The Sandman by Neil Gaiman still ranks as one of the best comic book series ever written, critically, popularly, and artistically. There's been a few revivals of the series and the series' characters over the years, but they've been mediocre at best, with the exception of Mike Carey's Lucifer series. The latest revival, both the comic book and the umbrella imprint within an imprint, gets its kick start in Sandman Universe #1. Unfortunately, as was the case with various other revivals of the franchise, it appears that there will be little involvement of the title character, and for this avid fan of the original series, that's unwelcome news.
In a lengthy afterword,
Neil Gaiman explains that he has more stories to tell as far as the
Sandman Universe of characters is concerned. That's great, but the
characters, with the possible exception of Tim Hunter (of Books of Magic fame)
and the definite exception of Lucifer, really are best suited to
supporting roles. The Corinthian, Lucian, Mervyn, Eve, Matthew The
Raven, etc are just not built to carry a series. Morpheus and his newer
incarnation, Daniel, was a dynamic and interesting character, and the
perfect lead for Gaiman's series. The Dreaming, of which we are about to
experience volume to of, lacked the overarching power and attention
commanding protagonist that The Sandman had. Even with the introduction in The Sandman Universe #1
of a new character that will most likely be the series attempt at a new
protagonist, The Dreaming (also as a concept and a comic book), really
isn't as interesting without its master involved.
Prospects are better for the latest volume of Books of Magic and the third volume of Lucifer. Tim Hunter is an interesting enough character in his own right, and Lucifer is, and has been at least since Milton's Paradise Lost,
a viable pop culture character with the requisite built in depth necessary to carry his own narrative. The real question is
going to be House of Whispers.
The introduction of Voodoo mythology, as a major aspect of, the
mythology of The Sandman Universe is the most risky. Vertigo Comics has
tried it's hand at Voodoo themed series before with mixed success at
All of these concepts, characters, and forthcoming titles are previewed in The Sandman Universe
#1, in a way that ends up making the book feel like less like a
compelling, especially in a storytelling sense, introduction into a new
shared universe and instead read like an extended commercial for the four series.
Gaiman is a master storyteller, but here the story is more a commercial
or teaser trailer than anything with any real substance.
I'm still going to give the new series a try. I'm perpetually
starved for the type of story that The Sandman was: intelligent,
emotional, deep, mythological, literary, and just plain engaging. I know
none of these new Sandman Universe tales can live up to the original. I
can only hope they make a valiant attempt.