Art from ‘The Sandman’ #8 by Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III.
Gobbledygeek episode 177, “The Sandman: Vol. I – Preludes & Nocturnes (feat. Eric Sipple),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.
You ever have that dream where Paul and AJ are discussing the greatest comic book of all time in ten spoiler-free monthly installments? Yeah, us too: beginning with this episode, the boys bring the Four-Color Flashback feature to the show, dissecting Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman through the rest of the year. Friend of the show (at this point, he’s more of a lover) Eric Sipple joins us for a discussion of The Sandman: Vol. I – Preludes & Nocturnes. The great tale of Morpheus, lord of dreams, gets its start in a fashion that’s not always representative of what it would become (DC superheroes), but the gang is on hand to point out all the ways in which it is uniquely Sandman (a horror story about stories). Plus, Amazon’s a little icky and Marvel has a prime opportunity for diversity with Iron Fist.
Next: despite the words that come tumbling out of AJ’s idiot mouth, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not next week’s episode. We’ll force him to come up with something.
(Show notes for “The Sandman: Vol. I – Preludes & Nocturnes.”)
As last week’s introductory column wound to a close, I pondered two thoughts: Could John Byrne’s art be any more fantastic? Would Chris Claremont be able to refine his writing as time went on? Though we’re still fairly early on in their run, I’ve now been presented with two satisfactory answers, one of which was surprising, the other not so much.
I’ll start with the surprising one, the first thing that leapt out at me as I plowed through these issues: yes, John Byrne’s art is capable of being even more incredible than it already was! Seriously, he was doing a bang-up job on the seven issues we talked about last week, especially as he started discovering the physical and emotional cores of each character during the Magneto storyline. Even by those high standards, his work over these issues is nothing short of phenomenal. There’s the spread of Wolverine lashing out at Sauron as the rest of the team looks on in shock; the full page of Xavier’s memories taking place within his head; the group tackling Canadian superteam Alpha Flight; the list goes on. Just classic stuff on almost every page.
As for Claremont, his progression is what I had been hoping for and expecting, but it’s still good to see that his writing is getting better. Not that it was bad before, but there’s only so much corny dialogue and regional dialectics one can stomach. There’s still plenty of corny dialogue, but for the most part, it’s the good corny, the kind of corny one expects when one picks up a superhero comic from the late 70’s. Thankfully, Claremont has also dialed back the characters’ dialects. Nightcrawler stills busts out German phrases and Banshee’s dialogue is still littered with “ye”s and “aye”s, but more sparingly and at more appropriate times. There are instances when Sean’s actually able to say something that would sound intelligible coming from another character’s mouth!