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The Absolute Sandman, Volume Four

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One of the most popular and critically acclaimed book titles of all time, New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman's masterpiece The Sandman set new standards for mature, lyrical fantasy and graphic narrative. Now, Vertigo and DC Comics are proud to present the last of four definitive Absolute Editions collecting this groundbreaking series in its entirety. The One of the most popular and critically acclaimed book titles of all time, New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman's masterpiece The Sandman set new standards for mature, lyrical fantasy and graphic narrative. Now, Vertigo and DC Comics are proud to present the last of four definitive Absolute Editions collecting this groundbreaking series in its entirety. The Absolute Sandman, Volume Four reprints issues 57-75 of The Sandman and features an introduction by Karen Berger, editor of the original series and founder of the Vertigo imprint. This volume also includes a survey of exquisite memorabilia from the Dreaming, the original script and thumbnails by Gaiman and artist Marc Hempel for the first part of "The Kindly Ones" from The Sandman 57, and the complete script by Gaiman for the title's final issue, together with thumbnails, pencils, and paintings by artist Charles Vess.


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One of the most popular and critically acclaimed book titles of all time, New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman's masterpiece The Sandman set new standards for mature, lyrical fantasy and graphic narrative. Now, Vertigo and DC Comics are proud to present the last of four definitive Absolute Editions collecting this groundbreaking series in its entirety. The One of the most popular and critically acclaimed book titles of all time, New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman's masterpiece The Sandman set new standards for mature, lyrical fantasy and graphic narrative. Now, Vertigo and DC Comics are proud to present the last of four definitive Absolute Editions collecting this groundbreaking series in its entirety. The Absolute Sandman, Volume Four reprints issues 57-75 of The Sandman and features an introduction by Karen Berger, editor of the original series and founder of the Vertigo imprint. This volume also includes a survey of exquisite memorabilia from the Dreaming, the original script and thumbnails by Gaiman and artist Marc Hempel for the first part of "The Kindly Ones" from The Sandman 57, and the complete script by Gaiman for the title's final issue, together with thumbnails, pencils, and paintings by artist Charles Vess.

30 review for The Absolute Sandman, Volume Four

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    It's Sandman, it's Gaiman, it's good to great throughout. Please see my previous reviews of 1-3 for more in depth reasoning. xD It's Sandman, it's Gaiman, it's good to great throughout. Please see my previous reviews of 1-3 for more in depth reasoning. xD

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    And thus ends Sandman. I know there's another annotated volume but the stories in it were written years later. The Kindly Ones does go on a few issues too long and Marc Hempel's oddball art takes some time to get used to. I do wish some of the questions left unanswered, we had some closure to. Still, it's a good end for Morpheus. The 4 issues of The Wake might be my favorite issues of the entire series. I love how it's hinted that everyone who dreams is in attendance at Morpheus's funeral. Micha And thus ends Sandman. I know there's another annotated volume but the stories in it were written years later. The Kindly Ones does go on a few issues too long and Marc Hempel's oddball art takes some time to get used to. I do wish some of the questions left unanswered, we had some closure to. Still, it's a good end for Morpheus. The 4 issues of The Wake might be my favorite issues of the entire series. I love how it's hinted that everyone who dreams is in attendance at Morpheus's funeral. Michael Zulli's art is stunningly beautiful and detailed. Ending with Hob was a great ending for the book. I wish Gaiman had ended the series there. The Chinese proverb story and Shakespeare's story of The Tempest don't do much for me at all. Like the other annotated volumes, there's a ton of back material here. It's a little less interesting than the others. It mostly consists of 2 scripts with layouts. Seeing all the merchandise that's been made for the series was really neat though.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Appelcline

    I thought that “The Kindly Ones” was too long when I originally read it, but that was over two years or so in floppies. It holds together really well as a complete work, though the first half does still drag a bit. I think that offering closure to both Rose’s story and Morpheus’ is well done … though I’m less convinced of the importance of Delirium in all of this. Overall the story is really well structured and does a great job of bringing home to roost everything that Morpheus has done since he I thought that “The Kindly Ones” was too long when I originally read it, but that was over two years or so in floppies. It holds together really well as a complete work, though the first half does still drag a bit. I think that offering closure to both Rose’s story and Morpheus’ is well done … though I’m less convinced of the importance of Delirium in all of this. Overall the story is really well structured and does a great job of bringing home to roost everything that Morpheus has done since he returned to life, and the ending is very moving. I also find that I liked Mark Hempel’s abstract art much more than when I first saw it years ago [9+/10]. The Wake is a stunningly gorgeous comic that also does a good job of tying together many of the characters from the entire epic [9/10], however it’s Hob’s epilogue that really knocks it out of the park. Him visiting a Ren Faire is hilarious, and him thinking about Dream is tearfully touching [10/10]. “Exiles” is a very unusual story, but also a thoughtful one [8/10]. The parallels between The Tempest and Sandman are moving, and one understands why Gaiman choose it to end the series. I think I’m not enough of a Shakespeare fan to consider it a masterpiece, however [8/10]. As usual, there’s great extras in this book, particularly all the pictures of cool toys and statues and stuff.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shuprova

    Genuinely depressed that this is over. Sandman was just one of those reading experiences, where you can't wait to find out what happens next but you're worried that you'll finish it too soon. It's been a while that I read a book where I was completely immersed in a new world, so much so that I wish I didn't have to go back to mine! I'm not much of a graphic novel reader so I didn't expect to have this reaction with Sandman but I was totally wrong. Gaiman really shows the depth of his imagination Genuinely depressed that this is over. Sandman was just one of those reading experiences, where you can't wait to find out what happens next but you're worried that you'll finish it too soon. It's been a while that I read a book where I was completely immersed in a new world, so much so that I wish I didn't have to go back to mine! I'm not much of a graphic novel reader so I didn't expect to have this reaction with Sandman but I was totally wrong. Gaiman really shows the depth of his imagination, as well as his skill as a storyteller, and he's definitely on my list of favourite writers for coming up with this beauty. Speaking of beauty, Dave McKean's covers are to die for. As for the books, the Absolute editions are totally worth the money. The print is amazing and the books themselves are gorgeous.

