Friday, August 8, 2014

The Sandman, Volume 7: Brief Lives

 It's interesting how time, and perspective, can change one's opinion about art and entertainment. THE SANDMAN, VOLUME 7: BRIEF LIVES has always been a favorite story arc of mine, and Gaiman's impish creation, Delirium, a favorite character. 22 years later, I found the story to be overly wordy and meandering, and the Delirium character often tried my patience to the limit.

 That said, by the time it was all said and done, Gaiman had reminded me why I loved BRIEF LIVES so much in the first place. While the volume's central theme (Dream and Delirium's quest to find their missing sibling, Destruction) offers up the resolution to a long-simmering plot thread that Gaiman teased readers with for years, the true turning point in the series comes in this collection, as Morpheus must finally come to terms with his son, Orpheus, a meeting which sows the seeds of Morpheus' eventual downfall and destruction.

 (And, yes, I realize that I'm reviewing out of sequence, with Volume 7 coming before Volume 6- That's because I chose to read the stories in Volumes 6 & 7 in the sequence they were originally published, meaning that I read the bulk of Volume 6, then Volume 7, then I'll go back to Volume 6 to read SANDMAN #50. THEN you'll get my review of THE SANDMAN, VOLUME 6: FABLES & REFLECTIONS......)

 As I stated earlier, 22 years have gone by, and my tolerance for Delirium has lessened as I've grown older, and I find myself having more and more in common with stoic, stodgy old Dream. But perhaps that's part of Neil Gaiman's brilliance....he's crafted eternal, godlike protagonists, and made them relatable to us mere mortals.

 The finale of this book is heartbreaking, especially in hindsight. Having already read the series in it's entirety, it's tough to absorb, knowing the dire implications that Morpheus' actions will have on him in the near future.

 While THE SANDMAN, VOLUME 7: BRIEF LIVES didn't live up to my lofty recollections, it's still an amazing piece of work, and integral to the series as a whole. Gaiman is a master, and he rarely misses a step.