In the seventh issue of Sandman, Morpheus battles Doctor Dee. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Sandman.
“Sound and Fury”
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Doctor Destiny allowed his own paranoia and terror to consume him, and the title of this issue clued me in to a possible parallel Gaiman was drawing between Doctor Destiny and Macbeth. Both men attained their power through less-than-moral means, and once they got it, they refused to give up their violent tendencies. It’s not lost on me that Gaiman intentionally referenced the soliloquy from Macbeth with the issue title, but I think it’s done in a way to improve the depth to the story.
For me, I like the way that Gaiman is slowly expanding the mythology of Morpheus and dreaming. Truth is, I don’t want all the answers about how this works right up front. I love discovering things as the world unfolds; it tends to feel more natural to me. Plus, there’s really so much potential for this story. Dreams are so incoherent, weird, and complex, and this novel is just scratching the surface of where this can all go. We get to see how Doctor Destiny’s battle with Morpheus affects every person who is dreaming at the moment, so I get the sense that the Dreamworld is a lot more important to the world than I ever thought it was. And I don’t just mean that in context of this fictional universe. Most of us dream, and those dreams are a part of our lives. I am also extremely aware that I have used the word “dream” like five times in one paragraph, and now that word doesn’t look real anymore.
The point being, I don’t spend much of my day thinking about something that happens to me all the time. It doesn’t help that I have a hard time remembering my dreams, so it’s not like I talk about them with my friends or anything. I did have a therapist in high school who told me to keep a dream diary, but it failed after a few weeks because I’d wake up from a dream, and then I’d immediately fall back to sleep because why the fuck not. Sleep is amazing! Perhaps I think it is amazing because Morpheus frequently blows sand in my face while I sleep.
Well, now this review has gone to a really weird place. I suppose I should actually talk about issue seven. It’s hard to fully imagine the scope of the Dreamworld, and I’m perfectly okay with that. Getting the chance to see more of it doesn’t make me feel like I’m getting another piece of a puzzle, because that implies that there’s a defined number of pieces. I don’t think that’s the case, so I don’t try to think about it that way. The glimpses we do get are so expansive and bizarre that I get the feeling that… well, I really have no idea where Gaiman can take this reality. I mean, there is not a chance in the world that I could have guessed that the Dreamworld would manifest that whole Julius Caesar dream sequence. I MEAN SERIOUSLY IT’S JUST SO WEIRD.
I do love the dynamic of this issue, too. So much of this is about Morpheus basically letting Doctor Destiny lose control. I don’t think Morpheus really knew what would happen with the ruby. But what else can he do? This man his a stone imbued with himself, but he can’t actually touch it or do anything to it. Incidentally, it’s Doctor Dee’s loss of control that destroys the ruby, giving Morpheus his power back. (And look, it might be because I just barely finished Lord of the Rings for the first time, but I liked the parallel, unintentional or not, to the One Ring.) How beautiful is that page of Doctor Destiny in the whiteness of the Dreamworld, by the way? I turned the page and just spent a good thirty seconds staring at it. See, this is why I love graphic novels so much. Look how much this page conveys without a single word. And at the same time, the words do a fantastic job, too. A good graphic novel is a brilliant combination between the best of the written word and the visual world. That goes for the page where a giant, oversize Morpheus holds Doctor Dee in his hand. The image is so immense, and so is what Morpheus says: “Thank you, John Dee.” After all that he’s done, Doctor Dee is forgiven. Once again, I’m impressed by the emotional depth of Morpheus. He’s an eternal being who seemed rather stoic when he was introduced, and I’m discovering that he’s far from that.
I love that Morpheus returns the Doctor to Arkham Asylum, and gives him back his dreams. It doesn’t mean that Doctor Dee is healed or that his previous issues will disappear, but it means that this chapter has closed.
So what the hell is Morpheus going to do now?
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