In the sixty-seventh issue of The Sandman, everyone’s intentions become clearer. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Sandman.
When the crows said there was a war coming, they weren’t fucking around. The Corinthian arrives back in the Dreaming, and now it’s obvious just how much destruction the Furies have caused in this realm. Numerous beings and nightmares and aspects of the Dreaming are dead. Dream himself is gone. There’s “turbulence” at the center of the Dreaming. Basically, this is the beginning of the end. The very setting of this whole series is literally falling apart. I mean, I know I’m approaching the conclusion not just of this volume, but the entire story, so I can’t imagine a more upsetting (and brilliant) way to close this all out. The Dreaming will soon be no more if Dream doesn’t do something.
In a way, Gaiman acknowledges this through the characters on the page as they express frustration and sadness at the fact that Dream is nowhere to be found, once again having disappeared at an inconvenient time. One of the best things about The Sandman is Gaiman’s constant focus on all the secondary characters, showing us how the protagonists’ actions affect them. The most recent volumes have shown us Nuala, Matthew, Lucien, and Mervyn in great detail, and that helps give the interactions in this volume so much emotional resonance. As the Corinthian and Lucien discuss their past with Dream, it’s wistful and sober. There’s always the chance that he’ll take another few decades to return. I’m sure they both truly believe that he might never return. Because we get this chance to hear what it was like in the Dreaming without Morpheus around, it makes the current situation all the more stressful. And then we’ve got that damn funeral scene hanging over this whole story. God, it’s the worst. It’s like being spoiled for a huge plot way ahead of time, and it’s all I can think about! Though I admit that as much as it destroys me, it’s brilliant. It’s given this volume so much energy, and I know if I wasn’t writing this piece by piece, I’d finish all thirteen volumes in one sitting. IT’S SUCH GOOD STORYTELLING.
I’ll also say that Dream’s reveal of why he’s been so complacent the past few issues could be my favorite writing choice of Gaiman’s in all of The Sandman. Dream’s character development has been slow as hell, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never really had a similar experience with another fictional character. He’s been so static for much of the series, and I usually found the secondary characters to grow much quicker than he did. Ever since Brief Lives, though, Dream has been hurtling towards this very moment. I was so confused as to why Dream insisted he had killed his own son, and said he did so twice. What? Daniel was clearly alive, so… what? But when I find out that he’s speaking of Orpheus, not Daniel, the entire volume finally makes sense. Dream wants to atone. Dream wants to die. Dream believes, as his sister put it, that he has deformed reality to a point where it cannot be fixed. His very existence is a flaw, and he starts to pour out his doubts and guilts to Nuala. Oh god, this line:
“But, as has recently been pointed out to me, intent and outcome are rarely coincident.”
BAM. THERE IT IS. For most of his existence, this basic concept has meant nothing to Dream, but now he sees the horrifying truth to it all. His intent has been hurting others. Oh god, he’s going to let the Furies destroy him, isn’t he? IT SEEMS SO OBVIOUS NOW. Oh fuck, his death has to be real. And I think Nuala knows that. She mentions that she earlier desired Dream’s love as her boon, but she realizes this is going to be a fruitless request, least of all because Dream probably isn’t going to be around any longer. And yet, I found their parting to be kind of… happy. She lets him go, knowing that he does not love her, but with the knowledge that she, at one time, loved him. Perhaps that is enough for her.
Rose Walker’s story seems a bit jarring in the midst of this. Seriously, I don’t get it! Thematically, her continued search for purpose fits in, but I don’t feel like she has any part of the story that’s taking place in the Dreaming. (Well, except for the fact that BARNABAS IS HANGING OUT WITH THAT HOMELESS GUY WHAT THE HELL?) I did like her inner monologue about the formality and finality of death, but how does this connect to everything else? Is it even supposed to?
I don’t know yet, but there aren’t many more issues left before this is all over. I do like using the word “finality” to describe death in this issue, and Destiny’s panels echo the sentiment. It’s kind of creepy that there are so many possible versions of himself walking around in his garden, but as all these realities begin to fold in on one another, leading to the final reality, the words in his book become solid and clear. I love that his book describes the one we are holding in our hands, too, and it tells us of the arrival of Dream back into his realm. Also, I did laugh at the idea that Dream made himself a train. It’s a bit silly, no? But it harkens at the seriousness of the situation, especially because it gives me the sensation that he is desperate to return to the Dreaming and finish things off. Hell, I think that’s the whole point of the final few panels. Dream has resolved himself to doing what he must do at this point in his existence, and I don’t think he’s going to fight off the Furies.
It’s not like they’re just going to go away, either! Lyta finds out that her son is alive and that the Furies have no intention of rescuing the kid. Their purpose is for revenge, and that’s it. So now that’s clear: Hippolyta Hall can’t even call them back. Once they were set in motion, there was no stopping them. So what exactly is Dream having Lucien prepare for him? How is this going to lead him to the end of this? Is it going to guarantee his own end?
I’m scared, y’all.
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