  5. 4 out of 5

    M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews

    This particular volume of the Absolute Sandman collects some very climactic series, and I can say that the Sandman overall was and still is a truly memorable series and absolutely a graphic novel that plenty of people should enjoy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nigel

    I read a third of this last night with a mug of cider and a few chunks of coffee cake. I got up at five this morning and came downstairs to finish it. The house was dark and I didn't turn on the light in the living room because I didn't want to disturb the dog, so I felt my way down the stairs in my stockinged feet. The door into the bedroom opened and closed behind me, and I stopped, and waited. 'Hello?' I said. 'Daddy,' said a sleepy six-year-old voice right behind me I wasn't mad keen on the I read a third of this last night with a mug of cider and a few chunks of coffee cake. I got up at five this morning and came downstairs to finish it. The house was dark and I didn't turn on the light in the living room because I didn't want to disturb the dog, so I felt my way down the stairs in my stockinged feet. The door into the bedroom opened and closed behind me, and I stopped, and waited. 'Hello?' I said. 'Daddy,' said a sleepy six-year-old voice right behind me I wasn't mad keen on the idea of a sleepy six year old going down the stairs in the pitch black of an early winter morning, but I couldn't go past him to get to the light and leave him alone, so together we went slowly downwards in our stockinged feet. Nicky sat at one end of the table while I filled the kettle and prepared the porridge and made my coffee, then I sat down at the other end with my pot of coffee and a cup and Sandman volume four. 'We must be very quiet,' said Nicky. 'We mustn't make any noise or we will wake Martin and he will be cross.' Martin's a sort of lodger. He's very nice and I don't think he'd get cross, but Nicky was right, we must be very quiet. I started to read. I think Neil Gaiman wrote at night a lot, so it felt appropriate to be reading this at five in the morning. There wasn't a storm lashing the windows with wind and rain, though I noticed later it was foggy, but that was later. I didn't notice Nicky go back upstairs. I was vaguely aware of Eddie getting up and moving around upstairs. I didn't notice the morning getting brighter, dimming the glare of the lights. At some various I did stir the porridge and turn the heat up and yell at the boys to come down and eat and for Eddie to walk the dog and I left the table long enough to take Annemarie's up on a tray and made some Van Morrison jokes. ('Have I told you lately that I love you?' 'Yes, but you haven't told me there's no-one above me.' '...can't remember what comes next.' 'I fill your bowl with porridge? Take away your.... bowl... with no more porridge?' 'You make my breakfast that's what you do.') Breakfast runs automatically now, and nothing spoils a morning read like burnt porridge. So I finished it. I didn't want it to finish, but it did. Poor Lyta Hall. Poor Dream. Poor Clara. Poor everyone. It really was all about death, wasn't it? The story resolves in The Kindly Ones, but the real emotional climax is The Wake. Death and grief and loss and mourning and then waking up and moving on as best you can. (At some point Eddie sat down to eat his breakfast and said: 'Oh, there's a hair in my porridge. Good thing it isn't a rabbit. Eh? Eh?') I seem to remember Marc Hempel's art not being popular with everyone. I may have been unsure of it myself at first, but God, it's amazing. And Mike Zulli on the wake, and John J Muth and then holy moley Charles Vess reprising older, wiser, sadder Shakespeare in The Tempest. The unresolved mystery of who Puck and Loki were really working for lingers. None of my own theories really fit properly, and I guess I appreciate leaving one thing unknown and possibly unknowable to haunt and nag the reader. I do hope it has a solution though - if there was no solution to the mystery, even if we never discover what it is, that would be a cheat. I think reading The Sandman may have been the one thing I ever did that was cool, and I didn't do it because it was cool, I did it because I loved it, and it became cool for a while. I'm not sure anyone noticed me doing this cool thing while it was cool, but maybe that's what's cool about it. I still have Overture to read, which I'll get to tonight, and then there's assorted extras like The Dream Hunters and the Death collection and Books Of Magic, which is only vaguely related, which I'll get to eventually. At some point I might try to write something about the whole series from beginning to end, but not now, which is why this review is mostly about me going downstairs in the dark in my stockings with my six year old son behind me like a little familiar spirit. I can go back and read Sandman again, but moments like that come and go, and I'd like to be able to recall it long after it would be forgotten if I hadn't written it here. Try to remember things, and tell your stories, and be remembered.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Baal Of

    It was roughly 25 years ago I first read this series in the original run of graphic novels. Back then, this story affected me deeply, and changed the way I viewed the possibilities of what comic books could be. It set me on a lifelong love of Gaiman's writing. Now, all these years later, I'm overwhelmed by how great this story is, how deep are the emotions it evokes in me. I've been sitting here for 15 minutes trying to figure out how to express what this book means to me, and I keep failing. Th It was roughly 25 years ago I first read this series in the original run of graphic novels. Back then, this story affected me deeply, and changed the way I viewed the possibilities of what comic books could be. It set me on a lifelong love of Gaiman's writing. Now, all these years later, I'm overwhelmed by how great this story is, how deep are the emotions it evokes in me. I've been sitting here for 15 minutes trying to figure out how to express what this book means to me, and I keep failing. This is simply one of the greatest graphic novels ever written.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    Well, this series fizzled. Wasn't too invested in it to begin with, I'm moreso happy that I can finally cross this off the to-read list. YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads Well, this series fizzled. Wasn't too invested in it to begin with, I'm moreso happy that I can finally cross this off the to-read list. YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Birss

