(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.)
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.