“We have no nightmares. We are the hounds of Hades. Gods fear us. Demons fear us. We have hounded kings and angels. We have taken vengeance on worlds and on universes. We are the Kindly Ones”–the Furies
The story of Sandman’s penultimate and ninth volume was hinted throughout the series. Everything was building up to it. Desire’s lust for power. Hector Hal’s wife Hippolyta’s hatred of Dream. Her infant son Daniel even visited the House of Mystery in a previous volume. This is the main reason Vertigo was my favorite thing about DC. They gave the creators more freedom than DC’s main line titles. Gaiman was allowed to decide when his story would end. DC could’ve pressured him to keep it going longer than he wished, but they let him decide its finale.
This story has Loki and Robin Goodfellow do the unthinkable. This is not the Loki from Marvel’s comics. That Loki is a misrepresented god of evil, complete with horns. No, the Loki of Norse myths was a god of mischief, not evil. As for Robin Goodfellow, he is another example of Shakespeare’s influence on Gaiman. This is the same Robin Goodfellow from his famous comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In that story, Robin played pranks on the other characters and reveled in the events that resulted from them. He did not seem to care about the consequences of his actions, as should be expected of a trickster. Robin is a great representation of the “chaotic neutral” alignment. The chaotic neutral character is often a trickster, who doesn’t side with either good or evil, and instead operates in total freedom. And it is this carelessness that threatens the very fabric of the Dreaming. It is so dire that Dream even conjures another Corinthian, the very same twisted creature who feasted on eyeballs. This time, however, Dream erases the Corinthian’s will so that he will be completely loyal to his creator and sends him, with Matthew as his keeper, to locate the missing infant. (Against Matthew’s wishes, I should add.)
But finding Daniel in the end does not alleviate Dream’s problems. The Furies have been unleashed. These beings, as the opening quote says, are the tormentors of the living. They pursue you into madness and leave destruction in their wake. This is the Dreaming’s last stand. One of my favorite moments in this series is when Mervyn Pumpkinhead faces down the Furies with a gun. “I’m your worst nightmare.” he tells them. “A pumpkin with a gun.” We barely get to know this charming cynic, and then he is gone in a blaze of glory. And why are the Furies after Dream?
Dream had spilled family blood, as Desire had predicted. Osiris had died and cried out for revenge, which the Furies answered. And now he had to pay for his crime.
The only thing I didn’t care for was the art style. Unlike other Vertigo comics, Sandman has never had a consistent art team. Each arc had different artists, and it was hard to get into the art style for this one. It seemed too cartoonish for such dark material.
And now the story is almost finished. The final hour has come. The Dreaming needs a new leader. Be here for the conclusion of my retrospective of one of Vertigo’s titles, as I review the final volume, The Wake. (Note: Yes, I know there’s Endless Nights, but I’m not counting that. I’m also going to be unable to review the spinoffs, but they’re not that important anyway)