    I have just attended the wake of a character I first met about two years ago. I did not grieve, in the sense of experiencing feelings of sadness. But I did ponder the journey of this character and my relationship with him and his world. When I began reading The Sandman a couple of years ago, I did so with great anticipation for this most highly lauded of continuing comics stories. With the first two volumes, I could see how far the creators were reaching. With so much good said about the series, I have just attended the wake of a character I first met about two years ago. I did not grieve, in the sense of experiencing feelings of sadness. But I did ponder the journey of this character and my relationship with him and his world. When I began reading The Sandman a couple of years ago, I did so with great anticipation for this most highly lauded of continuing comics stories. With the first two volumes, I could see how far the creators were reaching. With so much good said about the series, I was sure that before the end, they would surely grasp that for which they reached. If so, I was experiencing the great potential of the story as I began it, even if I never felt that the book was truly reaching it. Now I close the back cover over the final page of this epic, which I finished in a third of the time it originally took to be published. With these final two collected stories, I believe that Gaiman and his collaborators came the closest to attaining the great heights for which they reached in this highly ambitious tale. Of all that I read in the series, this was my favourite. Still, I do not believe that the book ever fully succeeded at everything it intended to do. Now, when I consider my thoughts on a book, I try to rate it in its own context. Therefore, I may rate a piece of grocery store pulp fiction as highly as a book by Steinbeck. But this does not make the two equal. So, this may be the height of Sandman's story, here as the story ends, and I may find it imperfect. But for a book that aimed so high, even to not reach that height, it still soars higher than most. These final chapters of the story of The Sandman, Morpheus, The Dream Lord of The Endless, deal with death, and loss, and change, and the cycle of life. Morpheus has come around over the first more than fifty issues of his episodic tale, and now knows his limits in a way he did not at the beginning. He understands consequences to his actions, even in the world of dreams, that he did not know when we first met him. The arc is satisfying. Now, he must die in order to change. A new Dream Lord, who is still the Dream Lord, must continue past him. In his passing, we have opportunity to visit many of the characters whom he touched over the run of the entire series. Members of his family, The Endless, are given voice, as are most everyone else we have met of any significance. Since the wake for Morpheus occurs in the Dream World, and all who dream are invited, the reader is also present. My own experience reading these pages is that I did feel as though I had entered the book, and was experiencing the wake with these other characters, in ways I have never before felt so immersed in a comic. It was very well done, and quite moving. My complaint with this book, though less than any before it, is with the art. Unfortunately it took until Book 8 for me to realize that there are "remastered" versions of all of The Sandman volumes. Some that I read were these recoloured versions. Some were not. I cannot know if I would have enjoyed the entire series more from the very beginning if I had been reading these updated versions. As it was, and is, I have struggled to penetrate the illustrations in this series from the very beginning. There were times when I felt I was simply enduring it, art that was actually ugly to look at. When the art was so bad that I couldn't enjoy looking at the pages, how could it not completely obfuscate the meaning and tone and flow of the story it portrayed? This is a collaborative medium. If plot, character, and world are all gorgeously rendered in script, but sloppily presented, I cannot call the finished product good. That said, this last collection was the most beautiful, and the most consistent, of the entire series. I never prefer to read any series with a rotation of illustrators, especially when they change in the middle of stories, as they often did in this long running limited series. But in this final collection, we have fewer artists, who are used in such a way as to not interrupt the flow of the narrative. This I appreciated. The illustrations for The Wake were actually my favourite of the entire series. Were I given opportunity to read again from the beginning with this illustrator only, I would read the entire series again, and maybe have a better experience. I recognize that The Sandman broke serious ground in the world of comics. We're it not for The Sandman, perhaps we would not have books like Saga today. After extremely heavily plotted books such as The Watchmen by Alan Moore, and violence and pessimism were turned way up in books like Frank Millers The Dark Knight Returns, it is nice that the next wave of "adult" comics contained something as thoughtful and feminine and mysterious and creative as The Sandman. It needed to be. When I read it and consider the teenager I was when it was released, I know that that young man would have loved this series, had he discovered it on the shelf when it was first being published. It would have been good for me. The explorations of gender and sexuality, and the relationships of life and longing and death and expression were exactly where I lived as a sad, black-clad, nail-polish-wearing teen in the nineties. But it isn't the nineties anymore. And I can appreciate everything that The Sandman gave us so that I can enjoy Monstress today without having to pretend that it is as perfect a book as everyone says. Even Neil Gaiman has improved as a writer since this series was first published. Much that I am enjoying as I read American Gods can be found in the pages of this comic, in a lesser form. I still prefer the greater form. My absolute favourite thing about this entire series has been the covers and the design by Dave McKean. It does not surprise me a whit that this book was so collectable in single issues when it was first on the shelves. These covers are true things of beauty. For all the harm that was done to the story in the inconsistency of art within, the consistency of these designs on the covers must have helped ameliorate the damage in the original floppies. Had I seen these books on the top shelves of my local comics shop when I was in high school, rather than being distracted as I was by Spider-Man's clone saga, I'm sure I would have been transfixed. I am therefore very excited for the arrival of my special edition of American Gods in the mail, which should arrive any day now. This late Christmas present from my father and mother in law is designed and illustrated by Dave McKean. His collaboration with Gaiman raises the work of them both. So, I close the book on The Sandman. I am not sorry to do so. As much as I did enjoy this final volume, I know the effort it took to get here. These impact of these stories rests heavily on all that came before it. I did not enjoy much that came before it. Therefore, I do not recommend this series to any casual reader. There is so much more in comics now that does what The Sandman tried to do in its day, but so much better. Neil Gaiman has grown and improved as a writer since these books were finished. I would point anyone to any of what came from this work before I would ever point them to this work. However, for anyone who has read and loved Neil Gaiman's more recent work, I might cautiously suggest checking out this series. To those readers, I would insist that they find the highest quality version of the books that they can, to read the books in print, not digitally, and to make sure they read the remastered/recoloured version. Similarly, to avid readers of creator-owned comics of the 21st Century, I might carefully suggest that they might enjoy exploring some of the first of what gave us the room for the vast array of choices in the world of comics today. To any reader of The Sandman, I would warn that if the art is a hindrance to your enjoyment at the beginning, it will be a long, long time before it ceases to be so. I am thankful for this book, and this series. But I won't read it again. ☠ The Sandman. Volume 9, The Kindly Ones Trade Paperback - 320 pages Fully Remastered Edition (Matching Absolute Edition Volume 4) Vertigo, 2012 Various artists Covers by Dave McKean and The Sandman. Volume 10, The Wake Trade Paperback - 187 pages Fully Remastered Edition (Matching Absolute Edition Volume 4) Vertigo, 2012 Illustrated by Michael Zulli, Jon Muth, Charles Vess Covers by Dave McKean Four Stars January 3, 2018 - January 8, 2018 ☠

