In the fifth issue of Sandman, Morpheus seeks out remaining members of the Justice League in order to retrieve the third and final Tool. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Sandman.
I love serialized fiction, and I attribute that mostly to comic books and The X-Files. There’s something inherently captivating to me about the experience, and it wasn’t until my parents allowed me to watch the pilot of that fantastic science fiction show in 1993, and I was introduced to the wonderful and bizarre world of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. And even if all the episodes weren’t necessarily tied together, there was an emotional connection from story-to-story that I’d never experienced before. I eagerly awaited a new episode every week. I was destroyed and dismayed after every season finale. (Yeah, that show gave some truly devastating and horrific cliffhangers. I can’t. rot13 conversation in the comments about this please????) But it was such a new experience to me because it was a process of growing with characters with every new story. Even if there wasn’t always a mythology, the characters were my constant. That’s what I could depend on every single time.
It’s why I love book series, and why I’m perfectly content splitting up a book in the pedantic way that I do. It’s why I’ve come to adore television as a medium, and it’s why comic books (which I discovered by season two of The X-Files) were so satisfying to me. I already feel pretty biased in my enjoyment of Sandman at this point because of all this. I’m going to do my best to critically engage the text, but I must admit that this is really fun and exciting. This particular issue provides the first chance for Gaiman to leave us on a cliffhanger of sorts, to surprise us with characterization and plot, and to show us how well he can write the characters who appear in the story.
What’s initially remarkable about “Passengers” is the dynamic present between Doctor Dee and Rosemary. Gaiman sets up their collision in a way to make us feel things will go in a certain direction: Doctor Dee will use Rosemary to get where he’s going, and she’ll be horrified by the process. She’s not important to anything, or at least that’s what I believed at first. Understandably, she is horrified by Doctor Dee, and who could blame her? The man is just short of a zombie in terms of appearance. How exactly did he end up this way? I know that the ruby is somewhat related to it, and we also find out why he was put in Arkham Asylum, but I’m not sure of the details. Regardless, I was pleasantly surprised by how sympathetic Rosemary was, given the situation. This man’s basically kidnapping her, and she still shows that capacity to care for him. I do realize that she’s also keeping the situation calm enough to keep herself alive, but it’s still a fascinating scene.
I must also say that the idea that Morpheus travels by jumping through dreams is just one of the coolest things ever. I was transfixed by the artwork on that particular page, with scenes spread out like the spokes on a wheel, giving it a sense of movement and urgency. I’m beginning to understand just how important Morpheus is to the world through this, too. I noticed that when he jumped out of the dream of the sleeping security guard, he sprinkled sand behind him. He gave the man a pleasant dream, almost as if he was thanking him for allowing him in his dream. Every issues expands the layers of this character, and I don’t even view him in the context of getting revenge anymore. He’s trying to return to the world he once knew.
How’s he going to react to Doctor Dee, though? Like the previous issues, Morpheus finds the Tool he’s looking for. Unfortunately, this is the first time that he doesn’t retrieve it within the issue itself. Apparently, whatever Doctor Dee did to it has made it so that Morpheus can’t even touch it. What is he going to do with it now that he’s got it back? Why is Doctor Dee going to a diner? To be honest, I don’t feel good about this. The fact that he shoots Rosemary just before exiting the car is disturbing to me because it’s what I originally expected from him, but his conversation with her made me believe it wouldn’t happen. It’s almost like a reminder to the reader that Doctor Dee has done terrible things, and just because he suffered in Arkham Asylum doesn’t mean he’s magically healed and moral.
Damn it, why does the story end here? I WANT MORE.
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