” (#32): Barbie (The Sandman: The Doll’s House, issue 16) has not had a dream in two years. She lives in New York City, walks around it with her roommate (Wanda, born Alvin Mann) and encounters a huge, doglike creature (Martin Tenbones), triggering long-forgotten memories and a dread of “Cuckoos,” something her creepy neighbor George might know about.

 

Lullabies of Broadway” (#33): Barbie’s lesbian neighbor (Hazel, live-in girlfriend of Foxglove) reveals an embarrassing life-altering secret to Barbie.

Barbie dreams for the first time in two years, entering a fantasyland where she’s “Princess Barbara” to Luz the female monkey, Wilkinson (a beaked creature in an overcoat) and Prinado, a strange  bird.

Meanwhile, Barbie’s neighbors─except for George─have nightmares. Thessaly, a downstairs neighbor, shows that she knows how to protect herself.

 

Bad Moon Rising” (#34): Thessaly, with help from her neighbors (Wanda, Foxglove and Hazel), draw down the moon (a witch-ritual) to try and help Barbie, who dreams.

 

Beginning to See the Light” (#35): Barbie continues to dream. In it, she and her talking animal friends (Luz, Wilkinson and Prinado) hide from the tall, scary Black Guards and escape the spine-shivery, whispery Tweeners, with help from the Porpentine. Then hammers come down.


Over the Sea to Sky” (#36): Barbie, still dreaming, meets the malicious Cuckoo. Thessaly, Hazel and Foxglove force their way into Barbie’s fantasyland-skerry, far older than she is. Morpheus shows up while Wanda, Maisie Hill (issue 32) and everyone else in New York City, batten down because of Hurricane Lisa, a strange event.

 

I Woke Up and One of Us Was Crying” (#37): Morpheus tells Barbie about Alianora, the woman (seen in the previous issue) for whom Barbie’s fantasyland-skerry was created.

Rose Walker, (The Sandman: The Doll’s House, issue 16) and Judy (The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, issue 6) are mentioned in a conversation between the Dream King, Foxglove and Barbie, who knew them.

Barbie, Thessaly, Foxglove and Hazel return to their waking-world lives. Barbie attends two funerals.

Darkman: The Hangman by Randall Boyll

 

(pb; 1994; sequel to the 1990 movie tie-in novel Darkman. First entry in the book-only Darkman quadrilogy.)

From the back cover

Darkman: Once Peyton Westlake was a brilliant scientist conducing ground-breaking work with artificial skin─but his life was changed forever when vicious gangsters destroyed his lab and left him horribly burned beyond recognition. At that moment, Peyton Westlake died and re-emerged from the hellish fire as DARKMAN, a creature of the night driven by superhuman rage. Using his artificial skin process and his ability to become anyone for ninety-nine minutes, DARKMAN extracted a deadly revenge on the men who destroyed his life.

“Now, two years later, DARKMAN has rebuilt his lab in an abandoned factory to continue his work. A chance encounter with a young boy leads DARKMAN to a newevil that’s devouring the youth of the city. DARKMAN’s rage grows once again, and he turns it toward a new enemy─an enemy that will soon learn the depth of his fury. . . and feel the bite of his vengeance.”

 

Review

Hangman, more than a rehash of its source movie tie-in novel, is a fast-moving, entertaining and immediately reader-immersive dark-superhero story with mostly relatable characters (the villains are comic book-y, hissable bad guys)─Boyll strikes a perfect balance between action-book character sketching and character fleshing, especially in regards to ten-year-old lead (Danny “Mouse” Frakes). That balance is further maintained with Hangman’s source film/book-true quirky, humorous touches and its eschewing of clichés, and its deftly written, relatively happy ending that is at once familiar and fresh. Excellent B-flick genre read, this, worth owning. Followed by Darkman: The Price of Fear.

Friday, May 21, 2021

The Sandman: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman and various artists

 

(pb; 1990-1, 2010: graphic novel, collects issues 21-28 of the comic book The Sandman. Introduction” by Harlan Ellison. Fifth book in the thirteen-book Sandman graphic novel series.)

