I actually don’t mind the long delays this title is going through, as it makes each individual issue feel like yet another long-awaited return. Now obviously, the 4 and a half month gap between this and #1 isn’t nearly as long as 10 years, but still, if this title kept to a regular schedule, it wouldn’t feel like as much of an event. I might be making no sense. It’s like latter-day Planetary or something. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter when this comes out, as long as it’s good, and man, it is good. Neil Gaiman has returned to his world with ease, and JH Williams III is just blowing my mind with each page.
This issue begins, surprisingly, in the present day with Dream in his Daniel form deciding randomly to go for a walk in the Dreaming, where he enters the dreams of another familiar face in Mad Hettie. Gaiman fills us in on some of Hettie’s tragic back-story, but the reason Daniel is there is so he can recover a strange, broken pocket-watch. I’m guessing the reason for this will be explained by what Morpheus does in the main story, Dream is always pulling his own strings, even if he doesn’t realise it at the time (who hired Puck and Loki hmm?).
Gaiman then moves back to the main narrative, as Morpheus arrives at the congregation of all the various aspects of Dream, and they try and work out what is happening, and whether they are different people or not. This was a brilliantly written scene, as Gaiman brilliantly manages to write conversations between people who are the same person, yet not. The logic behind the Endless’ various different incarnations is a difficult tightrope, but Gaiman is skilled enough to pull it off. He did it before in the strange way that Daniel both is and isn’t Morpheus, but this is even more complex. Eventually it becomes clear that these are all the same person, and as some of them disappear, we realise that we are just seeing this story from our Dream’s perspective. I think? I don’t know, it’s wonderful dream-logic. The one aspect of Dream who seems able to tell what is going on is a strange hooded eye, who was the Dream of the ‘first created things’, so like, Lovecraftian monsters. But he too eventually disappears.
The reason for every Dream being here is because one aspect of him has been killed, the Plant Dream we saw at the start of #1, so basically, Morpheus has to investigate his own murder here, which is very interesting. Morpheus goes inside his Gem to consult with someone who might be able to help him, Glory, of the First Circle. I’m not sure who this character is, I don’t remember him from the original Sandman series, but he tells Morpheus that somewhere in the Universe a Star has gone mad and that madness is spreading, leading to a War. And somehow, this is all his fault. The mystery here is very cryptic, but it seems to have something to do with the strange, naked woman who we see on the next 2 pages. Does she know Morpheus? This isn’t another vengeful ex-girlfriend is it? Man, Dream is such a dick.
The issue ends with Morpheus preparing to enter the one place he is supposedly forbidden to enter… The Vortex. But he’s not going alone, as The Dream Of Cats is going with him. Again, they are the same entity, so the dialogue between them is very cleverly done. Dream is alone, but he wants someone to talk to, so another aspect is sticking around. The reason for why Morpheus is going into this Vortex is a real surprise as well, as he and the cat are going to see… his father? I didn’t even know The Endless had parents, let alone that we would ever meet one of them. I can’t wait to see what he will be like.
As I said, JH Williams’ art is phenomenal once again, it’s worth the wait for work of this quality. Each page is laid out in a completely new and exciting way, but it never gets in the way of the story at all. Gaiman is writing complex stuff here, especially with the strange nature of Dream’s identity, and Williams matches that. Dave Stewart’s colours are also some of the best I’ve ever seen, there’s so much variety there. I imagine I’ll be poring over these pages many more times in between now and the next issue, whenever that happens.