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Review: The Sandman Universe – Nightmare Country #1

The Sandman Universe - Nightmare Country #1

James Tynion, Lisandro Estherren, and Patricio Delpeche dip their toes back into The Dreaming in The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country #1. The story centers around the nightmare The Corinthian, whose teeth for eyes motif has been an inspiration for a Brooklyn college student named Flynn. (It’s less inspiring to the guy she brings back to her dorm room.) Estherren’s art style actually looks like dreams with a flowing, impressionistic line and a lo-fi palette from Delpeche. However, in the early going the visuals are unfortunately all Nightmare Country has going for it.

In the tradition of many Sandman stories and spinoffs like the Death minis and The Dreaming, Nightmare Country #1 focuses on mortals with supernatural beings like The Corinthian in this case playing a background role. However, Flynn isn’t really an interesting protagonist even if her monologues about the world ending and being an outcast are totally relatable to anyone in their 20s, early, late, or otherwise. Lisandro Estherren and Patricio’s Delpeche’s art do the heavy lifting during her monologues conjuring up a future vision of New York underwater with fish being poisoned by art students’ paints and hint at her worst fear: Jabba the Hutt with teeth for eyes that’s sure to be revealed down the road.

It’s interesting to be that their more surreal work is used for the “real world” (With jaunts into the horrific and bizarre) while Yanick Paquette‘s clean line and Nathan Fairbairn’s clearly delineated, color in the lines work is used for an interlude into The Dreaming in Nightmare Country. This four page sequence’s writing style is clearly Tynion channeling Neil Gaiman, and there are real “A book is a dream you hold in your hand” vibes to it as he introduces The Corinthian to anyone not familiar with the original Sandman series. He also does a super short story about a man in Appalachia that is afraid in mirrors that along with the last few pages featuring Mr. Agony and Mr. Ecstasy is more effective than any of the main story sequences featuring Flynn, The Corinthian, and her lover. However, Tynion, Estherren, and Paquette’s characterization of The Corinthian doesn’t go beyond creepy guy with teeth for eyes that has a connection/is an inspiration to Flynn and heralds a bigger fish in the pond, the Smiling Man. He’s just a fixation for now even if Lisandro Estherren and Patricio Delpeche make crimson, scarring mini-masterpieces out of Flynn’s paintings of him.

It fits the whole actual dream/nightmare of it all, but Nightmare Country‘s key flaw is honestly how the scenes are put together. The Paquette/Fairbairn sequence has more of a prologue vibe and its combination of strong visuals plus nostalgia for the original Sandman may have worked better opening the issue than Flynn talking bullshit at the bar with a man who she ends up in bed with despite sharing almost no chemistry beyond man and woman at a bar. (There’s an awkward panel that I think is meant to be their arms brushing against each other to create a physical connection, but it’s staged in extreme close-up and is hard to follow.) But, despite a slow start, Tynion and Estherren do end with Nighmare Country‘s most entertainingly written sequence plus some gory chills in the visual department as Mr. Agony and Mr. Ecstasy match their names in the best way and have some amusing banter while killing their victim. But, of course, The Smiling One is the Big Bad and gets the final page despite only being basically “that creepy guy in the background” for now. It’s meant to be a mystery, but for now, I’m not super invested as Agony and Ecstasy steal the show.

Despite being a continuation of what is considered to be one of the greatest comics of all time, Nighmare Country #1 is a middling start to this dreamscape horror yarn. As mentioned several times, its saving grace is the art of Lisandro Estherren and Patricio Delpeche whose hazy line and colors blur the lines between sleep and waking, fear and nightmare. This series might be one to check out in the inevitable trade paperback edition instead of on a monthly basis for now with an uninteresting protagonist and a baddie that is all flash and no substance for now.

Story: James Tynion IV Art: Lisandro Estherren, Yanick Paquette
Colors: Patricio Delpeche, Nathan Fairbairn Letters: Simon Bowland
Story: 6.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 7.4 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics/Black Label provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology/KindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Get a Look at the Anticipated Locke & Key/The Sandman Universe: Hell & Gone #1 Before its April 14 Release

New York Times bestselling novelist Joe Hill and superstar artist Gabriel Rodríguez have crafted a tale of mystery and terror, bringing together two of comics’ greatest fantasy franchises — their award-winning series Locke & Key published by IDW and DC’s blockbuster The Sandman, created by Neil GaimanSam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg — in Locke & Key / The Sandman Universe: Hell & Gone #1, slated for release on April 14th.

Hell & Gone #1 follows a desperate Mary Locke, whose brother Jack may be 10 years dead but still sends letters home from Hell. Her quest to rescue him from The Pit will require her to outsmart Roderick Burgess (the most wicked man in England), puzzle her way through the House of Mystery, and risk the walking nightmare known as The Corinthian in a disintegrating Kingdom of Dreams!