 

From the back cover

“Ten thousand years ago, Morpheus the King of Dreams, condemned a woman who loved him to eternal damnation. In Season of Mists, the other members of his immortal family, the Endless, convince him that this was an injustice. To correct it, he must journey to Hell and rescue his banished love. But Lucifer, the Lord of Hell, has sworn to destroy Morpheus, and Lucifer’s plans are subtle.”

 

Overall review

Season has one of the best story arcs of the Sandman comic book. It presents daunting, delicate-balance situations for the Dream King, who must be sensitive, clever and take a discerning view of the long-term repercussions of what he does in these moments─while this is not the first time he’s dealt with razor’s-edge situations, these negotiations concern not only his survival, but his life-defining redemption for a long-ago sin.

Once again, the artists, letterers and colorists who bring Gaiman’s transcend-the-genre writing to vivid, distinctive representation are top-notch and genre-defining. Worth owning, this. Followed by The Sandman: A Game of You.

 

Review, issue by issue

Caveat: possible minor spoilers for those who have not read these Sandman comics.


Season of Mists: A Prologue” (#21): The eldest of the Endless siblings, Destiny, calls a rare family meeting─all but one of the siblings show up. After Desire verbally needles the Dream King about his romantic relationships, particularly his long-banished mortal ex, Nada, it sets Morpheus on a dangerous course.

 

Season of Mists: Chapter 1” (#22): The Dream King puts his affairs in order before setting out to Hell. He sends Cain to Lucifer to announce his forthcoming visit─it would be considered an act of war to do anything less. Hippolyta Hall (The Sandman: The Doll’s House, issue 12) and Hob Gadling (The Sandman: The Doll’s House, issue 13) appear in this issue.

 

Season of Mists: Chapter 2” (#23): Morpheus, ready to battle the more-powerful Lucifer to free Nada, is stunned to discover a everything-changes turn of events within the nether territory’s vast boundaries.

 

Season of Mists: Chapter 3” (#24): Odin, “the Gallows-God, the one-eyed king of Asgard,” Loki Wolf-Father, and Thor, along with many other gods and divine entities from various mythology-shrouded realms, make their way to Morpheus’s kingdom (the Dreaming) to claim the recently abandoned, incredibly vast real estate called Hell.

 

Season of Mists: Chapter 4” (#25): December 1990. The dead, freed from Hell (whether they want to be or not), return to the realm of the living. At a boarding school (St. Hilarion’s), even the horrible, rotting attendance of their former students and teachers cannot upset the careful balance of the school’s temperament and schedule. This is a particularly black-humored issue in the series─I laughed a lot.

 

Season of Mists: Chapter 5” (#26): The multi-species supranatural guests from different realms attend a dinner in the Dreaming, most of them trying to sway a troubled Morpheus to hand them Hell’s master’s key. Flirtations, drunkenness, threats, betrayals and interactions in between occur while Morpheus and Silver City angels, Duma (“angel of silence”) and Remiel (“set over those who rise”) watch.

 

Season of Mists: Chapter 6” (#27): Morpheus, based on his interactions with his guests, gives up Hell’s key to its new owner(s). Drama ensues when one of the guests, Azrael, does not react well to the Dream King’s decision.

 

Season of Mists: Epilogue” (#28): Hell’s new owner(s)─aware of the cosmic balance their mandated stewardship maintains, but perhaps blind to its two-fold nature─take their realm in hand while its denizens return. Morpheus, fleshed as Kai’ckul, speaks with his previously condemned ex (Nada) for the first time in ten thousand years. An issue regarding Loki Wolf-Father is also addressed by the Dream King. Nuala and her sibling, Cluracan─subjects of the fairy Titania─add further, if equally brief, drama to Morpheus’s day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Darkman by Randall Boyll

 

(pb; 1990: movie tie-in novel, based on a screenplay by Sam Raimi, Chuck Pfarrer, Ivan Raimi, Daniel Goldin and Joshua Goldin.)

