08 October 2012

The Sandman, Vol 3: Dream Country

I dove straight into Dream Country and got quite a surprise: it's a story collection.  Four separate story arcs, with Morpheus as a minor or tangential character, as opposed to a much longer novel-length arc.  So cool.

"Calliope" recounts the story of a hack writer, struggling to find success, who is offered a muse.  Not figuratively, literally.  He is literally gifted the Muse Calliope from another writer - as long as Calliope is his captive, he will churn out story after story after story, all successful.  But Morpheus owes a favor....

"A Dream of a Thousand Cats" is a whimsical little tale, about a dreaming kitten.  We meet Morpheus in cat form who tells a story about how cats could once again be rulers of the world, if only enough of them dream...the older cats slink away but the dreaming kitten, he believes.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" is, you guessed it, about the Shakespeare play.  Morpheus contracts Shakespeare to write two plays to his specifications, the first of which will be about the intersection of the human and faerie worlds.  Ultimately, the play is performed for the rulers of Faerie and Puck decides to get in on the action.  This short story won a World Fantasy Award (which makes it the only comic ever to win that, because the rules for the category were changed after that year).

"Facade" is a heart-rending tale about the downside of gaining superpowers.  Element Girl is caught in a crippling depression, unable to present a "normal" face to the world beause of her acquired powers.  Death, Dream's elder sister, is "visiting" upstairs and stops by to offer her help....

Four very disparate stories, but very intriguing each on their own.  I loved "Calliope" - fabulous concept and it offers up a bit more of Morpheus's history for consideration.  The volume I read had the script for "Calliope" in the back and it was interesting to read how a comic is conceived and put together, truly a collaborative effort (as well as Gaiman's notes and reasons for not getting as far as he ought due to creepy phone calls at 2am!).

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