Saturday, May 16, 2020

The Sandman Universe #1 (2018) Review

Danny Says

By Simon Spurrier, Nalo Hopkinson, Kat Howard, Dan Watters, Bilquis Evely, Dominike “Domo” Stanton, Tom Fowler, Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara, Mat Lopes
Cover Price: $4.99 
On Sale Date: August 8, 2018

Hey, it’s the return of Vertigo, the DC Comics imprint that never left! Supposedly, this issue heralds some kind of revitalization that begins next month and includes…a whole bunch of new titles I forgot. And, a bunch of new titles for the Sandman Universe! I think this is going to be the first taste of all that, and I’m excited to give it a lick. So follow my slobber and read my review of The Sandman Universe #1, slick with saliva!

Explain It!

I initially disregarded Neil Gaiman’s Sandman in the 1990s as “goth shit.” Not to mention I was also a high schooler, interested much more in being “cool” than reading good comics…or any comics, for a time there. I revisited the series around the turn of this century, and absolutely loved it—for its brilliance, for its careful construction, and for its well-populated universe that implied much more than it could ever tell. I consumed many of Sandman’s extra series, and kept up with the prequel Sandman: Overture that came out a few years back. So I am therefore interested in what the forthcoming “Sandman Universe” titles will hold, and especially interested in what the issue I am reviewing has for the nail-biting fans.

There’s no real point in spoiling this issue, since it will be largely meaningless if you aren’t intimately familiar with the trappings of Sandman. If you are familiar, then you will see many of your favorite characters back where we left them: Lucien is tidying up the library, Matthew is still the gofer between the world of Dreaming and the waking world. Tim Hunter is still being jerked around by magicians. And various gods and goddesses still make themselves nuisances to the human world. There are a few new characters, most notably Dora, a horned woman without memories that can traipse through the Dreaming like it’s no big thing—and eat everyone’s dream food, besides. But the best thing about this issue is how familiar it feels to long-time fans.

Particularly breathtaking are the visuals, handled by some of the most talented artists in the industry, tied together by the wonderful Bilquis Evely. Despite the different creative teams, the story reads fairly seamlessly, almost as if they all spoke to one another in order to make a cohesive, coherent product. There are terrific splash pages depicting all manner of spooky magic stuff and dreamworld shenanigans. If this is the level of quality we can expect from the Sandman Universe this Fall, then I dare say you can purchase with confidence since it all looks great and reads very well.

With that one caveat, again, that you should be familiar with Sandman before jumping into this issue. It’s not a cruel ask, mind you: the series is amazing and should be enjoyed by all comics enthusiasts. But the story here is that Daniel has left the Dreaming, which has been fractured, and cannot be found to offer assistance. If that sentence makes absolutely no sense to you, then you really need to read the previously-published stuff before diving into this.

Bits and Pieces:

A lavishly-produced, intriguing issue that will be meaningless to folks that are new to Sandman and its trappings. Those who have read the series will love this issue, it's like going home to visit your spooky, monstrous relatives. Visually, this thing is a stunner, and well worth the cover price--again, if you are already familiar with the characters and settings.



  1. My favorite quote here is: "almost as if they all spoke to one another in order to make a cohesive, coherent product". God forbid creative teams coordinate. I'm optimistic that Neil Gaiman won't let his name be associated with garbage stories. I was definitely happy reading the Sandman Universe #1 and agree that you have to read the original to have any clue what's going on. I started re-reading the series in preparation for this, but didn't finish in time. I'm going to continue because this seems like it's going to draw heavily from the original.

    1. For sure...there's a month until the first issue, so hurry up!