[Graphic Novel Review] The Sandman V1: Preludes & Nocturnes (1989) ★★★★★

The Sandman V1 Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman 1989

The Sandman dreams up a new original universe of nightmare horror and mythology.

The Sandman V1: Preludes & Nocturnes is a fantasy horror graphic novel that will immerse you into the bizarre weird mythological world of The Endless. It dives into human themes, imagined with creative and original storylines and drawings. It tells the story about the Lord of the Dreamworld, Dream/Morpheus, his past, his family, his lovers, even friends and his adventures. Dream belongs to beings called The Endless, human concepts that thrive our existence. It’s an allegorical story about ideas and concepts that are being personified, which creates a symbolical and fascinating tale of super beings and human nature. 


This first volume consists of eight different parts that introduces the reader to Dream and his universe. In ‘Sleep of the Just’ Dream is held prisoner by a cult, lead by Roderick Burgess in 1916 England. He wants go gain power over Death itself and wants to capture Death with an occult ritual, but instead of Death they have captured Dream. While Dream is held prisoner, multiple humans succumb to a strange disease. Ellie Marsten and Unity Kinkaid fall into a deep sleep never to wake up, while Daniel Bustamonte wakes up eventually as a zombie. 

70 Years later Dream manages to escape and now he has to repair all the damage the cult has caused. But in order to do that he has to find three items that give him  his power. His pouch of sand, his helmet and his dreamstone. 

In ‘Imperfect Hosts’ he goes back to his castle to get his strength back but isn’t welcomed by his servants Cain and Abel and their pet dragon Gregory. His castle has fallen into disrepair and his servant Lucien tells him what happened. Dream asks the three Fates where he can find his items.

In ‘Dream a Little Dream of Me’ he goes out searching for his pouch of sand that brings him to John Constantine. In ‘Hope of Hell’ he descends into Hell to get his helmet back and we meet the three Lords of Hell, Lucifer, Beelzebub and Azazel. In ‘Passengers’ he has to find the human who stole the dreamstone. In ‘24 Hours’ we learn that this human John Dee a.k.a Doctor Destiny, who escaped from Arkham Asylum, has taken advantage of the stone and caused a lot of horrors. We also meet a few members of the Justice League of America. And in ‘Sound and Fury’ Dream confronts John Dee. 

In ‘The Sound of her Wings’ the last part of the story, Dream visits his sister Death who consoles Dream and gives him strength to rebuilt his kingdom. 

Why you should read it

The Sandman is a highly imaginative creative and original take on human concepts turned into real beings, who can be considered gods. Like mythological gods these Endless only exist because of humans, are conjured up by them, they depend on them, but the humans depend on them too, they are inextricably linked. Still, the Endless self are transcending humanity, not bound to human affairs or trivial matters. 

This first volume is an introduction to Dream who is maybe the most elusive of The Endless, while dreams themselves are elusive, mysterious and inscrutable. His twinkling eyes, his black hair and his posture are regal and charming at the same time. His helmet that looks like a gas mask is creepy and his appearance and actions are not really human. His connection to humanity is more intangible than Death’s relationship with humans who understands them better. Dreams are not only intangible themselves but also difficult to understand and symbolic and surreal instead of earthly. That makes Dream himself more introvert, gloomy and emotional, which makes him interesting. 

Dream and The Endless are fresh concepts to create a universe of beings that transcend humanity while coexisting with them. It’s a fresh concept that results in a captivating story. But other figures like the biblical Cain and Abel, the Lords of Hell even other characters from the DC universe all exist in this fantastic universe, ruled by Dream. 

To ground the story and to make it feel more familiar and relatable, humans play an important part in the story as well. Both evil people as innocent people. People Dream has to fight or to protect. Their dreams represent and show us more of Dream’s world and he can move freely between dreams of others. This gives a surreal feel to the story and enhances the magical vibe. 

The drawings are beautifully created and the style reflects the tone of the particular story. It’s always full of motion either in emotions or action, exactly depicting the atmosphere of the situation. It’s imaginative, scary, thought provoking and entertaining. With the pictures, the composition, the colors and storylines The Sandman has created a unique story with an authentic voice and an original universe in which there’s so much more to explore. 

My favorite part

I enjoyed every bit of it. It’s very authentic in storytelling and style but it’s the typical style of Neil Gaiman who’s a master in creating a wonderful original story with old concepts and mythology, turning them into something new, making these old tales his own. It’s full of horror, but also with some humor, it’s smart, sexy and gruesome and a fantasy gem. 

The trip to Hell was fun, but the story about getting back the dreamstone was the most gruesome and horrifying. I also really liked Death. She’s fierce and smart and strong and wise. Her appearance and her conversation with Dream make him more human-like, more grounded and responsible. It’s all very well balanced out to create a brilliant fresh universe and mythology of Dream.


Rating: ★★★★★

Gruesome factor: ★★★★★

Originality factor: ★★★★★

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★


The Sandman Volume 1: Preludes & Nocturnes is written by Neil Gaiman and first published by DC Comics in 1989 and from1993 by Vertigo. It consists of 234 pages. 

Artists: Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Dave McKean. Covers: Dave McKean. Letterer: Todd Klein. Colorist: Daniel Vozzo. Editor: Karen Berger.

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