June 8, 2009

Review: The Sandman #3: Dream Country

Title: The Sandman #3: Dream Country
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrators: Kelley Jones, Charles Vess, Colleen Doran, Malcolm Jones III
Genre: Graphic Novel, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Published: September 1991
Collects Issues: 17 - 20
Pages: 160
Rating: 8 / 10
Challenges: Graphic Novels Challenge, A to Z Reading Challenge, 48 Hour Book Challenge, Dream King Challenge

Synopsis (from the back cover):
The Sandman is the most acclaimed and award-winning comics series of the 1990s for good reason: a smart and deeply brooding epic, elegantly penned by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by a rotating cast of comics' most sought-after artists, it is a rich blend of modern myth and dark fantasy in which contemporary fiction, historical drama, and legend are seamlessly interwoven. The saga of The Sandman encompasses a series of tales unique in graphic literature and is a story you will never forget.

Four chilling and entertaining episodes make up the tapestry that is Dream Country: the World Fantasy Award-winning tale of the first performance of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream; the story of Calliope, a beautiful muse enslaved by a novelist to feed his need for material; a cat's-eye view of the tyranny of mankind; and the final memoir of an immortal, indestructible woman who only wants to die.

My review: Dream Country is way different from The Doll's House. Rather than picking up where the second book left off (which is what I expected), this book contains four stand alone stories featuring Morpheus. Well, three that feature Morpheus and one that features Death. Not that I'm complaining; Death is my favorite Endless, so I was glad she showed back up again, even if I'm not well-versed enough in superhero comicbookland to know who (SPOILER) Element Girl is. Her vignette, "Facade," was sad even without that previous emotional connection. I actually own the single issue "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and had already read that story. It makes a lot more sense being reread now, especially after reading The Doll's House. The other two stories are equally interesting, and both deal with the evilness of men. "A Dream of a Thousand Cats" is great because it's just so different; how many comic books do you know are told from the point of view of a cat? And as for "Calliope," well...it was twisted and creepy, but still amazing.

My only complaints: the book was way too short (only four issues, although my TP did include the annotated script for "Calliope," which was fun to read) and it took the focus away from the main conflict. So now I have to get a copy of Season of Mists to satisfy my curiosity.

Cross-posted to the casual dread and The Dream King Challenge blogs.

If you've reviewed this book as well, leave a message in the comments and I'll link to your review.