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ken Yuen

    Wait, volume 4 is THAT storyline for Sandman? I was not expecting that. I was into the mystery of who took Lyta Hall's son and everything that was related, but they never really explain why the culprits did it? Stuff just sort of happens and a side character just dies senselessly, and that's a little unsatisfying. The story with Hob going to the Ren Faire was great. Wait, volume 4 is THAT storyline for Sandman? I was not expecting that. I was into the mystery of who took Lyta Hall's son and everything that was related, but they never really explain why the culprits did it? Stuff just sort of happens and a side character just dies senselessly, and that's a little unsatisfying. The story with Hob going to the Ren Faire was great.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    The stories were fantastic. This was one of the very best ends to a series ever, as much as I didn't want it to end. Really masterful and surprisingly satisfying. The two story arcs, The Kindly Ones and The Wake, were perfect. It left me feeling OK with the ending instead of depressed that it was over, quite a feat. The extra pieces that were included at the end were OK. I think they included them because if you're collecting the entire Absolute everything of the series they need to actually inc The stories were fantastic. This was one of the very best ends to a series ever, as much as I didn't want it to end. Really masterful and surprisingly satisfying. The two story arcs, The Kindly Ones and The Wake, were perfect. It left me feeling OK with the ending instead of depressed that it was over, quite a feat. The extra pieces that were included at the end were OK. I think they included them because if you're collecting the entire Absolute everything of the series they need to actually include everything at some point, and the fifth volume would too huge with all of that in there, and this one would have seemed too small without some additional stuff included. But it would have been more effective to just end with the end of The Wake, the other stuff was a distraction. That wasn't important though. The reason I took a star off was because I didn't like the art in a most of the book. Hempel and Disraeli weren't my cup of tea. The characters were flat, not expressive, looked juvenile. I'm not going to go on and on about something that came out that long ago, but I didn't enjoy it. And the colors were off too. Just look at Carla, sometimes she looked African-America and sometimes Italian. But the stories were wonderful.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    As positive as I've been about the rest of the series, I must confess that "The Kindly Ones" is one of those stories where stopping just isn't an option. I made the mistake of starting it late at night, and, as a result, I couldn't stop myself from staying awake until I reached the beginning of "The Wake." To say that Gaiman is masterful at pulling together all the disparate, loose threads found in the previous fifty-odd issues is an understatement, and the story he creates is both cosmically epi As positive as I've been about the rest of the series, I must confess that "The Kindly Ones" is one of those stories where stopping just isn't an option. I made the mistake of starting it late at night, and, as a result, I couldn't stop myself from staying awake until I reached the beginning of "The Wake." To say that Gaiman is masterful at pulling together all the disparate, loose threads found in the previous fifty-odd issues is an understatement, and the story he creates is both cosmically epic and intimate at the same time. And as for "The Wake" ... well, it doesn't really compare, but it's an elegant denouement, and beautifully drawn. It's not nearly as compelling a read, but it feels necessary, at the very least.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Finished the series! I'm glad I read it. Finished the series! I'm glad I read it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Johansson

    Perfect ending to the story. Pure genius, both the writing and the art.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rumi Bossche

    4.5 stars for me. I had such a blast reading this series, and with the last one everything came together in a almost perfect ending, but after the last ending came a little short story, wich i did not really as an ending, still this is one of the best reading experiences of the year, if your a fan of Graphic Novels, i highly recommend this. Also shout out to my raven Matthew ! hillarious.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    The 4th and final volume of Gaiman's Sandman. The 4th and final volume of Gaiman's Sandman.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mr Shahabi

    Gaiman's world is Melancholic and beautiful, his characters have a very nihilistic features yet a deep appreciation for life and the code of principles which they and entities before them built If not for The Tempest, this would have a brilliant 5 stars hands down, the Kindly Ones story line was amazing and engaging. While the EXILES was my favorite from this collection Drink Tea Gaiman's world is Melancholic and beautiful, his characters have a very nihilistic features yet a deep appreciation for life and the code of principles which they and entities before them built If not for The Tempest, this would have a brilliant 5 stars hands down, the Kindly Ones story line was amazing and engaging. While the EXILES was my favorite from this collection Drink Tea

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kishor

    Somehow I did not enjoy this as much as the first three volumes. I think, perhaps, I'm not a fan of endings... but now the million dollar question is: what's in volume five?? Somehow I did not enjoy this as much as the first three volumes. I think, perhaps, I'm not a fan of endings... but now the million dollar question is: what's in volume five??

