In the sixty-eighth issue of The Sandman, I don’t think I’ve ever shouted more at a cliffhanger in my whole life. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Sandman.
This is, no doubt, some of Gaiman’s best writing. To give you some context, I had just finished writing the review for the previous issue, and it made me late. I was supposed to leave for a birthday party at a very specific time to make it there in time, but I WAS INSPIRED. I didn’t want to lose the thought I had, so I made my boyfriend wait until I was done. Just before we left the house, I ran back to his room to grab my copy of The Kindly Ones. I couldn’t wait. I needed the next issue, and I needed it right then. So for a solid fifteen minutes, I sat in the passenger seat, quietly reading the pages with an intense ferocity, occasionally shaking my head at certain reveals, often saying WHAT THE FUCK as I tried to figure out where this was going. And then I hit that cliffhanger and I just started shouting. NO. FUCK YOU. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN! HOW IS HE GOING TO DO THIS? YOU ARE EVIL, NEIL GAIMAN. Oh my god, how did any human being wait a month for issue sixty-nine? I know that I am only going to have to wait twelve hours to read the last part, and IT IS KILLING ME. Oh my god.
This is also the most suspenseful issue in the series, easily. It helps that Gaiman constantly shifts the narrative point of view every couple of pages, giving us tiny bits and pieces of all the various plot lines, and in the process, DROPPING SO MANY ANSWERS TO THINGS I HAVE BEEN WONDERING. Can we discuss all of these things???
- I am so attached to Matthew/Dream. I adore their friendship, and I can tell I am going to be GUTTED by the end of this.
- My god, the entire conversation about facets of the whole… just brilliance. To me, it reads like Dream is finally realizing what the whole of his life is. He is not looking at individual parts anymore. The arrival of the Furies has forced him to look at what he has done to those around him during his existence, and now he knows what his life means.
- The focus on rules is very crucial to this volume and the series. First of all, it’s a way to acknowledge the rules of the story itself. It even feels kind of meta: there are sometimes rules to telling a story, and sometimes we have to obey those, too. Not always, mind you, and Gaiman certainly breaks rules all the time. So why does Dream want to respect the rules of his realm, of his existence, and of the larger system he is a part of? Part of me thinks it’s because those rules are what he’s followed and have influenced him to treat others the way he has. It’s almost like he’s saying that the rules were what led him to hurt others, so he’ll follow them to his demise if he has to. Of course, I can see like fifty other readings of this section, too. IT’S SO DENSE. I LOVE IT.
- Dream bids Matthew goodbye, and Matthew refuses to leave.
- “So what are we waiting for? Let’s go knock ’em dead.”
- SOBBING. SOBBING.
- WHY IS DELIRIUM GOING TO LUX????
- You know, I didn’t really comment on Zelda’s death at length, so I’m glad that this issue brings back Hal so that Rose can confront him about leaving. Hal is crude and uncaring, and I’m not surprised by that. But how is this related? I wondered. I DON’T GET IT.
- “It was good being your friend.” “Friend?” “Yeah. Friend. Shit. I don’t know. Whatever.”
- HELP ME, I AM BEING DESTROYED BY FEELINGS FOR MATTHEW/DREAM.
- “I told him that there was always freedom, even the ultimate freedom. The freedom to leave. You don’t have to say anywhere forever.”
- oh my god I GET IT. I GET IT. This is about the absolute choice. Lucifer chose to leave it all behind, and that act was an act of freedom. OH GOD, THIS IS WHAT DREAM IS GOING TO DO. Well, doesn’t that mean that it is possible he’ll find a way to leave the Dreaming behind?
- “Two of them have stayed in the Dreaming, in other roles. Lucien is one of those, he was the first Raven of them all.”
- HOLY FUCK, I CAN’T BELIEVE IT.
- “As you said in your silly poem. What we are, we choose to be. I choose to leave. Brother? Will you give me back my face?”
- They’re leaving. They’re all leaving. This parallel is destroying me. THIS IS SUCH GOOD WRITING.
- I admit to yelping when Death showed up in the palace. NO, WHY IS SHE THERE? She’s not there to take Daniel, is she???
- Oh. She says she isn’t there for either of them in the next panel. Phew!
- Like, never in my life did I think I would be floored by a character admitting they must be responsible for their actions, but Dream doing this is SUCH A HUGE CHARACTER MOMENT. We have seen his careless, indifferent behavior over sixty issues, and now he’s facing his own past, head-on. This is momentous.
- Oh my god, he is making Matthew take his gems and his helmet back to the castle, and he made them tiny enough for Matthew to carry them. No, I’m not emotionally overwhelmed by any of this, I swear I’m not.
- I’m lying. I just started crying when Dream said goodbye to Matthew. There’s only one way for this to end, and as much as I hate it, I know it makes sense. Dream knows he’s not coming back to the castle. It’s time for him to leave. But where is going to go? And why does he need to see Death before he leaves? Perhaps he wants to say goodbye to her more than anyone else.
- WHY DOES THIS ISSUE END RIGHT HERE? This is a great, tragic injustice.
Monday’s review will be very, very special. That is all.
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