By Decoy Elite 17 Comments
Hello everyone it's Decoy Elite here, bringing you another Character Talk. Our subject was going to be Animal Man but I suddenly started having this reoccurring nightmare where I fell down some stairs, so today's subject is Dream
But first let's have our great commentators introduce themselves.
Morph: I take insult in the notion that any of us requires an introduction.
Fine, I'll take care of it
MostcertainlyMorph: I'm Morpheus_, I talk and italics for no reason and stuff BLUH BLUH
Illum: Hi, *pops bubble* I'm Illuminatus, Master of the Obvious.
Jedi: Hey, JediX here. More serious, the better. A good saying that suits me and Dream.
Aztek: Oh damn, I would've loved to have talked about Animal Man, that's one series I've read that most people haven't (the first series). Now I'm going to be thinking about that this whole time. Oh, and I'm Aztek, if you haven't heard of me, nobody's heard of you either because you're living under a rock. I built ComicVine with my bare hands and toiled under the hot incandescent bulbs of my various dwelling places over the years to ensure it thrives! Also, I love comics. I am also the yin to Morpheus' (the one with the silly underscore) yang because dark always triumphs over light.
[ED: CB never got to introduce himself. He is CitizenBane, a serious user who enjoys debate and The Sandman.]
Q1: What about Dream as a character works?
Illum: Dream works because of three things: his uniqueness, Gaiman's writing, and his appearance. His appearance has always been the most interesting aspect of him. Like many Vertigo titles, the art is beautiful, but not particularly bombastic. It doesn't ever try to reach farther than it needs too, and that adds to the mysticism surrounding the Sandman mythos.
Gaiman's brooding style of dialogue and pacing also adds to the character. Dream is both predictable and unpredictable. Often, youthink you know what he's going to do in certain situations, but instead, he'll do something completely different, or you'll expect him to do the opposite of what you're hoping, but then he does just that. It's complexity without contradictions or cliches.
And of course, his uniqueness as a concept is enough to satisfy anyone. Almost nothing comes to mind that is in anyway similar to the universe that Gaiman created, except for maybe the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. You have to respect what Gaiman accomplished for both the genre, as well as the medium, regardless of your opinions on the novels themselves.
Aztek: Wow, straight to the nitty-gritty. I believe the better question is what doesn't work? I know that's a cop-out answer but it seems a little vague of a question. I think what's the best part about Dream's character is it isn't unwavering and you can see him change over the course of centuries, thus allowing natural character evolution without having to have some sort of retcon or something to explain why he's suddenly different now (like half of The New 52 for example).
Morph: There are a great many things that make him work. To begin with, he is visually striking, cholk white skin, eyes like pools of night with twin stars sparkling within them, not to mention an obvious resemblance to a certain British singer - even his speech pattern is discernably different. Most importantly, it's his complexity, and a testament to Gaiman's craft as a writer, that appeals to me the most. There is a majesty in Dream's timeless nature, and yet he, like the rest of the Endless are human in more ways than they'd care to admit. His development and journey of self-awareness throughout the series is nothing short of amazing.
Illum: Also, I'd like to add that I think Dream's characterization of a withered, pessimistic nearly timeless entity makes you, the reader, learn to see through his faults, and elaborating on what Morph already, see his more human characteristics
Jedi: Dream is an interesting character because of his overall attitude and abilities. What struck me was that he is one of the most powerful beings in the universe, and he doesn't feel the need to prove it. He knows he's powerful and so does everyone else. He's calm and disciplined. But then the moments come where he actually uses his abilities display just how powerful he is, and where he is in the universe. One of my favorite scenes involving Morpheus is when he is chasing down two renegade nightmares in the Doll's House, where he says "I am angry Lucien, and it's my move" as he puts on his helm. Great moment for a great arc.
I also particularly like the concepts and ideas Gaiman puts forth with the Endless. I like Cosmic beings like Ion, Parallax, Galactus, etc. as much as the next guy, but the Endless are so much deeper than simple "near-omnipotent" beings. They simply are. As I mentioned with displays of power, the fact that they all just stand there without doing a thing says so much more than creatures who go around blowing things up. They're better than petty things like that. They are above that. The respect and fear of them shown in other beings says much more.
