The Sandman: Season of Mists
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: DC Comics
Publication Date: 1990-1991
Titles: The Sandman #21-28
In this volume we get back to the more traditional storytelling method, where the volume itself contains a cohesive storyline. Of the tales we’ve had so far, I hold this volume on par with Preludes and Nocturnes. Both volumes give us storylines that explore the Endless and their abilities, as well as the realms beyond Dreaming and the mortal world.
First, we encounter Destiny, the eldest of the Endless. I love Destiny’s concept design, perhaps more than any other Endless. He is shown carrying his book, which is chained to his wrist. He literally can never be rid of it. Beyond that, he can also read ahead, or behind, to gain further insight into events. Even his own existence is not immune to this recording. A chance meeting prompts him to look in the Book, and call a meeting of his siblings.
Most of them we’ve met, at least briefly, before. This meeting is an excellent chance to see them together, and to gain a better dynamic of them as a family. And there are family dynamics here, which is part of what makes it so interesting.
Desire makes fun of Dream for his treatment of Nada, and Death points out to him that perhaps his actions were not noble. Dream determines that he should descend into Hell to free Nada, despite his insulting Lucifer in Preludes and Nocturnes. The insult makes reentering Hell a risk, as Dream freely admits that Lucifer is stronger than he.
I do wonder Desire’s motivation here. We’ve seen in the past that they have tried to destroy Dream. While it is not explored, I do think that perhaps Desire’s mention of Nada and needling of Dream is just to try and get Dream to do something that is not in his best interest, and could get him killed.
Dream makes his preparations to descend into Hell, which is a great example of the care and forethought he puts into his realm. Upon arriving in Hell, he runs into a surprise–one too good for me to spoil here. Suffice to say, I thought it was a great direction to twist the story in.
I don’t want to give too much away about the plot of the volume, but I will say that I greatly enjoyed it. Seeds are planted for Gaiman’s 2001 novel American Gods, as we see various pantheons and myths come to life. One thing I greatly admire about Gaiman is his dedication to research. He tries to be as authentic in his myth portrayal as he can to the original sources. It makes the stories more interesting, and can serve as arousing interest in old stories.
The ending was not one that I expected, and one that I have mixed-feelings about. While I like the solution to the problem, there are some timing issues that are raised once you realize what has happened.
This is a good story, and I loved the various elements that went into it. I’m interested to see how this might have further impact down the line.
Rating 5 out of 5
Trigger Warnings: Gruesome images, child death, violence, magic