From the back cover

“Once he had a normal life, a beautiful girlfriend, and a brilliant medical career─creating synthetic skin for accident victims. Then he was a victim himself, brutally attacked by sadistic criminals─his face and body burned beyond recognition.

“Now he walks the night, searching for the woman he loves. A man who looks like a monster, he hopes to salvage his scorched flesh. . .and take revenge on those who destroyed his life.”

 

Review

Darkman─like its counterpart film─is a fun, pulpy, comic book-y action flick with over-the-top, quirky characters and big, explosive, gory action as well as more than a few quotable lines. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, entertaining, sometime darkly funny, sometimes sad action-flick book, this is one worth reading, close enough to its cinematic version to reflect it whilst adding plenty of character-deepening and character-linked wrinkles to the R-rated superheroic storyline. Followed by four book-only offshoot novels, the first of which is Darkman: The Hangman.

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The film version was released stateside on August 24, 1990. Sam Raimi directed it, from a screenplay he co-wrote with Chuck Pfarrer, Ivan Raimi, Daniel Goldin and Joshua Goldin.

Liam Neeson played Peyton Westlake/Darkman. Frances McDormand played Julie Hastings. Nelson Mashita played Yakitito Yanagito.

Jessie Lawrence Ferguson played Eddie Black. Colin Friels played Louis Strack, Jr. Larry Drake played Robert G. Durant.

Rafael H. Robledo played Rudy Guzman. Dan Hicks, billed as Danny Hicks, played Skip Altwater. Ted Raimi, billed as Theodore Raimi, played Rick Desmond. Dan Bell played Smiley (a.k.a. Sam Rogers). Nicholas Worth played Pauly.

Aaron Lustig played Martin Katz. John Landis played “Physician.” An uncredited Jenny Agutter played “Burn Doctor.” Joel Coen played “Oldsmobile Driver.” Ethan Coen played “Oldsmobile Passenger.” Bruce Campbell played “Final Shemp.”

Monday, May 17, 2021

The Sandman: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman and various artists

 

(pb; 1990: graphic novel, collects issues 17-20 of the comic book series The Sandman. Fourth book in the thirteen-book Sandman graphic novel series.)

Overall review

Dream Country sports four often dark and melancholic, sometimes charming and wildly varied side-stories relating to the Endless, 1593 to the 1980s. The artists this time around are Gaiman, Kelley Jones, Malcolm Jones III, Charles Vess, Colleen Doran, featuring characters created by Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg.

Worth owning, this. Followed by The Sandman: Season of Mists.

 

Review, issue by issue

Callipe” (#17): May 1986. An acclaimed author with writer’s block (Richard Madoc) imprisons and rapes the “youngest of the nine Muses” and Morpheus’s ex-amour (Caliope) while the Dream King is being held by the Burgesses (issue 1). Then Morpheus gets free, and things change.

 

A Dream of a Thousand Cats” (#18): A household feline takes a nighttime trip to a local cemetery to hear a human-free cat speak her and her species.

 

A Midsummer’s Night Dream” (#19): June 23, 1593, England. William Shakespeare and his troupe perform the issue-titular play for Morpheus and members of the Endless.

 

Façade” (#20): Urania Blackwell, one of the metamorphae created by the sun god Ra, laments her post-battle-with-Apep-the-serpent-that-never-dies existence, has a life-changing conversation with one of the Endless.

Friday, May 14, 2021

The Sandman: The Doll's House by Neil Gaiman and various artists


(pb; 1989, 1990: graphic novel, collects issues 8-16 of the comic book series The Sandman. Third book in the thirteen-book Sandman graphic novel series.) 

Overall review

Doll’s House continues to mine the rich vein of genre fiction-fused-with-literary gold of the second Sandman volume, Preludes and Nocturnes. This time out, it’s Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Robbie Busch, Chris Bachalo, Michael Zulli, Steve Parkhouse and Dave Kean delivering the heady, less-melancholy-than-Preludes goods, with a storyline about missing entities, nightmare-led “Cereal Growers” and an unwitting, good-natured vortex.

