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Parasha: Sandman, December 8th reading

Hrm, I forgot how much I wasn't in love with the art for some of the Sandman stuff, including this first issue. It's skillful and all, but some of the faces look more like silly putty than, y'know, people. Which bugs me.

Nice touches of dream stuff here and there, like the very first panel where Dude That Barely Appears In This Comic is just waking up after having drifted off. Also a nice touch having the book being read as a goodnight story be Through the Looking Glass.

This first issue is, well, a bit over-the-top with many things, and also more mundane than the rest of the series, which gets more into the mythology and world-building and such. But it works as an introduction, at least, and as a setting things up in order to knock them down or mess around with them later on.

The main thing that interests me is my shift in view since when I first read this ages ago, regarding Alex and his father. I'm pretty sure I had a lot more sympathy for Alex before because he wasn't as actively evil, and in some ways had a tiger by the tail that he couldn't let go of, when it wasn't even him that grabbed the tail in the first place. Now though? I have a lot less sympathy, since he's still doing wrong by passively going along with everything his father taught him, keeping Dream prisoner, and he's pretty much also admitted to killing people and other such things. Unless that's a bluff. His father, on the other hand, was a more active asshole to put it mildly, but at least he went for what he wanted, and didn't just sit around wringing his hands about "it wasn't my fault!" I guess I still think he's scum and deserved worse than he got, but at least I respect him more for it, in some ways. Maybe "respect" isn't the right word but.. you know what I mean. I hope. I think.

What a revenge to take on him, though! That's just... wow. Fate worse than death, indeed.

I'm also especially interested in anyone reading this for the first time, and curious about your own reactions and thoughts just one issue in. Because I know what we're in for down the line, but it's been so long, and frankly I never started here at the beginning to start with, so... I'm curious!

I'm also noticing things like the many alternate bolded words, which get a bit silly, same as with Understanding Comics. But oh well.

Notes: A lot of the references I'm not sure about! So if anyone has any to add, feel free!

I"d lie to see Aleister and his friends try to make fun of me!": This would of course be a reference to Aleister Crowley.

Wesley Dodds: The shape of Dream's helm and the small reference to Wesley Dodds seem to be an attempt to shoehorn this into the regular DC Comics continuity, as he was the Golden Age hero/noir character the Sandman, and apparently his gas mask is supposed to be hearkening back to Dream's own helm. Personally? I always found that helm silly, but to each his/her own.

Here's the rest of the schedule. And let me know if anyone wants a spoiler post as well to discuss things.


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(Deleted comment)
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:35 pm (UTC)
Is that the epitome of goth, or the epitome of emo?

4) Comb his hair? With what? (Although to be fair, he doesn't really change once he's free...)
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Dec. 9th, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
Yes, but that doesn't mean he can't be before his time!
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
2) Dream is both wonderful and terrible at the same time. In some ways he seems utterly human in that, but in other ways, like in this issue, he's so obviously... not. I definitely like him as a character, but some of the things he does are distinctly... flawed, yes. To put it kindly. (Yes, that's sort of a pun.)

3) It's hard to say what he does best, since there are multiple things he does so well. (I'm not going to say he's perfect or anything, but he does have multiple strengths.) I think my own personal liking is the way he creates a whole mythos and makes it feel real, and vast, and, well, *mythical*, etc etc.... but the stuff you point out is also very good.

5) Yeah, that's pretty much how I'm leaning now, as well. It's just my younger self mostly that was more wishy-washy on it.

6) At least one of them will! And I'm not sure if this general trend makes it better or worse, in my mind. On the one hand, it's neat to see this little mythos as part of an even larger whole and see how it's connected, and also neat to see just how he manages to create those connections. On the other hand, then we end up with stuff like that weird-assed helm.

7) Yeah, I was thinking of SMT as well - I never read it, but it was coming out alongside Sandman for a while, while I was working at the comic shop.

8) Duly noted, I'll probably start adding them again after this chapter.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 12th, 2010 08:03 am (UTC)
2) Well, if you're going to write a story about gods and personifications of nature, then I strongly support the notion that they're Not Human and shouldn't act exactly as such. It's a fine line to walk, though, because if you go too far in the Not Human direction, you're not left with anything to sympathize with.

I think you're right on for protagonists. For the bad guys, I definitely prefer that they err on the side of alien these days. Too much human insight into the Big Evil generally makes them petty and small-minded; see the Aes Sedai and the Forsaken (although I haven't read the most recent book). One of Sauron's great strengths is that you never get to see from his POV.
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Dec. 9th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
I want to know where/how he got the feather torn from an angel's wing! If that was legit, it leans toward bad-ass... and makes it even more pathetic that his son doesn't do *anything* with that legacy. Either keeping it going, or utterly rejecting it.

To be fair to him though, we don't know why the spell went wrong, to the extent that it grabbed the wrong target. It could have been aimed at Dream, but someone waaay back when screwed up and thought it targeted Death, and it got recorded that way... or it could be that he fucked up the spell somehow. Hard to tell! And I also can't remember if it's ever spelled out more in detail.

And I'd have a bit more sympathy with his not knowing what to do with Dream, since what DO you do with a captive Endless (put him in a longboat 'til he's sober?), but then that implies that he wouldn't know what the hell to do with Death either, so... again, yeah.

Dec. 10th, 2010 03:59 pm (UTC)
One thing I did like was that even with the circle broken, Dream (apparently) couldn't break free until someone fell asleep in his presence.

