Writer: Simon Spurrier / Artist: Abigail Larson / DC Comics
The second major arc of The Dreaming is an unconventional tale of love. Specifically, an all-powerful, all-consuming type of love that managed to sink its teeth into Daniel and start the unravelling of the dream. After spending so much time in the titular location, it feels odd to be grounded in a London hospital, but the charm and fantasy of Spurrier’s writing and Larson’s art reassures that this is very much a Sandman story to remember.
As Rose continues to recount to an unconscious Lucien, Ivy’s courtship of Lord Dream, there is a somber tone and hazy imagery. Spurrier’s exposition can feel dense but rewards a slow methodological parsing and captures a wide spectrum of emotion. He manages to juggle both the frame story and the memories of Ivy with a skillful hand, providing key commentary at just the right moments to show the pensive reflection of Rose. He shows the crumbling of Daniel and Ivy and sets the stage for the larger myth arc in ways that mirror and deviate from the original Dream. It’s some clever storytelling.
However, it’s Larson’s artwork that is my favorite part of the issue. Larson employs two different types of gutters for their panel work: for scenes set in the present, the typical black lines separate panels in relatively near order; for scenes in the past, moments are divided by ethereal smoke, a literal haze of memory. It gives it a certain wistful and magical quality, evoking a type of conjuring that can only come from the sharing of stories. There is a fluidity and grace that Larson gives the characters in true Sandman form.
The Dreaming is not a series you can just walk into. Out of all of the Sandman Universe this is the only one where the prior material is mandatory reading. However, each and every page Spurrier scripts illuminates a bit more of a beloved mythos and explores the facets of our feeble memory and rampant imagination to tell a modern mythological tale.
8.9 “Anecdotes” out of 10
Reading The Dreaming? Check out BNP’s other reviews here.