The Sandman: Endless Nights
Seven years after completing the original Sandman series, Neil Gaiman has returned to his original characters to give them another airing. The Endless are a group of supernatural beings, more powerful than gods, who exist to provide the universe with its essential emotions and experiences. They are in charge of the things that happen to us all, regardless of religion or culture. Dream, the eponymous Sandman of the series, is responsible for those times when we're unconscious. And he has six similarly powerful siblings: Desire, Despair, Delerium (formerly Delight), Destruction, Destiny and Death.
Endless Nights takes each of these characters and tells a story of each. Some of the tales are about the characters themselves and flesh out a bit more information about them. Others are stories about people and things that experience particular events because of the Endless' interference. Fans of the series will notice that these stories are also dotted around in time, both before and potentially after the events of the main body of the series. Casual observers shouldn't feel put off though - the stories on offer in this volume are quite typical of the level of quality we've come to expect from Gaiman, both in his Sandman work and beyond, but they do nothing to exclude the new reader.
The book has its ups and downs, though it's mostly up. Our favourites were the second and third stories, concerning Dream and Desire - perhaps the two key characters from the original series. These are classic Sandman: one featuring a young Dream from the dawn of time, still innocent and carefree; the other showing how bending to the whims of Desire can be a double-edged sword.
The other stories play with time, dialogue, situation and, in the case of Despair's tale, prose. But perhaps most stunning of all is the artwork. Each character has been taken on by a different artist, all of them already comic legends in their own right, and all of them putting in wonderful pieces for this book. It says a lot that, in some of the cases, the artists have proved more than capable of putting Gaiman's writing in the shade.
Endless Nights is a landmark piece of work, not only because of its historical perspective, but because Gaiman has felt able to return to his characters and weave more wonderful yarns around them. Buy the book, sit back and enjoy it for what it is - a blast from the past that remains as fresh today as it was then. With the added bonus of some delicious artwork from all involved.
Comment on this graphic novel review