  19. 4 out of 5

    Basilius

    You lived what anybody gets, Bernie. You got a lifetime. No more. No less. Though labeled a “series” with 75+ issues spanning from 1989 to 1996, it is more fitting to call Neil Gaiman’s Sandman a comic book epic. At its core is an anthology of imaginative stories (think A Thousand and One Nights) that dangle from a larger arc. This arc, which lends the work its title, orbits an entity called Dream, or Morpheus, who manages the dreams and stories of all organisms (conveniently located on Earth). You lived what anybody gets, Bernie. You got a lifetime. No more. No less. Though labeled a “series” with 75+ issues spanning from 1989 to 1996, it is more fitting to call Neil Gaiman’s Sandman a comic book epic. At its core is an anthology of imaginative stories (think A Thousand and One Nights) that dangle from a larger arc. This arc, which lends the work its title, orbits an entity called Dream, or Morpheus, who manages the dreams and stories of all organisms (conveniently located on Earth). He is one of seven “Endless” siblings who regulate different D’s of existence: Destiny, Death, Dreams, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium. They feature occasionally, but the focus is on Dream: his growth, death and rebirth. Morpheus’ overarching story was my least favorite part of reading Sandman; in fact, I read the entire series a second time just to make sure I didn’t miss something. My feelings were the same, and I couldn’t even finish the last act “The Kindly Ones.” My complaint is that Dream’s arc is less profound than many of the minor stories within the anthology, making the whole less than its parts. It’s also inconsistent. Sandman begins with Dream being captured and imprisoned by humans for 70 years, and this is seminal to both the plot and Dream’s personal evolution. But as the story unfolds we see that his development occurred well before this event, and while Gaiman may have intended some Tarantino-esque chronology, it just made me feel like I was reading different Morpheus characters at different times. He oscillated between an obtuse callousness (masquerading as cosmic aloofness) and a kind of profound wisdom that reflected his duty as keeper of dreams and myths. He should have grown more empathetically intelligent as the story progressed—and in fairness he does—but it was random, repetitive, and at times regressive. I wanted something smoother. Where I think Sandman shines is in the isolated short stories that compose the bulk of the epic. There are too many good ones to celebrate, but the best include: A world run by cats, a man who thinks he’s the emperor of America, Lucifer quitting his job, a man who finds himself in a city’s dream, a convention of serial killers, Shakespeare giving a play to fairies, rogue dreams (and the cuckoo), a Parliament of Rooks, and my favorite, “Ramadan,” where Caliph Harun al-Rashid anguishes over the wonder of medieval Baghdad. It’s one of my most cherished short stories ever. These are just a few of the many exquisite tales packaged in this sprawling, but flawed, magnum opus. In other words, there are enough berries littered in the underbrush to justify reading the whole thing. And don’t think much of the fact that it takes place in the DC Universe and a few superheroes are thrown in: you know some of the big ones and it doesn’t matter if you don’t know the others. As I mentioned before, Sandman is an illustrated Thousand and One Nights, and with many superior stories to boot. If you enjoy that, and don’t mind a mediocre tapestry keeping the threads together, then this gets a recommendation. But if you don’t much care for berries, or came wearing shorts, there are better books to scrape your legs on.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Miriam

    I read books backwards when I am upset. I have never actually admitted that before because I always feel guilty when I do it. With good books, it turns out that it doesn't matter much if a book is read forward or backward. I mean, of course if alters the flow of the story, but there are still plot development, character development, and suspense. Sometimes books are less predictable when read backwards because instead of things leading up to an outcome, one wonders what would cause a character t I read books backwards when I am upset. I have never actually admitted that before because I always feel guilty when I do it. With good books, it turns out that it doesn't matter much if a book is read forward or backward. I mean, of course if alters the flow of the story, but there are still plot development, character development, and suspense. Sometimes books are less predictable when read backwards because instead of things leading up to an outcome, one wonders what would cause a character to do something. I read this book backwards and it is my favorite Sandman by far. It would have been if I had read it forwards and I did try to read it forwards, but I just couldn't. I had been dropped off by a guy after a fairly boring and uncomfortable date. He invited himself into my house and then wouldn't leave. He was clearly getting more upset while he was in my house and conversation kept getting worse and worse and he kept finding more excuses to stay. I told him that I had other things to be doing and requested that he leave, but he refused saying that he would only stay a few minutes more. At one point, he got up to look at my books and as he did he glanced at the windows in my living room. With a little jolt of adrenaline, I thought "The next thing he is going to do is ask for a tour of the house so he can get me away from those windows." And that was actually the next thing he did. Not a chance, I hadn't finished unpacking yet. I finally got him to leave by 1. pretending that I was interested in seeing him again, and 2. getting interrupted by a call from my mom (Hallelujah) which broke him out of his contemplative mood as I explained to her exactly where I was and who I was with. As soon as I hung up the phone, he left. Super creepy though. I was also worrying about my vision exam today. I made the mistake of going online and looking up possible reasons for it sometimes seeming like the lights flicker off when they don't. I figured I'd be getting a spinal tap and an MRI. I don't want either. (I laid out the whole year of improving brain function to the doctor and cried a bit. The opthamologist handed me tissues, did extensive visual field testing, discussed the possibility of seizures, ruled those out, found no evidence supporting the theory of a tumor, and then found optic nerve head drusen and said that those could explain everything with my vision. As long as nothing gets worse, he says I am fine and I have get an MRI if the dim bit start lasting more than an instant. He also mentioned that most people are happy when they are getting better. I told him I was happy, but that having stuff changing in your brain is scary even when it is good.) So, I was on edge over the weekend, feeling creeped out and overly worried about my health (which is sort of normal for me when something is a little wrong). I did the only thing that made sense which was to start reading Sandman, albeit, backwards. It made me feel better and relax a bit. My favorite parts were whenever Delirium showed up, especially the parts with the fish. I also liked Lyta and Rose. The female characters really stood out as excellent.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Gordon

