The Sandman Universe #1

Story: Neil Gaiman
Writers: Dan Watters, Kat Howard, Nalo Hopkinson, Simon Spurrier
Artists: Sebastian Fiumara, Max Fiumara, Tom Fowler, Domonike Stanton, Bilquis Evely
Colorist: Mat Lopes
Publisher: DC Vertigo

Review by Michael Farris, Jr.

The Sandman Universe #1 opens with a crack appearing in the Dreaming, and all the residents are experiencing strange phenomena. Daniel, the Lord of Dreams, has gone missing from his kingdom, so it’s up to Matthew the raven to get to the waking world to find him and get him back to repair the Dreaming. Along the way, Matthew encounters old friends and new as we get set up for the expanded Sandman Universe.

When the Sandman Universe line was announced, I was thrilled. I try to have an annual re-reading of the original Sandman run, and when I heard there were going to be more stories that explored the world of Dreaming, I was ready to hop on board and have my mind blown by new adventures. But there was a small inkling of doubt that crept into my mind…what if it sucks?

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a continuing Sandman series, and oftentimes, when we return to something that ended on a good note, it lacks the spirit of the original and is not as satisfying. So, if you’re reading this review, I’m sure the first question on your mind is: does it live up to the original Sandman stories?

The answer to that question is…YES! Everything about this one-shot lives up to the original with the depth of imagination, emotional impact, weirdness, horror, humor, and everything else we were so blessed to have in Gaiman’s Sandman universe.

I found the narrative particularly clever in the way that we follow Matthew along his journey to find Daniel in order to set up the other ongoing series that will make up the Sandman Universe. We are reintroduced to Lucien the librarian, Merv Pumpkinhead, Cain, and Abel, and we also meet a sometimes nice and sometimes nightmarish Dora, who hops around into other people’s dreams to learn about their lives and eat their food. We catch up with Tim Hunter from the Books of Magic. We see that Lucifer is up to his old nefarious ways. We meet the voodoo deity Erzulie who seems particularly interested in a woman named Latoya and her loved ones. And then Matthew finds something out about Daniel that really sets the course of events to come.

All of the individual stories woven together by Matthew’s journey are enthralling, and they all but guarantee that I will be reading each series as it comes out. I found the story of Dora particularly intriguing in that she’s comfortable dream-hopping, she can feel the emotions of the dreamers, and has a dark secret that pops out when she gets angry. Oh, and she really doesn’t like Dream.

With the slew of different artists involved in this project, the art still presents the weird, twisted, dark, and inspired world that we’ve all come to know and love. If you’re not careful, you’ll get lost wandering throughout Dreaming and the waking world, but then again, that’s half the fun of reading a Sandman comic. Also, it appears that David Bowie will live on through Lucifer.

Verdict: Buy it.

It doesn’t take a raven knowing things for you to be getting The Sandman Universe #1 as soon as you can. The return to Sandman is like coming back to an old, familiar dream and finding it just as wonderful and magical as you remembered it to be.

Michael Farris Jr.
Michael is a Virginia-born Idaho convert (stuck in Georgia) and a huge fan of sci-fi. He took time off from comics and sci-fi during the dark years of being a teenager and trying to impress girls, but has since married an amazing woman with whom he regularly can geek out and be himself. He's also a drummer, loves metal music, and can always be found in a melancholy state while watching all things DC sports.