What makes them all stand out is that they are imperfect. They're... human. They have their faults and their problems. Just because they are powerful doesn't mean they don't have emotions. I love the exchanges Dream has with Death, especially in the Sound of Her Wings, where they are just brother and sister. It can be deep and intriguing as well as, occasionally, amusing and silly.
CB: JXM hit the nail on the head. So many cosmic characters have no personality to speak of, they exist for the sole purpose of being uber-powerful. Not so with the Endless. On one page Destruction talks about all the worlds and spaces he's seen, and on another Delirium talks about how Death once took her to see 101 Dalmations. How can you not love a dichotomy like that? All of the Endless are brilliantly characterized, with Dream being the best since he's the one the story revolves around. He's one of the few nigh-omnipotent characters that practically anyone can relate to, and that's because of how he's characterized. He's a romantic, often moody and content to dwell in gloom, and gradually uncomfortable with his never-ending responsibility that he comes to see as a cage.
Q2: Right, I'm betting most of you are talking mostly about Morpheus(the character, not the guy posting here) do you think Daniel changes Dream much as a character? What do you think about these possible changes?
Illum: I'm not very keen on Daniel Hall as a concept, but I do like his characterization. It's interesting seeing a rookie in such a powerful, domineering role. What Daniel Hall lacks in Morpheus's uncanny ability to state very frightening things in such a dry manner, he more than makes up for in establishing hope within your heart that this character will somehow come too see the light at the end of the proverbial dark tunnel.
Morph: Daniel is simply another point of view. As Daniel himself says when referred to as "Morpheus" by Cain, he has no claim to that name. He doubtlessly shares similarities with Morpheus, but he is quite a bit younger and inexperienced in his part as the Dream King. That provides the character with a softer, purer side that Morpheus may not have lacked entirely, but tried his best to keep hidden, and that makes him unique. I also find it funny and even a little bit ironic how the development feels organic in every respect, while it would had easily been dismissed as "rebooting" or a cop-out in a mainstream superhero comic book.
Aztek: I think Daniel changes Dream quite a bit as a character personally. One of the problems with that however is you never really get a true feeling for Daniel in The Sandman. I know he's appeared some in the DCU but I've never read that stuff. But Daniel is definitely an entirely different creature altogether in my eyes, he doesn't share in what me and Morpheus experienced together in the course of the series and while he claims they are the same, he is still aloof from Morpheus in that they would react differently to the same situations. I'm like Matthew, hesitant of this fellow that claims to be my best friend but doesn't really seem like him at all. If the series had followed Daniel in the same situations as Morpheus, I'm not sure it would have been as powerful, to me at least. Would the story even have gone anywhere?
Daniel gets captured for seventy years and then he does what? Forgives? I think Daniel, while naive in ways, seems too perfect and innocent, he never seemed like a flawed character to me and it was like he had all his sh!t together already, and it was watching Dream change that made the character so meaningful to me.
CB: Daniel shares the......feel, let's call it, of his predecessor. He has that same air of ethereality, that air you need to pull off a name like Dream of the Endless. But at the same time, he's different at his core. He was a child before he became one of the Endless, and accordingly you can see how his actions and view of the world are kinder than Morpheus'. In Endless Nights, a star remarked that Morpheus had a reputation for being terrible in his wrath, that Death was kinder than he was. You can't say that of Daniel. I'm reminded of his appearance in the third volume of JLA, where he decided to help the League because he took pity on a child whose cries for help he heard in the Dreaming. His reason for appearing in that arc was silly; you don't need one of the Endless to take down Starro. But his characterization was more or less intact, and I was thankful for that.
Jedi: I think Daniel is a softer, kinder Dream, as shown when he was petting his Guardian Hippogriff, something Morpheus never did. He was forgiving to his mother for what she had done. He doesn't seem to remember everything Morpheus did; he didn't know that Morpheus never pet the Hippogriff.
