In the seventy-third issue of The Sandman, Hob Gadling copes with the loss of his longtime friend. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Sandman.
An Epilogue, Sunday Mourning
Oh god, I don’t like Renfaires. I don’t! I had to go to two of them entirely against my own interest for school projects. One was for my history class in seventh grade, and I spent most of the time feeling miserable in the disgusting spring heat in Devore, California, while I gagged on the smell of horse poop and giant legs of turkey. Back then, this was not meant as a critical field trip; it was supposed to be immersive, but nothing is more distracting to such an experience than being in goddamn San Bernardino at the end of May. There’s no way Elizabethan England was 102 degrees and full of antsy school children and stuck right between two loud freeways and can you tell I still hold a grudge?
I went again in high school, but it was for AP European History. Our task? Find as many historical inaccuracies and anachronistic details as possible. Pork chop on a stick? A gross lack of people of color working anywhere? Baked potatoes with broccoli and sour cream? Horrifically bad accents? I was basically taught to hate the inaccurate glorification of a time period that wasn’t all that great for anyone who wasn’t rich and white. Thank you, Mrs. Rosa. YOU HAVE FILLED MY HEART WITH HATRED.
So there’s something inherently funny about Hob Gadling, WHO ACTUALLY LIVED THROUGH THE RENAISSANCE, spending hours at a Renfaire and tearing it to pieces. It’s just so beautiful! That’s not the only purpose he serves in this issue, though I admit to being a bit confused at first about why this issue came after the end of the wake. Over the years, Hob had become quite close to Dream, despite that they only saw each other once a century. That brief meeting each century, though, was something he looked forward to. It was a constant thing, and I don’t imagine that he ever considered that he’d have to live without it. Ugh, I sort of hate typing that? I know that Dream wanted this, but I miss him. I can tell from how things went in the previous issue that Daniel is going to do things differently in the Dreaming, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll do better. (Though that’s entirely possible, of course.) But reading this issue got me thinking about how Dream might have played a similar role as Hob’s girlfriend does. He often is a sounding board for what other characters in this series have been feeling, so I think Hob would have complained just as loudly to him about the Renfaire as he does to Guenevere.
At the same time, I think this Epilogue is about Hob moving on. He hasn’t moved on since experiencing Morpheus’s wake in his dreams. So when Death joined Hob, I knew that this was all a very intentional issue on the part of Gaiman. This entire story in the seventy-third issue gives me the sense that Hob is a bit more restless than usual. What is he doing with him immortal life? Is this what keeps him entertained? So when Death offered Hob the chance to break his contract with the previous Dream Lord, I actually expected him to take it. Hob Gadling had been alive for a long time. He’d been through so much of history, and it’s the reason why he’s so offended by the Renfaire. This isn’t an experience that was ever real. But then again, Hob has lived for centuries. He hasn’t had a very typical life at all. So why give up now? Just because his friend decided to? Because things aren’t great? It’s kind of comforting that Hob refuses to give up, choosing to continue living on. That’s how he moves on from the death of Dream. It’s why he has a dream of seeing Morpheus and Destruction. He accepts that Dream is dead, and that there’s always going to be one common ending for everyone: death.
Hob Gadling just chose to delay his for a while.
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