“Only the phoenix arises and does not descend. And everything changes. And nothing is truly lost.”
I started this series of posts to talk about one of my all-time favorite comic books, The Sandman. It’s been interesting going through the volumes, as the first time I got into the series, I never really finished it. I love to come into stories fresh, with no pre-conceived notions about what will happen. I may make cursory glances at Wikipedia, but for the most part, I always try to avoid spoilers. But now we come to the ending volume, The Wake. This is the grand finale to what I feel is truly one of the all-time greats.
In the previous volume, Dream was hounded by the Furies and lost his life. Thus, Hippolyta’s son, Daniel, is chosen to take his place. Many characters come to pay their respects, both ally and adversary. Even Desire, who had sought to reign over the realm of the Dreaming, mourns her brother’s passing. “The bonds of family bind both ways. They bind us up, support us, help us, and they are also a bond from which it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to extricate oneself.” Despair, often Dream’s cohort, says this of Dream. “He was a creature of hope, for dreams are hopes and echoes of hopes, and I am a creature of despair.” They may have been allies or enemies, but they are still the Endless. For better or worse, they are still family.
One of the funniest moments in the entire series happens in this arc. It’s a conversation between Superman, Batman, and the Martian Manhunter (aka J’onn J’onzz):
Superman: “The [dream] I hate is where I’m an actor on a strange television version of my life. Have you ever had that dream?”
Batman: “Doesn’t everyone?”
Martian Manhunter: “I don’t.”
(For those who don’t get the joke, both Superman and Batman had their own TV shows during the Silver Age of comics. Martian Manhunter, despite having been created at that time, never got his own silly Silver Age TV show. Maybe it’s for the best, and I actually like Adam West’s take on Batman)
The final chapter of the comic is what we Cajuns call “lagniappe.” It ties up the last loose end, as William Shakespeare pays his last debt to Dream before he passes from this mortal coil. He writes his last play, one of his greatest in my opinion, The Tempest. I felt this was a fitting conclusion, as I feel The Tempest is one of Shakespeare’s most imaginative plays.
I plan to do another comic book series this way, but I’m not sure which one it will be. In any event, it won’t happen until next year. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this retrospective.