The change in personality makes me want to get to know the original Despair better as well as Delight (though in this case, Delight and Delirium are the same). We've seen hints at them, but it hasn't been delved into enough, in my opinion.
Q3: What was your favorite part about Dream's interactions with his siblings?
Illum: His interactions with his siblings were fascinating and disheartening. It gives you a sense of how annoyed Morhpeus is with some of them, whereas others (such as Destiny and Death) he respects outright and would never dare defy them or directly challenge them for long.
Having them interact as a dysfunctional family was, and still is, a stroke of literary genius by Gaiman. Again, this is another concept that has never been truly attempted before-having a family of nearly all powerful beings have minor squabbles between themselves that are almost identical to those of petty mortals such as you and I. Again, it bring up the ideas that the Endless are truly human at their core, trying to pretend that they're beyond that sort of thing. It's always been intriguing and I'm thankful it was handled almost perfectly.
Morph: Morpheus grabbing Desire by the hair at the finale of a Doll's House and scaring it sh!tless.
In truth, I think it's very difficult for anyone not to acknowledge the relationship between Dream and Death, which is something Gaiman himself has acknowledged as a pivotal part of the series - it is why he decided to use Death scarcely - he knew he had something special with her. It is one of the indisputable highlights of the series. The fact that Death (and later on Destruction) are relatable and multifaceted characters themselves that have been developed significantly in their own right makes the interactions all the more well suited.
Aztek: Oh my gosh, where do I start? I absolutely loved the relationship he and Delirium developed near the end of their lives (as Morpheus and Delirium respectively) and it's why Brief Lives is one of my favorite story arcs of all time. Coming from something of a large, dysfunctional family myself I find the family as a whole to be a wondrous concept and I can relate both to Delirium's fear of an older brother as well as Dream's mistreatment of a younger sister. I like how the family interacts as a whole, and I think they do well to demonstrate how an actual large family operates (in my experience at least) but the power each of them wields and represents just makes the impact of every little familial matter seem that much larger and more pronounced. Brief Lives also gets into the other family member's relationships as well and I feel like all these things have occurred in some form in my own life. Destruction's little sisters looking up to him and he leaving them, the two siblings that due to age find themselves closest, the aloof eldest who can still get a stern talking to by the youngest (even if it hurts her). And of course, I love he and Death's relationship. I tear up every-time I read their last conversation (their first is nothing to sneeze at either as previously mentioned).
Jedi: The Endless family is actually really interesting. Dream seems to regard Death higher than the others; while he respects Destiny, he seems to care for Death and actually regards her as his confidant. What's very intriguing is that Desire used to be his favorite sister, but after her betrayal regarding Sto-oa and Killala, he started to hate her and she continued to screw around with him. He has little patience for Delirium's childlike, unprofessional attitude, but also appears to care a bit about her, especially toward the end of the Brief Lives. His interactions with Despair are rather sparse. I think he partially feels guilty about Destruction, but I think he hides it.
CB: Where do I begin? The one relationship between the Endless that was always great to read was the one between Death and Dream; she was the one who talked him out (or yelled him out) of feeling sorry for himself after he returned to his realm, and you can see that she's concerned for his well-being. I think she was the only one of the family that Dream considered an equal. His interactions with Destiny and Despair were limited, and he respected Destruction for his maturity and wisdom. He and Desire shared a deep dislike for one another that bordered on hate, and his relationship with Delirium gradually improved during the Brief Lives arc. My favorite moment featuring Dream and one of his siblings would be the time from Sandman #8, when Death got so frustrated with Dream's doom-and-gloom attitude that she threw a loaf of bread at him.
Q4: Do you think any other writers could handle a character like Dream?
Illum: No, I do not believe any writer should tackle Dream as a character within the same medium except for Gaiman. I would only buy the book if Gaiman himself gave the writer a massive blessing, which I do not see happening any time soon.
Jedi: Can they? I don't know. I feel like it would seem out of place for anyone other than Gaiman to write the Endless. He does such a good job with him that I would be afraid to see someone else take them on.
