Content Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Sandman comics.
The highly-anticipated release of Netflix’s The Sandman is just around the corner and fans of the comics are likely reading their favorite Sandman issues before they’re depicted on the show. Based on the trailer, there are some storylines that will surely be explored by the series, which include Doctor Destiny’s iconic visit to a diner.
The most memorable storylines from the comics often include fan-favorite characters like Death and Hob Gadling, while others are just well-written standalone narratives like the cats that dream and the Caliph of Baghdad’s wish. As fans wait to see which of these events will be portrayed in the series, it’s the best time to look back at some of the best storylines from The Sandman comics.
24 Hours (Issue #6) is often considered one of the best comic issues of The Sandman, as it features the legendary DC supervillain, Doctor Destiny. Also known as John Dee, his story starts in the infamous Arkham Asylum where his mother gifts him the stolen Dreamstone. While Dream’s Ruby imbues the character with powers, it also causes the further deterioration of his mind.
His subsequent escape and trip to a local diner has become an iconic story, as it’s a shockingly gruesome and jarring portrayal of the Ruby’s potential and underscores how strong the Lord of Dreams really is. If that’s just one aspect of his ability, readers are wondering what else he’s capable of.
Death is one of the most powerful members of the Endless whose difficult job is highlighted in The Sound Of Her Wings (Issue #8). Her story arc highlights how empathetic, witty, and intelligent she can be despite the macabre nature of her work.
When she brings Dream along to see what she does, they encounter different humans’ reactions to Death’s presence. It’s fascinating to see how she deals with all the heartache and terror that comes with her role. It’s also interesting to see her relationship with Dream develop, all the way to the heartbreaking end.
First introduced in Men Of Good Fortune (Issue #13), Hob Gadling becomes a recurring character with the power of immortality in The Sandman. This is thanks to a fateful meeting back in the 14th century with Dream and Death, who were visiting the waking world.
Hob’s immortality began as an interesting experiment on the siblings’ part, but soon evolved into a genuine friendship between the human and the two members of the Endless. Hob’s unique perspective on the pros and cons of his long life allows him to have thought-provoking conversations with Dream, who meets him every hundred years. The most unforgettable part of his storyline is undoubtedly his last exchange with Death where he contemplates what it means to be ready to depart.
Part of the tedious tasks Dream has to finish after his escape from the mortals is to gather his nightmares, which include the first Corinthian. In Collectors (Issue #14), the guest of honor at the serial killer convention is revealed to be one of Dream’s creations. The creepy character has teeth for eyes and enjoys tormenting his victims before eating their eyeballs.
His storyline is remarkable because echoes of his existence persist within the new Corinthian that Dream eventually builds. The Corinthian’s arc helps explain the importance and role of nightmares in the waking world and in Dream’s realm.
The storyline that inspired the Lucifer series needs no introduction. Dream pays the fallen angel a visit in A Hope In Hell (Issue #4), which shows how vast and horrifying Lucifer’s hell is. Banished by The Presence for his rebellion, Lucifer’s defiance against the Great Plan prompts him to leave his throne behind.
His arc depicts an empty version of hell, with Morpheus left to deal with the key given to him by the Lightbringer. Lucifer’s action results in a power struggle like no other, with Dream forced to make hard decisions in the former ruler’s absence.
The Sandman is known for the way it blends fact and fiction, with William Shakespeare’s storyline being the perfect example of that. The most popular issue that features the playwright is A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Issue #19), which depicts Shakespeare’s titular play being performed in front of the queen of fairies herself, Titania.
It’s just one of several plays he writes as part of his deal with Dream. Morpheus promises the playwright fame even after his death, but Shakespeare questions his decision repeatedly in the comics. The things Shakespeare has to give up for the agreement haunt him throughout his life.
Initially depicted as a side character in The Doll’s House, Barbie takes on a more substantial role in A Game of You, with the first issue being Slaughter On Fifth Avenue (Issue #32). At that point, readers likely know that Barbie’s bizarre dreams of The Land are far from being just her imagination.
What follows is a wild adventure with Barbie’s anthropomorphic animal companions, who do everything they can to protect her from the evil Cuckoo. Iconic characters like Wanda and Thessaly play important roles in the storyline, which is among the most magical in the series. The arc also highlights Dream’s astonishing powers when he unmakes the entire Land.
The series presents its own version of One Thousand and One Nights through Ramadan (Issue #50), where Caliph Haroun Al Raschid summons Dream and offers his beautiful city of Baghdad. The Caliph is afraid of one day watching the city of wonder crumble and fall, but he knows the Lord of Dreams has the ability to preserve it forever.
The storyline emphasizes the consequences of the bargain, with Dream’s cunning offer leaving the Caliph with only a faint memory of what the city used to be. It’s an amusing take on the classic tale, especially considering the flawless and apt art style used for that narrative.
The three goddesses that are central figures in Issue #69 are also known as The Three, The Kindly Ones, and The Furies (which is a name they detest). The vengeful entity’s storyline is rooted in their need for revenge against anyone who violates divine law, which Morpheus unfortunately does by taking his own son’s life.
Their narrative marks the beginning of the end for the Lord of Dreams, who is left defenseless against The Kindly Ones after he temporarily leaves the Dreaming vulnerable. They’re relentless in their pursuit and Morpheus knows that there’s only one way out, which, according to Death, is what he wanted all along. It’s a harrowing arc that brings the main storyline’s events to a head.
Dream was doomed to die from the start, which his brother Destiny knew. In Which Occurs In The Wake (Issue #70), Destiny and Dream’s other siblings gather to begin the mourning process, which involves having to mold a being to navigate the tunnels leading to a secret room.
The striking part of the storyline shows a perspective that emphasizes how different the Endless are from regular humans. Seen from the window of a tavern, the Endless are towering figures whose grief can be felt across time and space. The wake itself is a fascinating display of the siblings’ personalities and personal feelings about Dream.
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