Okay, I now get it. Gaiman's good! Quite the start to the Sandman
series. My favorite scene is the face-off between Choronzon and Dream in Hell:
"I am anti-life, the beast of judgement. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, Gods, worlds... of everything. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?"
"I am hope."
Prior to that moment, I'd seen Dream primarily as an angry god bent on vengeance. Then hope rears its beautiful head, becoming part of his increasingly complex character.
Another favorite scene is the tongue lashing given Dream by his sister (and fellow Endless) Death:
"You are utterly the stupidest, most self-centered, appallingest excuse for an anthropomorphic personification on this or any other plane! An infantile, adolescent, pathetic specimen!"
What kind of god takes this type of abuse? A vulnerable, imperfect one. Looks like the constantly-squabbling Greek gods are back in business.
Far and away, my favorite story in this first collection is The Sound of Her Wings
. The drawings where siblings Death and Dream sit next to one another resemble Joan Jett and The Cure's Robert Smith having a mope together. I enjoyed Gaiman's take that Death, rather than something to be feared, is like "going forth into a garden after sickness" or "the home that a man longs to see, after years spent as a captive." It's dreams, not death, that make no promises, that can scare the bejeezus out of you. It's a thought-provoker.24 Hours
is another notable story from the collection. It'll make skin crawl and stomachs turn. Think Gaiman channeling Clive Barker. Dream hardly makes an appearance in this one. It's all demented Doctor Dee and a host of bit players doomed to grisly ends. A decent story, but toward the bottom of the pile for me.
My only real complaint? The appearance of Justice League superheroes. Unnecessary! The Sandman
universe doesn't need Batman or the Last Martian. It felt a bit like product placement to me. Otherwise, I'm a happy reader!