Mark Reads ‘The Sandman’: 7×04 – Brief Lives, Chapter 4

In the forty-forth issue of The Sandman, OH FUCK. OH FUCK, I THINK I GET IT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Sandman.

Chapter 4

You know, once this was all spelled out for me, I turned back to the panel in the previous issue to read the names on Delirium’s envelope. RIGHT THERE. IT WAS ALL RIGHT THERE. I totally missed it! I had never even considered the possibility that someone would actively try and prevent Destruction from being found. Dream was going to do that all by himself simply by keeping Delirium distracted. BUT WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? No, seriously, why did the Alder man make his shadow into himself and turn into a bear that forgot it was once the Alder man? Does he know that things are changing? Is he protecting himself? I mean, that has to be the only explanation. Why else would the midnight sun freak him out so much? Also, that single panel where the Alder man, as a bear, tells himself that he is “but a nothing bear” is unintentionally hilarious because the bear looks both frightened and constipated.


As a whole, The Sandman does manage to give us a lot of fulfilling portraits of secondary characters, and this issue is no exception. We meet Danny Capax, a young man wrecked not only by the sudden death of his mediocre father, but by the revelation that his dead lived a very non-mediocre secret life. What Gaiman conveys well here is confusion. It’s bad enough having to deal with the death of your father. But learning he lied to everyone while he was alive? How is Danny supposed to cope with that?

After this avenue turns out to be a dead end (SORRY I FUCKING HAD TO, IT WAS SO IRRESISTABLE), I was pleased that we got to spend some time with Ruby. Well, initially pleased. Dream is horrifically rude to her, and – actually, can we talk about this? Dream, your job is to construct dreams and nightmares for human beings. When does dreaming occur? WHEN PEOPLE ARE SLEEPING, YOU FOOL. How the fuck is he so oblivious to this idea? Why is he at all shocked that a human can’t drive for fifteen hours straight? Still, this leads into my favorite spread in this whole issue, the two pages of narration about Ruby’s life, her motivations, and her quirks. She was just so fascinating, this gorgeous young woman with aspirations of luxury, so talented and so driven. I liked her, and I was excited to see how she’d continue to interact with Dream and Delirium on their road trip, especially since she didn’t really know who they were.

I was also very pleased to see Delirium working through her realm! It looks nothing like any of the other Endless. Plus, she’s found the fourth person on her list, and she’s still alive. For now. Dream, meanwhile, flashes back to the moment when it first became apparent that Destruction was thinking of leaving. In this case, we see the fear of change again. While at Sir Isaac Newton’s house (I think that’s who this is? It kind of looks like him.), Destruction shows Dream how humans are now actively pursuing reason. I’m not sure why this freaks him out so much; doesn’t the cycle always continue? Won’t he always have a job? He says he’s worried about the “age of fire and flame” that comes after this; is he talking of the Industrial Revolution? Why is this bad???? (I must also say I loved the detail of the Corinthian being in this flashback, expressing interest in staying on Earth, and then eating the orangutan’s eyes.)

I initially thought the images of Dream in a building on fire were still part of a flashback, so I was gutted to learn that Ruby had died after falling asleep in bed. Damn it, WE JUST MET HER. I wanted more. 🙁 Even then, I clearly assumed this was random until Dream spelled it out for me. Who the hell would want to stop them from finding Destruction, especially since Dream didn’t want to find his brother in the first place?


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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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