"You know the feeling... right? Sure you do.
"Happens every morning, right after you wake.
"The moment you forget your dreams."
Dream has vanished. Left the Dreaming and gone... well... no one seems sure quite where. All that remains within the disintegrating imaginary edifice at the centre of the Dreaming are a collection of familiar assistants and acolytes such as Lucien the librarian, Matthew the raven, the demi-deranged double act Cain and Abel and the... well, just plain old argumentative arsehole in the case of Marvin, the cigar-smoking pumpkinhead. It's good to have them all back!
It'd be lovely to have Morpheus as well, or Daniel at least, as the reincarnate youthful Lord of Dreams was named. But he's vanished with nary a trace and now seems unable or perhaps unwilling to answer the call of his sigil in the Gallery of the Endless located within his castle.
Fortunately, Lucien, if he can remember it - for this mysterious decay is beginning to affect the inhabitants too - has a plan... As a former raven himself - something Matthew, as well as myself had forgotten - he is aware of the psychic tether between the Lord Of Dreams and his atramentous avians. And so Lucien sends Matthew soaring off to roam the realms looking for their master before all of his creation crumbles away completely.
It's a stratagem that twangs, sorry hangs, by the proverbial rubber band of a tenuous thread, to say the least, but it certainly forms an excellent conceit for allowing Matthew to pass mostly unawares by the characters who will form the cast of the four cornerstones of this new DC Vertigo Sandman Universe.
Said sound foundations being formed of...
The Dreaming #1 (£3-25) by Si Spurrier & Bliquis Evely out 5th September
The House Of Whispers #1 (£3-25) by Nalo Hopkinson & Dominike Domo Stanton out 12th September
Lucifer #1 (£3-25) by Dan Waters & Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara out 17th October
The Books Of Magic #1 (£3-25) by Kat Howard & Tom Fowler out 24th October
So, yes, we will see several old favourites return, albeit many filled with the same egotistic notions of grandeur and / or crippling neuroses as before, for example in the form of the likes of the ever <ahem> trustworthy Lucifer Morningstar, still getting worked up about his absent daddy issues, and Timothy Hunter, still grappling with school life whilst wondering which end of his wand is which.
We'll also see new characters aplenty, particularly in The House Of Whispers, which looks to open a hitherto unknown corner of the Vertigo mythos by taking us to a bayou where the houseboat of Erzulie Fréda floats. Erzulie, I think, seems to be a voodoo goddess who attracts the souls of her followers looking for agony aunt-esque advice on both supernatural and worldly issues.
Erzulie seems like she could be a bit of a party girl herself, on the not-so-quiet, with an interesting back story, so I'm particularly looking forward to reading more about her.
Matthew does eventually manage to locate Daniel, if not find him, just in case you are wondering. So we catch at least a glimpse of the albino teenage sulkpot at large in the big city and get half an answer to the question. It seems he is there of his own volition, rather than caged against his will, which is where, if you recall, SANDMAN itself began all those years ago, in SANDMAN VOL 1: PRELUDES AND NOCTURNES.
Now, whilst Neil himself is involved with the writing of this one-shot, being credited with the story idea, he is not, I believe, involved directly with the writing of the four ongoing titles. Instead he's hand-picked the writers, including three fantasy prose writers alongside comics veteran Si Spurrier who with the likes of GODSHAPER and THE SPIRE has certainly proven he can craft an atypical tale or two. If we can't have Neil himself scribing away, I guess that this is the next best thing. Certainly, on the basis of where they've all taken his initial premise here, I'm more than sufficiently intrigued to want to read all the titles.
Artistically, this has all tickled my fancy too, especially the Fiumara brothers on the Lucifer title. My interest in that particular title is greatly reawakened after this lead-in. But all the titles look like they are going to have distinctive art styles to compliment the writing, precisely like Vertigo always had back in the day, and in fact always continued to do so with its better titles.
So far, so very good. And if we keep everything crossed, you never know, we might get a Vertigo HELLBLAZER reprise...