    And so it comes to the end... The first half of this final volume of the Absolute editions is the story of The Kindly Ones. Remember poor Hippolyta? She finally leaves Daniel with a sitter one night, but of course this means he is kidnapped. The police tells her that they found a body and Hippolyta undergoes a bit of a mental break. She goes on a quest to the Kindly Ones, wanting revenge against Dream as she is sure that he is responsible for her son's death. As Dream killed his son in the previo And so it comes to the end... The first half of this final volume of the Absolute editions is the story of The Kindly Ones. Remember poor Hippolyta? She finally leaves Daniel with a sitter one night, but of course this means he is kidnapped. The police tells her that they found a body and Hippolyta undergoes a bit of a mental break. She goes on a quest to the Kindly Ones, wanting revenge against Dream as she is sure that he is responsible for her son's death. As Dream killed his son in the previous volume, the Furies are allowed by the rules of the universe to hunt him down. Dream tries to outwit them, but all his plans fail. Or do they? On one hand, much of what happens this issue was orchestrated by Desire, but a lot of Dream's actions seem to be self sabotage as well. This is a weary entity that is pushed to his limits. And in the end, he dies. Yep. This entire series has been leading up to the death of Dream. Of course Dream can't really die, but an aspect of him can. And Daniel? Well, he's not dead, but now he's the new Dream. He looks like the old Dream except he's alabaster white instead of night sky black. If you were reading this series when it originally came out, I can't imagine what the shock would have been like to have the main character actually die. It's an emotional set of issues with strange, stark art that hasn't been used in the series yet. The pacing is excellent (Gaiman benefited from being able to change the length of his trades a bit so stories were never shoved into 4-6 issue formats unless they fit), and the story just so satisfying, albeit also heart wrenching. But Dream's death is not the end. There must be a wake and this is one of my favourite parts of the series. The art work is stunning. The pages are incredibly detailed and all done in pencils, not ink. The whole purpose of these final issues is to allow people to say goodbye to Dream. It's beautiful, solemn, and a perfect way to reflect on Dream's life. Well, maybe not perfect as Gaiman had a couple more issues to go. My favourite of the three is one dealing with Hob at a Ren Faire. He considers death, given his fatigue with life and history, but decides to go on. It's a powerful juxtaposition to Dream's story. There's another short about an exiled Chinese man who accepts his punishment even when offered a way out by Daniel, and finally, the final Shakespeare story. If Midsummer Night's Dream was written for the fae, The Tempest was written for Dream. Gaiman suggests many connections between the famous play and his character's innermost thoughts, and it provides a thoughtful end to a 75 issue series. And there you go... the end of one of the most influential graphic novels out there. Should you read it? Yes! There are thousands of allusions to classic literature and myth, a truly creative and interesting world, and Gaiman tells some really good stories. Don't let the mostly lackluster art turn you off. Sandman is an excellent series that any comic lover, and really anyone who loves SFF, should read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alazzar

    I gave all previous volumes of The Absolute Sandman four stars, because that’s what I felt they deserved. Volume Four is a little different, in that it deserves somewhere between 65 and 80 stars, not to mention three medals, two trophies and a monument. Holy crap, this book was amazing. We start off with “The Castle,” which is a shorter story from Vertigo Jam #1 that basically takes the reader on a tour of the dreaming. It’s not really necessary to anyone who’s been keeping up with the series, but I gave all previous volumes of The Absolute Sandman four stars, because that’s what I felt they deserved. Volume Four is a little different, in that it deserves somewhere between 65 and 80 stars, not to mention three medals, two trophies and a monument. Holy crap, this book was amazing. We start off with “The Castle,” which is a shorter story from Vertigo Jam #1 that basically takes the reader on a tour of the dreaming. It’s not really necessary to anyone who’s been keeping up with the series, but it’s still bloody fantastic and is more than worth reading. Then we get to “The Kindly Ones,” which is the greatest story arc ever to appear in The Sandman, or possibly any comic EVER. (Not that I’ve read a whole lot of comics, but still—there’s something to be said about a storyline that can give Watchmen a run for its money.) I’d always complained about how so many Sandman stories revolved around characters that really had nothing to do with Morpheus or the Endless, but “The Kindly Ones” erases all that. EVERYONE is brought back at one point or another—every character that you thought would mean nothing after their particular storyline was over, every character you’ve forgotten about because it’s been so long since you read about them in issue #7, shows up in “The Kindly Ones.” It was amazing to see it all come together. Neil Gaiman is a freakin’ master. Then we get to “The Wake,” which is brilliant and beautiful and sad and lovely, and whose third chapter displays the greatest use of second-person perspective since Ken Liu’s “The Tome of Tourmaline.” (Though I guess “The Wake” came first by 17 years, so maybe it’s the other way around. But whatever.) Then, sadly, the series goes on for two issues too long. It’s not that the last two issues are bad, it’s just that they seemed like filler that someone decided to add because ending on issue #75 sounded much better than issue #73. There was just so much finality at the end of “The Wake” that it seemed weird to do a pair of standalone stories after that. (Though I guess one could argue that “The Tempest” wasn’t really standalone, but still, I feel it could have just as easily been placed earlier in the series so we could end on “The Wake.”) In the end, after seeing how “The Kindly Ones” brought all the characters of the series together so seamlessly, I feel like a huge asshole for giving the previous volumes of The Absolute Sandman anything less than five stars. I bet if I read ‘em again, now that I know how things end, my opinion would probably change. But until then, they’ll just have to sit at 4 stars, while this final volume wallows in its 65-80 stars, three medals, two trophies and a monument—all of which are well deserved.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Richard Wright

