FROM THE PUBLISHER: His skin, marked by malignant magics. His spirit, eclipsed. His mind, crushed. Even the Lord of Dreams is powerless against the storm of lost love. When an Endless heart breaks, the world breaks with it…
The Dreaming is one of four spin-off series from the rebooted line of Sandman Comics celebrating the 30th anniversary of the launch of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. This rebooted series follows the events set-up in the one-shot “The Sandman Universe” where Dream has gone missing from his realm “The Dreaming”, the space where people touch when they dream and the realm is falling apart in his absence. Lucian, the librarian of the Dreaming and now steward in Dream’s absence, is struggling to contain the crumbling realm while initially trying to hide the fact that Dream has left his realm with no trace of where he is or if he will return.
The first six issues followed the story of the unraveling chaos of The Dreaming, including Merv Pumpkinhead, the janitor of The Dreaming, releasing Judge Gallows, a “retired” nightmare previously created by Dream, who forcibly takes over the stewardship of The Dreaming from a increasing forgetful Lucian. This leads to the Judge justifying his fascist take-over of the realm saying that they are being invaded by foreigners (blanks seemingly made out of the stuff of the Dreaming) and that violence is the key to order and saving the realm of Dreams. This, possibly a thinly-veiled analogy to some current political circumstances in our realm, doesn’t go well for those who thought making decisions from fear would be a good idea. All the while, a creature named Dora, who was promised to be healed by Dream and who thinks he has forgotten about his promise, has the ability to go through barriers that others cannot, and has been fighting a battle of her own. At the same time, a new Endless is seemingly being born in Dream’s absence.
Lucian convinces Dora to help him try to find Dream in other realms but at one point, cannot bring Lucian back to the Dreaming which causes him to fall into our world. This is where Issue 7 & 8, a two part story called “Love” pick up.
This story in our world is a dramatic shift in the style of the series as the illustrator changes from Bilquis Evely (who illustrated the Sandman Universe #1 one-shot and the first six issues of The Dreaming) to Abigail Larson. Along with the change in illustrator comes a shift in the story. We read of what has been happening in our world with Dream while he has been gone and what possibly is causing the chaos and unraveling in the Dreaming. It tells the story of Rose, an immortal who’s mother is dying of cancer at the same time her daughter, Ivy, has died of an overdose after breaking up with Dream in his human form. Most of the two issue story arc is told through flashbacks as Rose tells Lucian, whom she found on the beach as Dream and Ivy’s relationship crumbled. Lucian is in the same hospital as Rose’s mother and Ivy and she senses that Lucian is related to all the strange happenings in the world during and after Ivy and Dream’s relationship. She tells how Ivy was used by a group to poison Dream which seems to be cause of all what is happening in The Dreaming.
I did not enjoy these last two issues in the same way I enjoyed the first six. The change in illustrator’s style was abrupt and not an improvement. Bilquis Evely’s style is so stunningly detailed, reading these comics on the computer is the way to go as it allows you to zoom in to consume all the details and texture of the visuals. Abigail Larson’s work, on the other hand, feels like a first draft sketch. I am a fan of minimalism but these last two issues did not achieve more with less. The story-telling itself was basically a two-issue arc of exposition, framed with a melodramatic love story. Given all that has been happening the the first six-issues, it feels like down-shifting from 5th to 2nd gear. It might be that the change in visual style is to highlight the difference between The Dreaming and the waking world but I have not enjoyed the change. I am hoping that Evely returns to the series for future issues. While I think important info was shared in this two-issue arc, I found myself hurrying though these last two issues quickly.
I would rate issues 7 & 8 a Go!
I would rate the series as Let’s Go!