Jul 28, 2009

[Comics] The Sandman Vol. 2 - The Doll's House

The Sandman Vol. 2 - The Doll's HouseI was never much of a dreamer - at least not consciously. I know that technically we all dream to one degree or another as part of REM sleep and the only difference is just that not all of us remember our dreams as well as other do. Given this, I have to admit that I've never really give dreams much thought given my lack of "first-hand" experience with.

Exploring the worlds of The Sandman Vertigo comic have certainly been interesting and just go on to remind all of us that dreams and stories can be practically synonymous - both worlds involve the imagination and are only limited by what the human mind can possible conceive, something that is constantly being redefined with the birth of every new individual. I think that's part of the appeal of The Sandman for me - the sheer expansiveness of it all and how the scale manages to tap into the writer in me and those countless worlds of possibility we all try to tap into when we write stories.

The Sandman: The Doll's House is the second compilation of the DC-Vertigo comic. This volume follows the story arc known as The Doll's House, as depicted in issues 9 - 16 of the series.

This particular volume revolves around a regular human being known as Rose Walker, who finds herself under careful scrutiny of Dream. It seems that she's bound to become a dream vortex, something that could rip apart all of the Dreaming unless Morpheus intervenes. Thus as Rose seeks out her brother Jed in the waking world, Dream searches for the vortex, and thus ultimately her. At the same time, Dream still has the task of putting his realm in order, which includes a missing nightmare known only as the Corinthian and an entire part of his realm known as Fiddler's Green.

Given that Dream finally has the vestments of his office, this volume sets the potential to really see Dream in "action" if we were following any other typical comic book series, but instead we find ourselves following humans around, primarily Rose Walker. This may seem rather unusual and strange at first but it's just all part of the Sandman style of storytelling that really helps set it apart from the rest. The stories covered in this book become very important in the long run since it establishes many key characters and plot points that are picked up in later books time and time again.

Kudos definitely has to go out to the character of the Corinthian, who truly personifies the stuff of nightmares. I mean seriously, he's a serial killer with mouths for eyes who likes to steal the eyes of his victims for his own purposes. He even gets to attend a serial killers convention, cleverly disguised as a cereal convention. You do get the pun right? Beyond that, it's in this book that we get a better look at two more of the Endless, namely Desire and his/her sibling Despair. The character of Desire is amazingly interesting, and I don't just mean that based on his/her androgynous looks. There's just so much depth and well...potential, for lack of a better term, that you know Desire will play a key role throughout the series.

I especially loved the story about Robert Gadling, a man who eventually finds himself unable to die after Dream and his elder sister Death come to an agreement. Instead of the usual way these stories go, Gadling just ends up being a fixed point in space and time (to borrow the Doctor Who / Torchwood term for it) and develops a maturing look at human society as a whole. He too becomes a character to be revisited in later books and that just goes to show that Gaiman does not carelessly introduce characters into the universe, especially in the middle of the story arc.

The art remains in the same style which is not overwhelmingly beautiful to the point that it might distract you from the story itself, which makes it very effective. I especially liked some of the more creative transitions done in order to convey the different between the waking world and the Dreaming, as best seen in issue 10 when we get to follow Rose into her dream by physically reorienting the book to the side so that things are right side up. It was such a simple idea but still quite novel and amazingly creative.

This is definitely an important part of the entire Sandman collection, one that you can't get away from reading and one that is also highly enjoyable to read. It also manages to survive on its own without too much support from the first volume, which is pretty interesting in terms of the kind of development that must have gone into it.

The Sandman: The Doll's House deserves 5 shards of glass from the lost city out of 5.


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