Locke & Key / The Sandman Universe: Hell & Gone #1 will be available with multiple cover variants for retailers and fans to enjoy, including Cover A by Gabriel Rodríguez, Cover B by JH Williams III, Cover C by Kelley Jones, and two Retailer Incentive editions featuring art by Rodríguez and Williams, respectively.

Locke & Key / The Sandman Universe: Hell & Gone #1

Preview: Locke & Key/Sandman: Hell & Gone #0

Locke & Key/Sandman: Hell & Gone #0

(W) Joe Hill (A/CA) Gabriel Rodriguez
In Shops: Dec 09, 2020
SRP: $3.99

If you think you can unlock the gates of Hell and just invite yourself in, you must be Dreaming!

The Sandman Universe crossover begins here, with this specially priced re-introduction of the storylines and characters who populate next month’s landmark event series.

First, in the Eisner-winning Locke & Key tale, “Open the Moon,” meet Chamberlin Locke, patriarch of the Locke family, whose Moon Key began to unlock the events of this event series.

Next, journey with the Lord of Dreams to Lucifer’s domain in the chapter of Sandman’s epic “Season of Mists” storyline that sees the Key to Hell change hands in a most momentous way.

And join IDW and DC Comics next month for Locke & Key: Hell & Gone #1 by L&K co-creators Hill and Rodriguez!

Locke & Key/Sandman: Hell & Gone #0

The Sandman Universe Presents Hellblazer #1 Gets a First Look

DC presents the first look at The Sandman Universe Presents Hellblazer #1, an oversized one-shot which kicks off the second year of the acclaimed Sandman Universe line by putting it on a collision course with one of horror’s most iconic characters… John Constantine, Hellblazer!

In this ten-page preview, Constantine is seen in an expanded version of a critical scene from Neil Gaiman’s classic Books Of Magic miniseries. After getting tangled up in a magical war waged across countless futures, Constantine was murdered by an all-powerful adversary: a twisted version of the promising young magician Timothy Hunter, bloated with evil. But over the past year strange forces have conspired to restart Tim Hunter’s tale, and somehow—amid sorcery, insanity and secret agendas—this older, wiser, wilier shade of Constantine has been dragged back with it. Now he must ask himself why he, the last person in the world to deserve a second chance, has been given one. Is John Constantine here to put Tim Hunter on the right track and avert a terrible outcome? Or is it because he’s the only person in existence with the guts to do what really must be done? After all, he’s a nasty piece of work, chief…ask anybody. 

This one-shot provides the lead-in to the November-debuting monthly ongoing John Constantine, Hellblazer series, by Si Spurrier and artist Aaron Campbell. The Sandman Universe Presents Hellblazer #1 is by Spurrier with art by Marcio Takara, colors by Cris Peter, and a cover by Bilquis Evely.

The Sandman Universe Presents Hellblazer #1 will carry DC’s Black Label content descriptor (for mature readers) and will retail for $4.99 and is out on October 30, 2019.

The Sandman Universe Presents Hellblazer #1

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day! What’s everyone excited for? What do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments below. While you wait for that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Kotaku – In Defense of ROMs, A Solution To Dying Games And Broken Copyright Laws – Should this logic apply to comics too?

KFDX – Alleged $100000 comic book thief faces additional burglary charge – Glad he was caught!

Wonkete – Dumb Rightwing Rag ‘The Federalist’ Forgot How Much Superheroes Like Punching Nazis – Bwahahahahahaha

IGN – DC Writer Debuts a Different Kind of Comic Book Experience – This is pretty cool and a must get!

Reviews

Newsarama – Border Town #1

Comic Attack – The Sandman Universe #1

Review: The Sandman Universe #1

With a flourish of alliterative narration from Lucien the Librarian, the return to the Dreaming commences in The Sandman Universe #1, a one-shot with a story credit to original Sandman creator Neil Gaiman that sets up four separate books set in this universe. Each creative team gets an opportunity to set up their stories in this comic. Gaiman, Si Spurrier, and Bilquis Evely use the fluid and ever changing nature of The Dreaming to visit the settings of the other Sandman Universe titles in a more urban fantasy and mythology driven version of all those intriguing fake trailers shown in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse double feature. However, The Sandman Universe #1 also has an overarching narrative and final page cliffhanger and isn’t just a sampler platter.