Morph: I don't think the Endless in general, or Dream in particular could only ever be handled well by a single writer. It's perfectly reasonable that someone would be able to put them to good use. That being said, you don't touch Casablanca because some new screenwriter could potentially improve the work of the Epstein brothers and put a new spin to Rick Blaine. So I'd preferably wish for DC to leave Dream alone - which they have done for the most part, Morrison's JLA being a notable exception - as long as Gaiman is not involved in the project directly.
Aztek: Sure I do, in fact I think many writers should be able to handle him, it's not like he's Neil Gaiman incarnate. Gaiman applies personalities to gods or ideas but for all their uniqueness, the character's still come from common pre-existing ideas and dreams, well those are primordial. And if we're talking about Daniel, well, he's still very much open to development so anyone should be allowed in theory to take control of him. I think I'd be offended by the idea of someone besides Gaiman writing Dream but just from the political side of it, I believe many writers could write a great story with the character, I just couldn't name a specific one that seems like the perfect match off the top of my head.
CB: As much as I would love to read more Sandman, I'd rather not see the characters subjected to mediocre writing. Gaiman's one of the precious few who could handle the material, I can't think of many more. Maybe Mike Carey, after what he did with Lucifer and Hellblazer
Q5: Do you think Dream(either one) would integrate well into the DCnU? If so would you like to see him there?
Illum: I think almost any character could be integrated well into the DCnU, but I would hate to see Dream make a presence that was above small. We should be told at some point that the "Endless are out there"--so that we have something to familiarize with--but I would hate too see the character rebooted and given two makeovers: appearance and personality. I would probably burn my collection of DC Comics if they did that..
Jedi: I think the Endless appearing in the DCU wouldn't be particularly bad. I like the idea of them being an unseen presence in the background. That also goes back to A4, but done sparingly and not in a full series, I might be able to handle it. Keep in mind that I haven't gotten to Dream's appearance in the JLA series yet (I'm working on it)
Morph: No, I really think he would seem out of place. I tried the Justice League Dark series and while it is definitely serviceable, it lacks the punch a Vertigo title with all its established continuity would have. When I read Constantine there, it feels like someone is doing an impersonation of him rather than reading the real deal, and I feel it would be similar in case Morpheus was to appear in some rebooted fashion in the DCnU. Not to mention there's a good chance someone would think it'd be a bright idea for Dream to get the Liefeld shoulderpads treatment.
CB: I would not mind seeing some of the Endless appear in Vertigo-themed books of the DCnU like Justice League Dark or something like that. But the writing in that title has only been adequate so far, and I would prefer that something like that be written by someonereally good. If that can't happen, don't do it all.
Although I would pay to see an issue dedicated to the Joker and Delirium. Something tells me they would get along fabulously.
Aztek: No. Absolutely not. For one thing, the character would be backstage most of the time rather then in the spotlight and I don't think Dream should be a mere background character, it's a disservice to his development. And if he were to be a protagonist, he would stray too far from the rest of the DCnU that inevitably it would follow the course of The Sandman and begin with some superheroes and drift into a random batch of characters that wouldn't really mesh well in a world of capes and tights. I would sooner see Daniel in the DCnU then Morpheus but again, I just don't think it would work. Dream's job isn't to save people getting mugged or stop super-villains...it just doesn't seem like it would work to me.
Dream's job isn't to save people getting mugged
LMAO. The mental image of him doing so is simply irresistible.
Aztek: You know now I'm just picturing it in my mind and I can't help but laugh, I can see Batman trying to train him on patrolling the streets of Gotham and him not sure why he should be intervening and accidentally letting the mugger get away to Bats' frustration :P
Illum: "Now, Dream, this is how you throw a Batarang.."
"But why would I throw a Batarang? I can just pinpoint your entire rogues gallery and make their heads explo--"
"I AM THE NIGHT. I AM VENGEANCE. I AM THE GODDAMNED BATMAN. YOU'RE SO DENSE, DREAM."
Well goodbye everyone, enjoy arguing if Batman could beat Dream with prep. (He couldn't. ;) )