In the twenty-sixth issue of The Sandman, Dream navigates the complicated and delicate demands of the beings who have come to claim the keys to Hell. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Sandman.
“Seasons of Mist: Episode 5”
Well, this isn’t going to end well, is it? I only say that because I cannot figure out how Dream is going to resolve this. Only the demons have offered something Dream might actually want in exchange for Hell, but I don’t think it’s very smart to give them Hell. Well, I don’t know that Dream should give anyone Hell. TEAM FAERIE, Y’ALL.
This issue opens with the aforementioned banquet, and for real, it’s one of the most surreal things I’ve ever seen in a comic book or graphic novel. Thor is eating. I don’t know why that very concept by itself makes me want to laugh. It’s also hard not to think about The Avengers while reading this issue. (At the time I’m writing this, 5/15, I’ve still not seen the film. I AM WAITING AND HOPE TO HAVE SEEN IT BY THE TIME THIS IS ACTUALLY LIVE ON MARK READS.) On top of that, I am paying particular attention to Loki, because… well, let’s be honest with ourselves. He is not to be trusted in any situation ever for all of eternity. He’s observing all of these gods and spirits and demons for a reason, and even though he later concedes that he can’t trick Dream in the Dreaming, I don’t trust him. This is my attempt to stay prepared, and it’s going to end poorly as it always does.
I think the most confusing and surprising part of “Episode 5” is the fact that Dream not only agrees to see every party privately, but he actually goes through with it. Initially, I thought he was setting up these intimate meetings as some sort of trap or trick. What could he possibly gain from meeting with each of them separately? Wouldn’t that be time-consuming and irritating? But I misjudged Dream’s sincerity. He invited all of these creatures and demigods into his palace, and he did so out of genuine hospitality. To me, reading through the parade of people who come to him to discuss what they have to offer him feels like the manifestation of this desire of his to be a good host. I don’t believe there’s a clever trick or surprise behind this. He seriously wanted to know what everyone had to offer him. That’s kind of awesome. I wasn’t surprised, though, that no one really had anything worthy for Dream aside from the demons of Hell.
Still, as nice and considerate as Dream is, it’s clear he’s not going to take shit from anyone. He dismisses everyone in the same way: telling them he’ll take their offer into consideration, and then telling them to get the fuck out of his chambers. Okay, not in that tone, but I am imagining him saying GTFO after each meeting, and it just works, okay? It works because at the end of all of this, Lucifer’s final warning rings true. This goddamn key has made Dream’s life so much more complicated and stressful than it should be. To have this burden and task is tearing him apart, and it haunts me to look at that very final panel in this issue. Dream’s face is awash in the shadows of doubt, uncertainty, and exhaustion. How is he going to make this decision, and who will get the key to Hell? I still think the Faeries are right, but even that might be a trick. I feel like Dream and the Faerie realm are on good terms, though, so perhaps that’s not the case.
This is all going to be super fucked up in the next issue, isn’t it?
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