There is Spurrier and  Evely’s The Dreaming that focuses on supporting characters of The Sandman and their hunt for Daniel, the Dream of the Endless as his realm cracks and shatters. It also acts as the framing story of Sandman Universe with Matthew the Raven traveling between physical, spiritual, and dream dimensions in his quest to find Daniel. There is also Kat Howard and Tom Fowler’s reimagining of Books of Magic featuring the boy wizard Tim Hunter and his mysterious teacher Rose, Nalo Hopkinson and Domo Stanton’s House of Whispers that introduces the New Orleans Voodoo religion to The Dreaming and has a young African-American lesbian couple as protagonists, and finally, Dan Watters, Max Fiumara, and Sebastian Fiumara‘s tortuous and twisting take on Lucifer, who must suffer to find his son and not be a absentee father like Yahweh. The framing story and three interludes have a strong narrative continuity thanks to the consistent, yet versatile colors of Mat Lopes and Simon Bowland’s Eisner-worthy letters as he takes over for the legendary Todd Klein.

Spurrier and Evely’s story that is set in The Dreaming has big ideas, humor, tragedy, and even horror as they reintroduce familiar denizens like Lucien the Librarian and Cain and Abel and introduce a new character in Dora, a female monster who can jump between dreams. Her agility is evident when Evely draws her multiple times in one panel, and Spurrier makes her a fast talker. She also has a dark side and isn’t a fan of the realm of the Dreaming because Morpheus lied to her a long time ago. The heavily inked flashback is some of Evely’s best work, gave me chills, and is the only time any members of the Endless speak in Sandman Universe. Like telling the story of a dream to a friend after the night you’ve had it, The Dreaming is all about setting chaos to order, but this seems like a tall order even though the epic quest format is pretty conventional.

After being unable to jump into the waking world via the food-laden dream of a woman with esophageal cancer, Matthew enters it via the dreams of Tim Hunter. While Bilquis Evely’s work is well-rendered and exquisite like a novel that is a masterpiece of both craft and plot, Tom Fowler’s work is messier, yet still highly detailed. Warts and all, t’s perfect for the story of an adolescent wizard, who suffers the second worst nightmare of any teen on the first day of high school. Kat Howard’s plot for this short glimpse into Hunter’s world is more Agatha Christie than JK Rowling, and it looks like Hunter will have to fend for himself for the most part even though she does give him a friend in Ellie.

Following Books of Magic, Matthew jumps into New Orleans and into a queer love story between Latoya and Maggie. However, Nalo Hopkinson and Domo Stanton immediately throw them into world of conflict between gods and goddesses, boundaries between worlds, and magical items. The Louisiana Voodoo goddess Erzulie is introduced in this story and is quite the mystery. Hopkinson and Stanton craft a true urban fantasy story as the life of a family and two young lovers intersects with forces beyond their control. There’s a lushness and beauty to Stanton’s art, and he and colorist Mat Lopes create a wonderful effect that turns the bayou into a scrying mirror.

The last story that Matthew wanders into before reaching the “end” of his quest for Daniel is Lucifer’s, and it’s told in horror tinged, nine panel grid severity by Dan Watters, Max Fiumara, and Sebastian Fiumara. The Fiumaras strip away the David Bowie Lucifer that left his kingdom to open a club in L.A. and play piano and strip him down to something more malevolent with images that evoke more contempt than sympathy for the devils like starving ravens. Lucifer is on a journey again, but it’s not a fun field trip and more of a bloody vision quest. Along the way, Watters, Fiumara, and Fiumara riff off Lucifer’s first appearance in The Sandman where Morpheus defeats him in battle using the embodiment of hope. But hope might not win this time…

With carefully crafted artwork, writing that is both intelligent and down to Earth, and stories that have a distinct feel yet are connected through the wonderful device that is the Dreaming, The Sandman Universe #1 is a fantastic return of comics’ greatest creations as its creator, Neil Gaiman, hands off the torch to other skilled creators just like Morpheus did to Daniel over two decades in the first volume of Sandman. It’s a wonderful blurring of lines between reality and fiction.

Story: Neil Gaiman, Si Spurrier, Kat Howard, Nalo Hopkinson, Dan Watters
Art: Bilquis Evely, Tom Fowler, Domo Stanton, Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara
Colors: Mat Lopes Letters: Simon Bowland 

Story: 8.5 Art: 9 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics/Vertigo provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Around the Tubes

It was new comic book day yesterday! What’d folks get? What’d you like? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments below. While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

Quartz – Graphic novels are novels. Five any literate person should read – What do you think are some folks should read?

The Comichron – Saga, Punisher, Titans lead advance reorder categories as July ends – An interesting mix of titles.

 

Reviews

The Beat – Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles

Newsarama – Fantastic Four #1

Comic Book – The Sandman Universe #1

Newsarama – The Sandman Universe #1

The Beat – Where She Walks

Review: The Sandman Universe #1

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got the restart of the Sandman universe!