Worth owning, this. Followed by The Sandman: Dream Country.

 

Review, issue by issue

Caveat: possible, vaguely stated spoilers for those who haven’t read Preludes and Nocturnes (Vol. 2).

The Sound of Her Wings” (issue 8): Death, a petite, Goth-pale woman, visits her fellow godling brother (Morpheus) who’s sitting in a Parisian park, feeding pigeons. (This issue is also included in the previous Sandman graphic novel, Preludes and Nocturnes.)

 

Tales in the Sand” (issue 9): During a male coming-of-age ritual, an elder tribesman tells a younger one about a long-ago queen (Nada) who becomes the lover of the Dream Lord, Kai’Ckul─also called Morpheus─and the tragic results of that forbidden love.

 

The Doll’s House” (issue 10): Desire and Despair─younger siblings of Dream, Death and Destiny─speak about Nada and Morpheus. Elsewhere, Miranda Walker and her twenty-one-year-old daughter (Rose) arrive in England after a mysterious benefactor (Unity Kinkaid, an impregnated coma victim in Preludes and Nocturnes) pays for them to be flown over from the US. Lucien, in the Dreamworld, tells Dream (a.k.a. Morpheus) of four missing Major Arcana entities, among them the deeply unsettling Corinthian, a nightmare who births serial killers.

 

Moving In” (issue 11): Rose Walker flies to Florida to find her missing twelve-year-old brother (Jed), whom she hasn’t seen in seven years. What she doesn’t know is he’s chained to a pipe in a wet, dark basement. Meanwhile, Matthew─a deceased mortal-turned-blackbird in Morpheus’s direct service─watches Rose for the Dream King: it seems Rose is a “vortex,” bound to trouble the dreams of those around her, and to draw the attentions of the four missing Major Arcana entities, particularly Glob, Brute, and Fiddler’s Green. The Corinthian continues his sleazy motel killings.

 

Playing House” (issue 12): Hippolyta Hall, pregnant and sharing dream-space with her husband (Harold) and his strange associates, Glob and Brute, faces a harsh reality. Rose Walker and her quirky, middle-aged housemate (Gilbert) head to the state of Georgia to retrieve Jed, who’s escaped his abusive legal guardians (Clarice and her husband, Barnaby). Unfortunately for Jed, he’s just made the acquaintance of someone more sadistic.

 

Men of Good Fortune” (issue 13): 1389, England. Morpheus befriends a man (Hob Gadling) whose pub opinion leads him to being granted eternal life─for as long as he wants it.

 

Collectors” (issue 14): After their car breaks down, Rose Walker and Gilbert─who shows that he’s more than seems─find themselves holed up in a sleazy motel where a “Cereal Growers” (serial killers) convention is taking place. The unexpected guest of honor? The Corninthian, who may’ve brought Jed along with him.

 

Into the Night” (issue 15): Rose Walker, still a vortex, returns to the Florida boarding house, further troubling the dreams of her housemates (Hal, “Spider Women” Chantal and Zelda, and Ken and Barbie─Gilbert disappeared after the dissolution of the Cereal Growers convention). Morpheus pulls Rose into the Dreamworld, saving her housemates. Gilbert and Matthew the blackbird talk.


Lost Hearts” (issue 16): Morpheus reveals to Rose her anomalous nature and unintended effect as well as her fate. Gilbert, one of the missing entities, returns to Morpheus. In England, Unity Kinkaid dies of old age, altering what is to happen.

Six months pass. Rose writes in her journal, mentions her friend, Judy, who died a year prior─Judy was one of the diner customers shown in “24 Hours” (issue 6, collected in Preludes and Nocturnes). Morpheus visits Desire, confronts her/him/they about the impetuous godling’s previously secret act of treachery, connected to Unity Kinkaid’s coma pregnancy (in Preludes and Nocturnes).