We're back in the world of dreams.
I am not a die-hard Sandman fan I’ve only read the first volume, but when this was announced I was immediately interested and even the first volume is enough to grab your attention, it’s a beautiful comic filled with more imagination that most comics out at the minute by a mile and the prospect of more grabbed my attention and then there’s the fact it’s drawn by J.H Williams. This is a prequel and there is always a lot of stigma towards prequels in comics and prequels in general because there generally a cash in, but this isn’t this is a whole new story that introduces a whole load of new plotlines and while it will eventually lead up to Sandman #1 you don’t get a proper idea of how that is going to happen yet and you just are pulled into this fantastical world again, but you begin to see a plot emerging although parts of it aren’t clear yet. I would like to say that this issue is overpriced, the quality is outstanding, but it’s only four pages extra (foldout) and it’s an extra pound (I’m English), it’s worth it in terms of quality, but I still feel a bit miffed about the higher price tag.
Sandman was always famed for breaking boundaries and trying something new to convey the story and in the first sequence it does something rather interesting. Morpheus has many forms which is a definite theme to this issue and in the opening there is the flower version of Morpheus as seen by a plant character called Quorian. It’s a beautiful way of presenting Morpheus as a plant it looks like him you can tell who he is, but then it doesn’t look like the human Morpheus, I think a lot of credit has to go to Williams for the design, but I love Gaiman putting it in anyway as it is an incredibly weird and abstract idea that fits Sandman very well. The scene also presents a very interesting way to start the series and it starts with a bang for sure as well as a real mystery, as well. The first page as well I would just add is very word, but just about the most illiterate description of a planet I’ve ever read, so beautifully done.
I am not familiar with the character known as the “Corinthian” I have not go to that volume yet, so this was my first encounter with the character. I think he pretty much steals most of the scenes he is in, the air of mystery he has around him and also the fact he has Teeth for eyes which is one of the creepiest ideas I’ve read in comics for a while. I particularly liked how his dialogue would come from his mouths as well and how it jumped between them, it’s a clever idea and I think the letterer Todd Klein really, is the best in the industry especially with other things he does in this issue. This issue would also see the return for two of the endless other than Morpheus which were Destiny and Death. Death is her usual chirpy self even though she has the grimmest job in all of existence, although slightly grimmer than what she has been like. Destiny would also make an appearance in this issue and I am not familiar with him, but he’s an interesting character and I love how he embodies what he represents same as all the Endless, but Destiny being tethered to his book which tells the story is a very good representation of Destiny. This issue loud also see a few cameos from famous Sandman characters like Lucien the librarian and Mervyn Pumpkinhead, Lucien I am familiar with Mervyn I am not and I liked both of their brief appearances.
The plot of the story only develops towards the end and it remains a mystery mostly as this issue really just re-establishes some of the characters and a few plotlines it will have going forward like with the Corinthian, it doesn’t necessarily at first feel like a Morpheus book even it’s only until part way through that the version we know and love appears. Although I think that’s part of what Gaiman has done Morpheus’s world was just, possibly even more interesting than the character himself, so returning to that is a very smart move, but I feel as if the book’s a little on the slow side in the middle of the book, but it’s 25 years since this world last appeared and I think a bit of setup is worth it and it’s incredibly engaging anyway and who doesn’t want to see more of the Endless? And other characters. The story; however, does look to be very interesting and the four page foldout at the end is suitably glorious.
So you thought J.H Williams III was good? If you’ve seen any of his work you’ll know it’s pretty much above most comic book artwork, by a country mile, Batwoman is a prime example of that. Yet J.H Williams III does it again and may have just produced the best looking comic of the year. The opening sequence of the issue has a lot of style to it, but it’s also very, very beautiful and the flower version of Morpheus is just beautiful and you can tell it is him even when it doesn’t have any human look to it. Williams handles all of Morpheus’s many versions very well, because you see a lot in this issue and each one holds some of his many features, whether it may be colours, face, or just general body language, because there are some you may not expect like a robot version. Williams is always well known for extremely wacky page layouts and some of them work in this issue (I slightly question the one framed with Corinthian’s teeth though), but the one with Destiny’s book where the page flows through that is just incredible. I also like Williams uses of different styles as there are some that look quite old fashioned where everything had to be very straight lined and every house had to have lines showing you it’s three dimensions and that looks incredible as well, and there’s a bit of Jack Kirby thrown in there as well in one panel.
I think I’ve talked enough about all aspects of this issue, but it’s a very literate comic that reads almost like poetry at certain points, but it’s certainly very readable for anyone. It takes a while to get its plot going, but you’re pulled into the story regardless and past Sandman fans will love all the characters making an appearance in this story and I think people who haven’t read the series will like this, but I think maybe some research will be required for some of these characters.