Oh, is *that* how that worked?
Dec. 10th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
I think I'm the only one so far who hasn't read Sandman already, at least this volume. But I remember back when it was all the rage and it seemed like perky-goth Death was everywhere. So, I know a few broad strokes which it doesn't make any sense to know yet, but I'm missing all of the details, so this is fun so far.

What I most want to know, after reading the first chapter, is why Dream waited so long to do anything? 70 years or so is a long, long time. Why? Does that ever get answered?

At first I thought that everyone in the world had stopped dreaming when he was put into the magic bubble, and the five or so people we get to hear about serve as touchstones for the greater population. But when reading, I got the vague impression that perhaps life had returned to normal for the rest of the world. Maybe after some decades, normal sleep returned. I don't think that makes much sense, and I could be reading too much into a feeling that the world was more or less going about its own business.

I'm glad you & desdenova mentioned the D.C. angle. I've been pretty much completely ignorant up until now about which is which. A friend lent me a bunch of Elfquest books in high school, and that was it until I read Watchmen in the late 90s. So, I was a little surprised when reading the intro to the book here that everything we've read this past year seems to come from the D.C. side of the fence. Is that because they were either Batman or British sci-fi-ish things, or is there more to the overall D.C. thing? (BTW, wikipedia says D.C. originally stood for "Detective Comics".)

PS. I'm not worried about spoilers; keeping up at all is my goal, so don't split posts in half on my account.
Dec. 10th, 2010 04:22 pm (UTC)
I think he waited that long because that's how long it took someone to fall asleep and give him some avenue of power - it basically took that long for vigilance to get lax enough. Talk about patience, not that he had much choice...

I'm pretty sure life went on as fairly normal for most of the people, perhaps with less orderly dreams than usual or what have you. I'm not sure why those particular people (and the ones like them) were affected so adversely, or if it's ever explained. (I, too, am all forgetty about the details!)

It's a good point about the fact that we've been doing only D.C. (well, except for Understanding Comics which appears to be from a more normal book company, despite the format). I hadn't realized it - I suspect it's because with the exception of Batman, the graphic novel stuff we've done has been non-superhero-y, deeper and darker stuff, and while some of the independents have interesting works along that line, Marvel hasn't, so much. DC on the other hand had a mature line for years, and even when they didn't have that, was more willing to go across the boundaries. We should branch out a bit, though!

Anyhow, I'll probably post a spoiler section for this next post (coming a bit later today), because I just feel bad giving spoilers, even if the people involved say it's okay! (And because there may always be lurkers lurking or people coming by to look later, who don't want spoiled.)
Dec. 12th, 2010 07:08 am (UTC)
I think he waited that long because that's how long it took someone to fall asleep and give him some avenue of power - it basically took that long for vigilance to get lax enough. Talk about patience, not that he had much choice...

Gotcha -- that makes me much happier than thinking he was twiddling his thumbs until the stars aligned. I suspect it also shows what I get for doing reading in dribs & drabs late at night; I remembered the details you all mentioned, I just failed to connect it somehow. Anyway, good, I like explanations.

I'm pretty sure life went on as fairly normal for most of the people, perhaps with less orderly dreams than usual or what have you. I'm not sure why those particular people (and the ones like them) were affected so adversely, or if it's ever explained. (I, too, am all forgetty about the details!)

"Less orderly" seems like a good way to put it; it's not that there's no dreaming or all dreaming, but it's seems random who gets to dream and who doesn't.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 12th, 2010 07:54 am (UTC)
It wasn't until the son was old and feeble, and reliant on his successor (who wasn't a serious magician), that a mistake was made. (The successor wheeling the son's chair over the edge of the circle.)

Thanks, I has missed that part. I remembered the emphasis on sleeping & stimulants, once you all reminded me of it, but I don't remember noticing the wheelchair.

Re: why all this DC stuff? Well, between DC and Marvel, DC has--at least in modern times--been the more diverse publisher. They publish lots of stuff which is not part of their core superhero continuity. i.e. there is a good backlog of stuff which is not ongoing serial adventures, and which is more artistically ambitious. Not just Vertigo, but stuff like Watchmen, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, etc. I can't think of anything similar on the Marvel side. Now, I *have* suggested non-DC, non-Marvel comics/GNs (e.g _Fun Home_), but nobody else has really jumped at them, so.

And Marvel seems to be basically an X-Men-world shop? That was at least my impression from reading about the two companies. After the first X-Men movie came out, I dipped my toe in the water and bought the "Essential" anthology, and then the "Dark Phoenix" one, but that's really about it. I just watched Iron Man 2 a few weeks ago, and found the Hulk and Thor tie-ins to be pretty foreign; I can't help but think that the movies do better with non-comic-immersed geeks like me when they're fairly self-contained. But, we'll see.

Re: you not having read Sandman: How in the world did you manage that?!?! There was a point in time back in college where everybody in our social group was reading it!

I know, I know! Like I said, I remember when they were the hot stuff. I'm pretty sure I have a picture in a box somewhere of vito_excalibur drawing Death on someone's jeans one night...

I dunno, it wasn't really my thing at the time; also, I didn't live in the same dorm as you guys, and so there was a whole other social circle out there. I did try Cerebus, but we all know how that ended, in misogyny and pain. And while I saw Akira in 1990 (in a theater!), I didn't get in to anime until equusregia & Ranma. At least, that's how I remember it. Of course, the way I remember it, I'd also mostly stopped playing video games, except for the occasional Civ type thing, until vespid_interest and jnala showed me FF7 and blew my mind. But the truth must have been more complicated than that, because where does Marathon fit in?
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