When my two friends rushed me to the library after school and insisted I sign out the first four volumes of the Sandman series, I was more skeptical than excited. My experience with comics is limited, my experience with graphic novels was less-than-limited. For some reason, I had already pegged this graphic novel series as one with a run-of-the-mill plotline and a plethora of mildly interesting characters. Suffice to say, I was wrong. Like, really wrong.

The story begins in 1916 in the midst of a dark, Aleister Crowly-esque ritual, the goal of which being to summon and imprison Death and grant immortality to Roderick Burgess (the head of the The Order of the Ancient Mysteries). Instead, Death’s brother, Dream (also known as Morpheus, Oneiros, The Sandman, or Kai’ckul, his titles link together every personification of Dream across history, and I love it) is captured and held until his escape in 1988.

Once out, Morpheus discovers that his trio of power totems have been scattered across the worlds. The rest of the book documents his quest as he ventures across our world and Hell to reunite his sand pouch, helm, and ruby. Against a dark backdrop of occultism, sorcery, and imprisonment, Neil Gaiman manages to convey some pretty commanding messages about mankind’s lust for power.

In the denouement, we finally meet Death, unconventionally personified, she’s a badass teenage goth chick(somehow this works outstandingly well). Definitely my favourite character.

I have one final evaluation to make, a wise geek once told me that a good way to gauge whether or not an entire series is worth reading, is to decide whether or not the first book can stand alone. I’ve always found this to be an accurate indicator, and Preludes and Nocturnes gets a 10/10 in stand-alone-ibility. I will continue reading Sandman; the plotline is dark and gripping, the graphics are intense, the mythology is well-developed and rich, and it includes a couple special appearances from Hellblazer, and Dr. Destiny that DC fans are sure to geek out over. I’m already reaching for the next one…

Submitted by Rachel Hill