In the fifty-eighth issue of The Sandman, Hippolyta despairs over the kidnapping of Daniel while Nuala is confused and lost after she is freed. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Sandman.
You know, I need to state this again: I enjoy that so much of this series spends time developing every character who isn’t the Sandman. By and large, this issue is about Hippolyta, Carla, and Nuala. Dream’s only here for a couple pages, and the rest of story concerns secondary characters who have popped up in the series before. It’s happened quite a bit in the past, and I think it’s why this series will stick with me for a long time. I like Dream, and I certainly find him to be a fascinating character. But I’ll remember The Sandman for characters like Death, Wanda, Rose Walker, Delirium, and Fiddler’s Green. Not only are they memorable, but Gaiman has used them all to tell some fantastic stories. That’s why they’ll stick in my mind long after I finish this series.
In Hippolyta, I’m given the story of a woman who refuses to trust nearly anyone, and the events of The Kindly Ones show me that she may have been right to do so. It was so heartbreaking to me to see Hippolyta have to admit to the detective that she never left the house, and that the one time she finally did, her son was kidnapped. The detective is, unsurprisingly, grossly dismissive of her, even going so far as to question her sanity. Well, of course, he does it to Carla instead of Hippolyta because WAAAAAH, I don’t understand someone, they must be OUT OF THEIR MINDS. Yawn, how boring. Why is it that people are always so quick to go this route? If someone’s weird, if something is confusing, or if they simply want to discredit something someone said, then they’re “cr**y.” STOP DOING THIS.
And in this case, something’s happening that is WAY out of the hands of the LAPD. Hippolyta’s dream sequence is clearly a clue towards the truth. Why are the Furies involved at all anyway? They’ve popped up before to warn folks of doom and terror to come, but their ridiculous three question rule, WHICH THEY ALMOST NEVER WARN ANYONE ABOUT BEFOREHAND, prevents them from doing any real service to those they speak to. That being said, I actually did learn something from the Furies: Daniel was kidnapped by people Hippolyta already met. Part of me wants to spend the next hour going through the old issues she appeared in to see if I could compile a list of POSSIBLE SUSPECTS, but I think I’ll just let the surprise creep up on me instead.
And what does, “That was the first time. There will be two more,” mean???? The first kidnapping? The first time the Furies show up? AHHHHH WHAT THE FUCK.
The second half of “Part Two” follows Cluracan and Nuala, two of the faeries we’ve seen throughout the latter part of The Sandman. I’m beginning to understand why The Kindly Ones started the way it did. When Cluracan arrives to take Nuala home, we see how more characters in the Dreaming are confused or ignorant of why things are the way they are in this realm. When Cluracan runs into two beings in a stairwell, they reveal that they don’t even know how to seek an audience with Dream. That’s really strange, right? Like, how long have they been there? Millions of years? Have they never gone to speak with him of their own accord? ISN’T THAT REALLY STRANGE?
But I think it’s one detail of many that gives the Dreaming this feeling of static formality. And Dream really is a formal character, one who sticks to the customs and rules as much as possible. Hell, look at the way he speaks to others. It’s always so detached and stuffy. That’s not a criticism of him, for what it’s worth. It’s just how he behaves. He speaks with Cluracan this way as well. I do want to acknowledge that while Dream is very predictable most of the time, I did get the sense that he was far more sympathetic towards Cluracan’s desire to get his sister back. I think he has changed a little bit since the end of Brief Lives, and I don’t want to ignore that!
But Gaiman (and bless his heart for including this) shows us that Dream’s hospitality in returning Nuala to the Faerie world is not really a positive thing for the one person it affects most: Nuala. Throughout this series, and especially in this issue, we’ve seen evidence that Dream largely ignores the people, creatures, and beings who inhabit his realm and assist him day-to-day. Matthew just spent months without talking to his master. Sure, time passes differently, but that’s still not very fair.
This is what brings Nuala to tears. After all she had done, after being dedicated to Dream, after showing him respect and grace, he gives her away in a matter of minutes. I’m sure he thought he was doing a wonderful thing, but it was gut-wrenching to see her feel so hurt.
She just wanted to matter.
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