“What power would hell have if those imprisoned here would not be able to dream of heaven?”
— Neil Gaiman, The Sandman (Volume 1) Preludes & Nocturnes
This definitely showcases the broadness of Neil Gaiman’s imagination. It’s boundless, colourful, enigmatic and complex. It’s simply impossible to reproduce, and infinitely beautiful. I do want to be that guy who raves and raves about this first volume of The Sandman, but then I wouldn’t be honest with myself. Preludes & Nocturnes introduces readers to Morpheus, Lord of Dreams, and transports us on an intimate journey alongside this mythical and mysterious being as he explores worlds like none other. The story is ignites when an occultist attempts an uncalled-for ceremony in the dishonest and mischievous intention of capturing Death, and then to bargain for eternal life. It is by accidentally capturing Death’s younger brother Dream that things go haywire and leaves Dream imprisoned for over 70 years. Being captured and stripped of his powers for countless decades, you can only imagine what his desire for revenge drives him to do as soon as he finds himself free of his predicament. Driven to recover his precious belongings that behold his powers, The Sandman (Volume 1) Preludes & Nocturnes brings fans to explore dream lands and hellish landscapes in all of its glory.
One of the coolest things about The Sandman series is that it is set in the DC Universe—at least the very issues or volumes—and manages to skillfully connect its storyline with other famous characters who will easily fascinate and become fan-favourites for countless readers. From John Constantine to Lucifer, there isn’t a chapter within this story that doesn’t somehow manage to explore these characters and their interaction with the Lord of Dreams in a unique fashion. I did however feel like the story would drift to various different places and sub-plots in a slightly slippery and unstable way. While it contributes to the overall theme of dreams and their intangible and nebulous traits, it does make this first volume a bit of a challenge to truly appreciate its scope. The original and ambitious narrative vision of Neil Gaiman in The Sandman isn’t something that can be smoothly ingested and appreciated at first. It can sometimes feel all over the place, yet still remain coherent and character-driven. If anything, I felt like Preludes & Nocturnes was a quick glimpse inside a galactic jar of ideas. I felt like it was only a small taste of the finer things to come. Maybe not easy food to eat, but definitely a luscious and required meal for the food enthusiast.
My favourite part of this story is the introduction of Death. This is one character I’m going to want to see more of. Not only was it unexpected, it was also cleverly thought out. The way that character used their powers and perpetuated the death cycle and all its tragedy was just pure genius. The chemistry between both Death and Dream was also adorable. While that chapter brought a new character into the game, it also reminded readers of how this whole volume was a journey with Dream and a close look at all the troubles that he has been through. It showed us why he is the Lord of Dreams and how he feels conflicted after such an insane amount of time disconnected from the world. The Sandman (Volume 1) Preludes & Nocturnes illustrated the transformation of Dream and how his purpose in life was larger than life itself. Neil Gaiman’s lyrical writing style only helped convey this story with more perfection as it helped heighten the mythology and godliness of this story. By the end of this volume, you’ll know that Morpheus is not someone you want to mess with.
While Preludes & Nocturnes wasn’t a perfect volume for me, it still remains a classic in the world of comics. Neil Gaiman’s passion and love oozes through the pages of this volume and you just can’t help but see that The Sandman is a divine creation. His ideas are huge and vibrant, and only through a comic medium was he able to find the right creative team to make this story come to life. While the artwork, illustrated by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III, might take some getting used to, you’ll quickly adapt to its vibrant, twisted and supernatural style. Upon completing this volume, I can say with confidence that the design and overall artwork was just so fitting to the mythological, fairy-tale and folklore narrative blend. This is something to be experienced for yourself. It would be a mistake to drop this series after Preludes & Nocturnes as it is clear that there’s so much more that Neil Gaiman is trying to convey within this comic. I believe that you’ll need to read a couple more volumes to be able to truly understand why this series receives so much praise among fans. And that’s exactly what I plan on doing.
Did you read The Sandman (Volume 1) Preludes & Nocturnes yet? What did you think about it?
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆/