Monday, August 15, 2022

Netflix's Sandman is so good that it's worth probably three months of subscription fees alone.

Tom Sturridge is "Dream", a.k.a. one of the Endless known as "The Sandman." In this scene
he is trapped by a wizard and placed in a cage. He remains imprisoned for an entire century.

I finished up watching the first season of Netflix's The Sandman. Way back in the nineties, I owned several Sandman comics. I think this was really before I ever knew who Neil Gaiman was. I was drawn to the artwork on the covers, although the interior art was decent too. But the covers were spectacular. I remember wondering what "Vertigo" was (it has since been ended as a publishing company). The comic book shop owner explained that this was a "division of DC comics that focused on adult stories." Another Vertigo title I followed for some time was Hellblazer. These comics were about the cigarette smoking trenchcoat wearing John Constantine, and they were very adult. Every single media adaptation of these comics has always failed to impress upon me the mood of the comic book. However, I did enjoy John Constantine in Legends of Tomorrow, which I still insist is one of the best shows that ever graced television.

You might say that I was an "uber" fan of Sandman comics, because at one point I had in my possession an original first printing of Sandman #1 in mint condition. It wasn't all that much of an achievement. I'd bought it from the comic book shop that sold it and promptly put it in an archival quality mylar sleeve (I stowed all my comic books this way). Printed in 1989, there is an original first printing of it for sale on Ebay for around $200. That seems a bit low...I think it is worth around $400.00. So we'll go with that number. You might ask, why don't I have it anymore? Well...I was playing Magic: the Gathering heavily in 1994, and I got an opportunity to part with it for a card called a "Mox Pearl." There's one of these on EBay right now for around $3,300.00. So, if I'd the foresight to hold onto this rare Magic card, I'd have a small fortune. But I didn't. I had to make rent one time in 1998 I think, so I sold my entire collection, along with the Mox, for around $3,000. It was a good deal for the person who bought it. And it kept me in my apartment for a few more months. Honestly, the Mox isn't what stings. I sold a beta Black Lotus in mint condition for $400.00. I think one (like the one that I had) recently sold at auction for $120,000. It's just an eye-popping number for sure.

Anyway...enough of the stupid decisions I've made (or were forced to make because of financial circumstances), because there's no use crying over spilt milk. I wanted to talk about the Sandman series on Netflix, what I enjoyed about it, what I didn't like, and this is your official spoiler warning.

The first thing I wanted to say about the show is that Tom Sturridge is perfectly cast as "Dream/Morpheus," who is the protagonist of the entire series. He plays him in a way that sends chills down my spine. Tom's voice is incredible, and the way he vocalizes all of Dream's lines makes him seem "otherworldly." And Tom when he is naked and imprisoned (yet he maintains this god-like presence) reminds me of Michelangelo's Statue of David, only in the flesh. It's stunning. He's both beautiful and terrifying.

The second thing I loved was the pacing. Given the number of shows out there that draw out every potential story beat for way too long, the Sandman keeps things moving. In virtually any other series, collecting his things would have been two seasons long (staring at Starz here). So the fact that he got them before mid-season was incredible. I loved that. Where the show seems to slip is that it doesn't quite nail the transitions between stories. So there's a bit of weirdness where the series pivots from Dream at full power to Dream needing to get the three "Arcane" back under his control.

I do know that this first season covers the first two main story arcs from the comics, which are most commonly published as two separate trades. This is probably why it feels a bit "disjointed." The first arc is generally considered to be a bit of "finding its feet" situation, which is tonally quite different to the rest of the series. There are ten trade back books in total, so I expect that they will be aiming to cover two a season for a total of five. Going forward, I think it very likely we'll see this similar shift halfway through each season.

All in all, for as crazy and inspired as the original Sandman was, I was impressed by how much they got right. Did anyone else watch it? I look forward to reading your comments.


  1. In the middle of the season right now and it is rather beautiful in its scenery, style, and story. Sturridge is perfectly cast, as is David Thewlis. I read some of the comics, probably also drawn to the covers, and it is following them fairly well. It's even holding my wife's attention, although her favorite character is Matthew. (Although she keeps saying all she can picture is Ratatouille meets MST3K's Max.)

  2. I'm pretty sure I read the first volume of comics at some point and I might have the second one but I don't think I got around to reading it.

  3. Sad you had to sell your collection, but completely understandable. Sometimes keeping a roof over one's head has to be the priority.