In the thirteenth issue of The Sandman, Dream visits a friend he’s had for 600 years. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Sandman.
“Men of Good Fortune”
You know, as much as I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY need to know what’s going on with Jed and where the Corinthian is headed, this brief respite from the story is fascinating to me. I think it’s pretty much common knowledge at this point that trope inversions are basically my favorite thing on the planet. After time travel. Wait, what about time travel trope inversions? Oh fuck that is the one thing I love in the world more than anything.
While it’s clear that this story is meant in one way to introduce us to both Hob Gadling and Dream’s first human friend, it also shows us how willing Gaiman is to bend what is expected of him and the genre he’s writing in. I’m pretty sure I don’t know of a single story I’ve ever read about a mortal being gaining immortality and not despising it with every fiber of their being. That’s the trope! Human gets immortality, human regrets ever asking for it. THAT IS WHAT IS ALWAYS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN EVERY TIME.
But Hob Godling’s story is so unlike this! He does make mistakes, but he also learns from them. But it’s not like his experience is a redemption story, either. He changes somewhat over the course of six hundred years, but how much different is he from that day that Dream and Death met him? His manner of speaking changed, as did his clothing. But here we have a character who is simply existing, living up to what he told those people in that tavern in 1389: he just refuses to die. In the process, though, he discovers that he has a friend in Dream. Who, for the record, is dressed like the very best late eighties goth I’ve ever seen. Bless his heart.
This is a very brief review, yes, but it doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the story. Well, yet, I should say. It’s entirely possibly that this is very relevant to the whole novel, but the whole issue is a narrative break from what’s happening with all the other characters. It’s satisfying, though, because it gives me yet another layer to Dream’s characterization, and that’s what I truly appreciate.
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