    For all the world-building and storyweaving, the resonance and layers, for a myth to become epic, it has to end. Gaiman is clearly a student of myth and legend, and knows this well. So it was that Sandman had to resolve. It's an incredible conclusion, pulling strands from across the five year run of the comic together, some obvious, some obscure, and building an inevitable end for Morpheus, the lord of dreams. Like the grand, enduring sagas it has joined, Sandman's ending is tragic, painful, and For all the world-building and storyweaving, the resonance and layers, for a myth to become epic, it has to end. Gaiman is clearly a student of myth and legend, and knows this well. So it was that Sandman had to resolve. It's an incredible conclusion, pulling strands from across the five year run of the comic together, some obvious, some obscure, and building an inevitable end for Morpheus, the lord of dreams. Like the grand, enduring sagas it has joined, Sandman's ending is tragic, painful, and heroic. It's devastating, and also uplifting, with change and renewal threaded through the final arc. It closes a story that feels both old and new, bigger than the reader, a story of rare, beautiful power. I loved it, and can't wait to start it again.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe Jeziel

    I now feel empty on the inside.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Wade

    How do you wrap up a series like this? This is the fourth and final volume of a series that spanned millennia and dimensions, through the course we have met William Shakespeare, G. K. Chesterton, Batman, the Emperor of America, Cain and Able, Odin, Lucifer, Puck, many more, not I mention the Dreamlord's own family: Destiny, Death Destruction, Desire, Despair, Delusion (or Delight). The stories took place all throughout history, inside various fairy tales or other well known stories, in the realm How do you wrap up a series like this? This is the fourth and final volume of a series that spanned millennia and dimensions, through the course we have met William Shakespeare, G. K. Chesterton, Batman, the Emperor of America, Cain and Able, Odin, Lucifer, Puck, many more, not I mention the Dreamlord's own family: Destiny, Death Destruction, Desire, Despair, Delusion (or Delight). The stories took place all throughout history, inside various fairy tales or other well known stories, in the realm of Dream (as well as the realms of his family members), and in Hell. At different times Gaimain plays with different story telling styles and utilizes a wide range of artists' styles. There were times, through this series, that seemed to meander aimlessly (if delightfully), but in this final volume, so many of the meanderings were wrapped up and brought to a conclusion of thought. There were characters from previous volumes that seemed in the periphery, but here they have shown to have primary roles; it is mind boggling. So how do you end a series that is about a timeless being, the Lord of Dreams? The answer is: exactly like this! I love how he wraps things up, comes to a solid conclusion and yet still leaves the imagination to go wild with what could happen next? As much as I loved the wrap up, I thought it was the epilogue that made it perfect, and again, it wraps back around and revisits an early episode where Dream made a deal with William Shakespeare. This series is strange, imaginative, disturbing, thought provoking, beautiful, horrifying, and though it takes some getting into, most enjoyable. I will revisit this series and I think this volume was the best of them (though I make one caveat, that the artwork was far from my favorite)

  26. 5 out of 5

    CC

    I have owned The Sandman in almost every iteration, from the original monthly comic books to softbound 'graphic novel' collected works. With Absolute Sandman, I will never need another copy as they are simply beautiful. Each large leather bound tome is encased in a matching sleeve with artwork by the legendary Dave McKean. His distinctive stylings are further reproduced on each cover, with attractive stamped detail and silver lettering. Whether you are an old fan or a newcomer, I can't recommend I have owned The Sandman in almost every iteration, from the original monthly comic books to softbound 'graphic novel' collected works. With Absolute Sandman, I will never need another copy as they are simply beautiful. Each large leather bound tome is encased in a matching sleeve with artwork by the legendary Dave McKean. His distinctive stylings are further reproduced on each cover, with attractive stamped detail and silver lettering. Whether you are an old fan or a newcomer, I can't recommend this set of books highly enough. They are still as fresh and immersive today as the first time I found them, and stand up well as the pinnacle of the author's storytelling powers. I'll forever be appreciative of Neil Gaiman's other work but for me The Sandman is a true legacy. Volume Four begins with a foreword by Karen Berger, creator of the Vertigo imprint for DC Comics. It was her belief in an untried comic book writer named Neil Gaiman who made all of this possible. Following the events of Brief Lives, this book pulls us straight into the Kindly Ones story arc, where Morpheus must confront the Furies for his crimes. The threads that the reader has patiently followed through all preceding issues come to a stunning conclusion, a real testament to the superb storytelling that Gaiman is capable of. Besides the arresting nature of the Kindly Ones, there is also The Wake, which introduces us to some new players while also getting a final look at the multitude of characters that we have come to know and love. The art by Michael Zulli is some of the most beautiful in all of the collected works, with every page a virtual painting of gods and goddesses, lovers and innocents, faerie folk, angels and immortals.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ramiz Qudsi

