Jul 22, 2009

The Absolute Sandman, Volume 1 Review

I just finished the six hundred page, epic collection of Vertigo Comics' The Sandman, collectively titled Absolute Sandman, Volume 1. In order to eradicate the preconceived notion of "comic book" and "hero", let me first state what this comic does not have.

image from Amazon

It does not have chiseled physiques packed into tight spandex. It does not have a strong, well-defined moral code to adhere to justice, and good deeds.

This is our "hero" if we were to call him that. He goes by many names - Dream, Morpheus, Oneiros, The Sandman, and many more. He's basically a God. God of Dreams to be exact. He's pale, tall, and G'd up from the feet up, only the G stands for goth instead of gangster. He's pretty much unstoppable and omnipotent, but he's also a mix between vengeful and understanding, depending on the day you catch him on.

Absolute Sandman, Volume 1 consists of twenty issues of the comic book, which contains three different story arcs. So things can kind of jump around a bit in terms of how people act, but it's nothing short of remarkable how disturbing, twisted, and drawing-in the writing is. I'm no art critic, but I know when there's shoddy art work, and you'll find none of it here.

MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD! PREMISE FOR EACH STORY ARC!!

I don't typically give away the "how's" the "why's" or anything like that in my spoilers, just things that you'd likely pick up if you were watching a movie trailer. The first story arc is known as "Preludes and Nocturnes" and starts with Dream being kidnapped by a cult from his dream world, who were actually trying to capture Death. Dream patiently waits years upon years before making his big prison break and exacting his revenge, but things aren't over just from taking his vengeance. He had artifacts that made him more powerful that he was stripped of when dragged to the mortal world. Dream travels from location to location to obtain these artifacts, and I must say, issue #6 is by far the sickest I've ever seen. Everyone should read #6 if nothing else.

The second story arc is titled The Doll's House, which is basically one big acid trip. A young teenage girl named Rose Walker is the bridge between the fragile dream world and the mortal world of the living, known as a "vortex". Tracking down Rose Walker becomes Dream's primary mission.

The third story arc is a collection of one-off side-stories that have no real continuity to them. This arc is titled "Dream Country" and consist of the kidnapping of a Muse (like mythological nymph), dreaming cats who want to rule the world, William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the final issue of the book not featuring Dream at all, but his sister Death, who's an equally amazing character to read.


Overall: I'm not going to pretend that this book isn't expensive. Even the used copies on Amazon are pretty pricey as far as comic books go, but if you're really looking for your muse, something to inspire you when reading, check this out. Go out and buy a few single issues first if you want to test the waters, but you won't be disappointed. This is nothing short of an epic series.

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