Sandman Reread, part 3

When I was a little kid, my favorite superhero was Superman. I saw the Christopher Reeves Superman when I was about five and I believed a man could fly. I have found memories of running around my grandparents’ house with a great uncle who would pick me up in the air and yell, “It’s Superman!” as the cape on my pajamas would flap in the wind.

As I grew older, I started to identify more with Batman. (I, too, have had an emotion. Time to get dark and brood.) But you never forget your first.

However, as the films, TV shows, and comics went on, good Superman stories became rarer and rarer. A common, almost canonized, wisdom has sprung up around the character: “It’s difficult to make good Superman stories because he’s too powerful.”

After reading over 500 pages of comics concerning a character that has powers beyond that of most gods, I can assure you that the reason their are so few good Superman stories has nothing to do with the fact that he can punch dudes really hard.

Finished the first Deluxe Edition of The Sandman today. It’s held up solidly, but I’m not going to pretend that nostalgia isn’t dripping from every page. There’s great care in the storytelling, but I can’t stop myself from getting giddy over each new character introduction because of how great they are going to be.

It also got be thinking how much this series lives and dies on its supporting cast, both to be interesting, and to flesh out the world. For example there’s a character named Hob who sort of just gives up on the whole getting old and dying thing. (Reasonable thing to do, but for some reason I totally forgot about him.) Now that’s a cool character thing but Gaiman uses him to tell us the things in the last five hundred years that are important to not just the story but to Dream as we are given his reactions when Hob talks about what he’s been up to.

Smart constructions like that are one of the reasons I love the series, but it’s also the little details that don’t go too far but are just wonderful like the woman who dreams about having a love affair with a sentence and then forgets how to read. Little moments like that fill my soul.

And all of this is brought to us because of a character who controls dreams to the point where they are dreams, so I’m no longer interested in hearing that there’s a power level ceiling on good stories.

Sandman Reread Begins

Over the last year I’ve been doing a lot of comfort reading for obvious reasons. This has consisted of me rereading a lot of old Vertigo comics, and now I’m left with the one I’ve been putting off: The Sandman.

This is the comic that has made the rounds so much in critical circles that it’s just considered to be Objectively Good. If you have an issue with any part of this book, the error is with you and no blame can be held with the writer, editor, or artists.

That makes it sound like I’m setting up to say I don’t like it. It’s not true; I dearly love this series. However, I got into it in early college at the beginning of my love for comics. (Hence my battered collection of trades, which is NOT depicted above.) There’s really no separating my discovering this series from my having my world-view expanded with the influx of all these new stories.

But I haven’t flipped open a Sandman book in the better part of a decade. I’ve changed a lot in that time and I’m wondering if I’ll still find anything in these pages now.

I’m only two and a half issues in but so far so good; the mystery of the story is still gripping and Gaiman’s relaxed yet highly stylized form of dialogue still makes for enjoyable reading.

The art has also been cleaned up, which for me is a blessing. The first trade of Sandman was one of the first three American comics that I bought, but it took me almost a year to read it because I found the artwork so off putting. Concepts in the art are much less garbled in this reissue even if the pages are a still little more busy than I would like.

Probably will get into a deeper review of the series later. This was just a first impression of what I’m reading right now.