Mark Reads ‘Sandman’: 1×02 – Imperfect Hosts

In the second issue of Sandman, Morpheus tries to return home after his imprisonment, but that’s much easier said than done. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Sandman.

“Imperfect Hosts”

Oh, this is just so great already. I see a lot of similarity to American Gods in a way, but what I’m digging about Sandman is how quick Gaiman just drops us into this imagined world, expecting us to figure it all out for ourselves. Like American Gods, there are a whole lot of names and characters dropped onto the pages (like the names of the three witches what is happening), but it’s not overwhelming to the point of distraction. I mean CAIN AND ABEL. Is this on some other astral plane or something? Where is this? Wait, why am I asking these questions? Don’t answer them.

Wait, you can answer this one? Where is my own Gregory??? I want an adorable gargoyle of my own!

Issue two gives us the main character’s name: Morpheus. Which is slightly distracting because I know the main character in The Matrix is named the same, which is extra distracting because I’ve never seen that movie. Yes, I realize what a tragedy that is because I’ve never gotten such a horrific reaction to admitting I haven’t seen something quite like The Matrix. (Titanic is close, but man, fuck James Cameron. I don’t want to watch anything of his aside from Aliens.) I think this might be in the Dreamscape, or perhaps that’s another location or another realm than the one where Cain and Able live. It was also slightly confusing when the narrative switched over to Arkham Asylum and Doctor Destiny because I thought this was all in the same world. I do like that there’s an Arkham Asylum in this story, though! OH GOD ARE THERE CONTINUITY TIE-INS INSIDE SANDMAN. IS THIS IN THE DC UNIVERSE. HELP ME YOU DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE MULTIPLE STORIES EXISTING IN THE SAME UNIVERSE.

Okay, I promise I’ll be fine. There’s a large section that deals with Morpheus’s “dreamworld,” and I can’t say I understand it just yet. Yes, that means I am going to speculate about it right now and be terrifically wrong about it in the process. As far as I can tell, Morpheus is in control of it, and for him, it’s a physical place that exists in a realm separate from ours. What I think I understand, then, is that Morpheus really is a Lord of dreams. I get the impression that he provides the things that dreams (and nightmares) are made of. That’s what the gates are? There’s a question mark there because I’m guessing?

I suppose I also haven’t commented on the sheer strangeness of a lot of the imagery and coloring of this book. That’s something I’ll have to think of more often because I’m simply not used to it. Mark Reads has always been a very wordy experience, and while that’s still a big focus of what I’m going to write for these reviews, I have to remember that a graphic novel adds an extra layer to the story because of the format it’s in. I’m both unsettled and intrigued by how Morpheus works. He’s quite literally white, and his beady,  pale eyes are far from comforting. But he’s got this authoritative air to him in the way that he’s drawn. The characters we meet in this Dreamworld look human, but the way they’re drawn (in terms of dress and style) is both dreamlike and kind of punk rock. I mean, look at Lucien’s hair! He total listens to Chaos U.K. You can thank me later for putting that image into your head.

Having this exist as a graphic novel means that mental images are, obviously, immediate. We see exactly how Morpheus’s castle has decayed and fallen apart in his absence. Does that mean his work in the Dreamworld keeps it alive? In a way, I can see how that relates to ideas developed further in American Gods, which came after this. Does the very act of dreaming give this world meaning and form? I get the feeling that this is (at least thematically) how this works, and that’s pretty much confirmed by the appearance of the three witches. I am getting the same sensation I had during American Gods where I don’t understand the reference that Gaiman’s making, but that’s okay. I don’t have to know everything. I just need to understand that Morpheus put power to administer the Dreamworld in three Tools, and these Tools were stolen from him. This entire section (aside from having a brilliant reference to the League of Justice) sets the stage for what I imagine is going to comprise most of this volume: Morpheus is going to try and get these three tools back. There’s a pouch of sand, a helm, and a ruby Dreamstone, and Morpheus decides to skip going to Hell (!!!!) and to the Justice League, and instead head for John Constantine to retrieve the pouch. And that’s when I realize this is the John Constantine of the DC Universe and I don’t know why I didn’t expect this to be a part of these books and I AM JUST SO EXCITED.

Mark Links Stuff

- Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr. Follow away!
– I go on tour THIS WEEK. This is the master post with all dates; each city name links to the RSVP page on Facebook. I will be in 15 cities in the western half of North America. Posts will continue uninterrupted while I’m tour! If you live near any of the cities I’m coming to, all events are free and will be a blast. Come support me and BE ENTERTAINED.
- I am reading bad fic/novels on video to raise money for my AIDS/LifeCycle ride in June. Contribute money or vote for what you want to see me read!
– You can purchase eBooks or physical books from me to support what I’m doing! I’m now selling original short stories for $1 each twice a month. “Hell” is now out!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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1 Response to Mark Reads ‘Sandman’: 1×02 – Imperfect Hosts

  1. Leo says:

    You are so, so extraordinarily unprepared. I’ve thought this often, I know, for many fandoms, but Sandman is the only one that literally blew my mind in this way on my first read. You don’t know what you’re getting into.

    PREPARED. You aint it.

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