The Sandman Universe #1 is by Neil Gaiman, Simon Spurrier, Kat Howard, Nalo Hopkinson, Dan Watters, Bilquis Evely, Tom Fowler, Dominike Stanton, Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara, Mat Lopes, and Simon Bowland.

Get your copy in comic shops today. To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFAW

 

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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Preview: The Sandman Universe #1

The Sandman Universe #1

(W) Si Spurrier, Nalo Hopkinson, Kat Howard, Dan Watters (A) Bilquis Evely, Dominike “Domo” Stanton, Tom Fowler, Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara (CA) Jae Lee

From the mind of New York Times #1 bestselling author Neil Gaiman comes a new world filled with dreams, nightmares and wonderful characters living together in a shared universe for a new story unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
A rift between worlds has opened, revealing a space beyond the Dreaming. Meanwhile, a book from Lucien’s library is discovered by a group of children in the waking world where it should not exist. Lucien calls for Matthew the Raven to seek out their master, Daniel, Lord of Dreams.

As Matthew flies across the Waking World and others, he finds a young boy named Timothy Hunter who, in his dreams, has become the world’s most powerful magician-but in his nightmares he is the world’s greatest villain. A new House has appeared in the realm of the Dreaming: the House of Whispers, with its proprietor, a fortune-teller called Erzulie. And elsewhere, Lucifer has fallen again, only this time he might be trapped in a Hell of his own design.

Spiraling out of this special issue will be four all-new series set in the Sandman Universe. It all starts here!

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Paul

Top Pick: Fantastic Four #1 (Marvel) – FINALLY! Fantastic Four was the first comic book I ever read and it ignited my passion for comic books. I collected this title for years and was crushed when it was cancelled. I am beyond excited that Marvel’s first family is coming back and I can’t wait to read their new adventures.

 

Brett

Top Pick: The Sandman Universe #1 (Vertigo/DC Comics) – This is it, the return of the classic comic universe! I can’t say I ever read the originals, but I’m fascinated to see what this new entry is like and the new series spinning out of this universe.

Black Badge #1 (BOOM! Studios) – Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins alone are draws for this new series.

Farmhand #2 (Image Comics) – The first issue was weird in all the right ways where a farm now grows human parts. Funny in so many ways, this is one that’s just strange enough to keep us intrigued.

Hot Lunch Special #1 (AfterShock Comics) – I couldn’t tell you a single thing about what this series is about. I just know writer Eliot Rahal is writing it and since he consistently entertains me, I’m excited to check it out.

Long Live Pro Wrestling #0 (Scout Comics) – Wrestling in comics is becoming a big thing again and this one sounds unique as it follows a former wrestler turned talk show host which sounds like it could stand out.

Mech Cadet Yu #11 (BOOM! Studios) – I love this seres of kids piloting giant mechs fighting off aliens. This isn’t the issue to start but I will constantly recommend this series.

Oblivion Song by Kirman and De Felici #6 (Skybound Entertainment/Image Comics) – This sci-fi series stands out not for the concept/aliens, but the focus on the impact of a catastrophic event. There’s an exploration of PTSD and trauma that’s subtle (and some times not so much) but something we just don’t see in comics much today.

Outpost Zero #2 (Skybound Entertainment/Image Comics) – The first issue was the tense build up of a disaster film. A little mix of a lot of concepts, the center of it all is key, grown up kids who are experiencing it all in their own way. An interesting enough first issue I’m excited to check out the second.

Transformers: Lost Light #22/Transformers: Optimus Prime #22/Transformers: Unicron #3 (IDW Publishing) – The three series come together to deal with the threat that us Unicron. While some are a bit behind the main story, they’re all important in their own way and the bigger picture that’s happening is amazing. This is years of storyline finally converging to one big event and who knows what will happen when it’s all over.

 

Joe

Top Pick: Fantastic Four #1 (Marvel) – The first family of comics is back! It’s long overdue, I mean even DC formed The Terrifics in their absence with a different but in the same mold as our science loving explorers. So pumped to see what Slott and company has in store.

The Sandman Universe #1 (Vertigo/DC Comics) – Another classic and beloved series returns this week. I have high hopes for this book and the four ongoing series it will kick off. It’s Gaiman’s world, we just play in it!

Plastic Man #3 (DC Comics) – While I wish this was an ongoing, I am still looking forward to every issue. It’s such ridiculous fun and mystery.

Superman #2 (DC Comics) – Let’s see what Bendis and company has in store as these issues pile up. I enjoyed both starts to this and Action, and am hopeful the momentum continues. Great start so far.

The Amazing Spider-Man #3 (Marvel) – Spencer and Ottley have done a great job with the first two issues, and I am loving the story with The Lizard, and the school. I can’t wait as the rogues gallery grows, because to me, much like Batman, that’s when Spidey is at its best.

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