After over 30 years, the 75-issue comic book series from DC Comics by Neil Gaiman, “The Sandman” (1989-1996), has finally been adapted. The first season is on Netflix and consists of 10 episodes and one bonus episode.
The show follows The Lord of Dreams, Morpheus, also called Dream. The series starts with him being captured in 1916 by an occult ritual trying to summon Morpheus’s sister Death but summoned Morpheus by accident. He is held captive for 106 years, and when he is finally released, we see him trying to rebuild his realm called The Dreaming.
I have been slowly making my way through reading “The Sandman,” but I have read past what the Netflix series has adapted, which is the first two story arcs in the comic books “Preludes and Nocturnes” and “The Doll’s House”. The bonus episode adapted the two stories “A Dream of a Thousand Cats” and “Calliope” from the third story arc “Dream Country.”
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the show. Every comic book fan can relate to being hesitant when something you are passionate about gets adapted for the screen and you hope the adaption does the source material justice. At certain moments in the show, specific comic book panels were recreated, and dialogue from the comics was also used.
The first two episodes, “Sleep of the Just” and “Imperfect Hosts,” are very much world-building episodes and can be a long watch. For me, the third episode, “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” is where the show takes off.
Now there are some differences between the comics and the show. And as someone who has watched many comic adaptations, I’ve come to expect changes from the source material; it’s just what happens. I found it interesting that the character The Corinthian, who was first introduced in “The Doll’s House,” becomes more of an overarching antagonist in the show. The character is not in every episode, but you know he lurks in the shadows, ready to jump out at any moment. I can see why the developers and Neil Gaiman, an executive producer on the show, would give The Corinthian a more prominent role; it gives the two stories more of a connection to each other.
The show combines the horror and fantasy elements of the comics very well. Especially the fifth episode, “24/7,” brings the horror of the comics to life. The entire time I watched “24/7,” I was in various states of anxiety.
Tom Sturridge, who portrays Morpheus, really nails down the cold and aloof nature that Morpheus has at the beginning of the series and how he learns to become more human through the various events he experiences.
The character development of Morpheus becomes apparent in the sixth episode, “The Sound of Her Wings,” where we finally meet one of my favorite “The Sandman” characters, Morpheus’s older sister, Death. Most of the episode is just Morpheus and Death talking, but through their conversations, Morpheus realizes how important his job is as the Lord of Dreams.
I do hope “The Sandman” gets renewed for a second season. As I mentioned in the beginning, the comics ran for 75-issues; that’s a lot of comics to pull plots from. The comic also has many spin-off series, including two of my all-time favorite series; both are three issues long and follow Death. “Death: The High Cost of Living” (1993) and “Death: The Time of Your Life.” (1996) were both written by Gaiman.
You will get lost in “The Sandman” fantasy world by the end of the first episode and begging for more episodes by the end of the eleventh. Everyone deserves to get lost in something every once and a while.