Saturday, May 16, 2020

The Dreaming #1 (2018) Review

While the Dream Lord’s Away

Written By: Simon Spurrier 
Illustrated By: Bilquis Evely 
Colors By: Mat Lopes 
Letters By: Simon Bowland 
Cover Price: $3.99 
On Sale Date: September 5, 2018

What th’…? A Vertigo book being reviewed on the Weird Science DC Comics Dot Com website? On a Wednesday?! That’s right, by request, Chris Sheehan and myself will be covering the Neil Gaiman-curated “Sandman imprint,” on the website and podcast, much in the same way we did Young Animal. I’m a big fan of Gaiman’s Sandman, so I’ve been looking forward to this series, The Dreaming, in particular. And what do you know, I’ve reviewed the first issue right here!

Explain It!

As I mentioned in my review for The Sandman Universe #1, which was a sampler for this new imprint, you’ve really got to know what’s up with what came before to appreciate this new direction…I think. You see, I’m not exactly sure. I did read Sandman, and Books of Magic, and Lucifer, so I can never be an uninitiated, new reader of the material. From my perspective, it all seems very steeped in the lore that preceded it. But it might also be perfectly understandable to fresh eyes. I’d love to hear what such a person thinks of this, either down in the comments or otherwise through Weird Science DC Comics. So, since we left things in Sandman Universe #1, things have gotten better for the Dreaming. Lucius is having increased problems with his memory, and the crack in the world has gotten larger, now issuing featureless “blank” people. Mervyn tries to corral them as best as possible, but some of them slip past and wind up congregating and hanging around. It really creeps up a place that was already known for its extreme creepiness.

One person not creeped out by these Blanks is Cora, the woman/beast with winged ears that we saw dream-hopping and eating dream food last time. She wakes up—another thing she shouldn’t be able to do, sleep while in the Dreaming—and says hello to her personal Blank, Ziggy, who waits for her to command him. Cora’s famished, so she heads into some dreams to steal some fake food, and this gets the attention of Matthew the Raven. He heads towards Dora to stop her, but she whaps him aside to keep another appointment: to screw Balam, the Duke of Hell!

And not just screw him, but also to barter for some magical God fruit that Dora eats in one bit. While in her crabby afterglow, she opens a portal back to the Dreaming, and Balam finds he can cross over—which he shouldn’t be able to, on account of Hell is always trying to usurp the world of Dream. And so, he launches an all-out offense at the main castle, thwarted only by the appearance of Dream himself! Turns out later that it was Lucius wearing the helm, but it did the trick. And now, Lucius thinks it might be time for a new member of the Endless to be born and lord over the world of the Dreaming. Because he ain’t doing it, no siree!

This issue could continue straight on from Sandman #75, as far as I’m concerned, without missing a beat. The look of the thing is perfect, evoking a similar (though not the same) style as Charles Vess and Sam Kieth and them. The coloring does a lot of the work to give this comic the proper “feel” for a story about the panicked denizens of Dream. As much as I enjoy seeing familiar characters come back, I think I really like Cora, who is a beguiling character that I cannot wait to learn more about. I didn’t even mention all the threads loosened and names dropped for future tales, which I’m sure are already slated for their timely fruition. This is a great comic, my only misgiving would be that it might not be accessible to readers that are unfamiliar with this world and its trappings. I may be wrong about this, though! Feel free to write in and let me know.

Bits and Pieces:

A perfect companion and continuation of the original Sandman series, this issue establishes some new characters and concepts that blend seamlessly with the Dreaming that we already know. The rendering and storytelling are great, but it's the coloring that strikes the exact mood for such a strange book. I would call that mood "strange."



  1. That first issue was great. I'm really enthusiastic about this series now. I share your concerns that it might be a little inaccessible to new readers, but surely people are smart enough to figure it out, and it's not like the Sandman isn't a worthy series to go back and read as back issues.