    It is books like these which make you believe in {D}ream( no pun intended). It is that brilliantly written. Every chapter, every page, every dialogue takes your breath away (good thing I am at least of fifth heightening, eh? ;) )! The amount of reference to pop-culture is insane. You don't pay attention to a dialogue and chances are that two references have slipped by you. And that is part of what makes the book so rich. About the characters, you fall in love with Dream (is kind of inevitable), y It is books like these which make you believe in {D}ream( no pun intended). It is that brilliantly written. Every chapter, every page, every dialogue takes your breath away (good thing I am at least of fifth heightening, eh? ;) )! The amount of reference to pop-culture is insane. You don't pay attention to a dialogue and chances are that two references have slipped by you. And that is part of what makes the book so rich. About the characters, you fall in love with Dream (is kind of inevitable), you admire and love Death, you respect Destiny, you are constantly amused by Delirium, you understand Destruction even though you don't agree with him, you feel bad for Despair and you absolutely hate Desire! I do not know if that was intentional, but when the new Dream Lord came along, for some reason I didn't like him. He hasn't even started doing anything, it was just that I didn't like him. May be it was his attire, may be it was his viewpoint, may be it was the way he talked (yes I could hear him talk), may be it was something else. The point being I didn't like him! Now as for this book, barely two pages in the book and I knew something huge and something terrible was coming. There was no jokes flying around, talks were serious, moods were sombre, even when someone was telling a joke and somehow the background was dull! Doesn't mean that the story was dull though. It maintained all the sharpness of Volume 3, and every chapter had a thrill you went through, and an anticipation which forced to turn to another page and reach the next chapter. By far, the best fantasy book I ever read!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ostap Bender

    It looks like The Sandman series really hit its stride with volume 4, ‘Season of Mists’. At the outset, we are introduced more completely to the characters which make up the Endless family at a reunion of sorts: Destiny, Death, Dream, Desire, Despair, and Delirium. (The ‘prodigal son’, Destruction, remains missing). Each is well crafted and interesting in its own right, but Dream and Delirium are particularly fun. Because of this opening to the story, you really could start the series with this It looks like The Sandman series really hit its stride with volume 4, ‘Season of Mists’. At the outset, we are introduced more completely to the characters which make up the Endless family at a reunion of sorts: Destiny, Death, Dream, Desire, Despair, and Delirium. (The ‘prodigal son’, Destruction, remains missing). Each is well crafted and interesting in its own right, but Dream and Delirium are particularly fun. Because of this opening to the story, you really could start the series with this volume, and then catch up with the first three volumes as ‘prequels’ later. Anyway, Dream then goes off on a mission to Hell to rescue Nada, a lover who was sent there 1,000 years ago because of him. At this point in this story, it could simply turn into a battle between The Devil (and all his minions) and Morpheus, but Gaiman does a clever thing in having Lucifer simply close up shop, and abdicate his realm to Morpheus. Holding the key to Hell, Dream then finds out just how many desire it, as they come out of the woodwork from various cultures and religions to attempt to get it for themselves: a contingent from Aesir (Odin, Thor, and Loki), ancient Egypt (Anubis, Bast, and Bes), Japan (Susano-O-No-Mikoto), demons from Hell (Azazel, Merkin, and Choronzon), “Chaos”, “Order”, and angels from Heaven (Remiel and Duma). With such a rich cast of characters present at a dinner party, all either offering Dream things or threatening him, and knowing he must make a choice that will anger all the others, all while wondering what will become of Nada, it makes for a very enjoyable read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cléverton Bezerra

    Throughout the whole Sandman series, Gaiman approched the story with a different kind of point of view and touch. In the beginning it dealt strongly with horror, then it got into pure fantasy, mixing history and magic and, even though while reading it is not automatically noticeable, this whole approach modification is a result of the changes that Morpheus himself faces along the 75 volumes of Sandam. And this last volume is the most dramatically poingeant, humanly written and bittersweet one. I Throughout the whole Sandman series, Gaiman approched the story with a different kind of point of view and touch. In the beginning it dealt strongly with horror, then it got into pure fantasy, mixing history and magic and, even though while reading it is not automatically noticeable, this whole approach modification is a result of the changes that Morpheus himself faces along the 75 volumes of Sandam. And this last volume is the most dramatically poingeant, humanly written and bittersweet one. It's in this one that we can actually notice quite explicitely all the changes faced by Morpheus when it comes to his behavior, mindset and feelings; not only Endless anymore, closer than ever to human, but actually confused inbetween. By dealing with a wider range of feelings, playing with expectations, taking bold narrative choices and reflecting himself as an author and a man in the story, Gaiman finishes the story in a high and emotional note, turning the Sandman series into something unforgettable and a piece of art that should always be revisited, because new and hidden meanings meanings can always be found.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Green

    With the passage of the last year or so, I have grown acquainted with several graphic novel series, most of the them reputed to be some of the best that the genre has to offer. "The Sandman" might be one of those in consideration. This graphic novel series is rich in allusions, artwork, and characters. It can make your head spin with how much Neil Gaiman was able to juggle with this six-year-long series, but his brilliance shines through for most the comic book's run. It is not a perfect series. With the passage of the last year or so, I have grown acquainted with several graphic novel series, most of the them reputed to be some of the best that the genre has to offer. "The Sandman" might be one of those in consideration. This graphic novel series is rich in allusions, artwork, and characters. It can make your head spin with how much Neil Gaiman was able to juggle with this six-year-long series, but his brilliance shines through for most the comic book's run. It is not a perfect series. There are certainly some portions that were less interesting than others. As a dark fantasy series, however, there are few, written or drawn, contemporary fantasy creations that manage to outdo this series. The rating for this volume encompasses my overall feeling of the series. If you have a notebook and pen to write down all of the character's names, there is no better way to spend your time if you love the genre of fantasy.

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