The Sandman: The Doll's House


Having rather enjoyed my second stint with Neil Gaiman's The Sandman almost two decades after my first try with this series, I was curious to see where the author would take the story following Preludes & Nocturnes (Canada, USA, Europe).

The Sandman: The Doll's House is the second omnibus released by Vertigo, and it contains issues 9 to 16 of the award-winning comic book, as well as an introduction by Clive Barker. This second story arc was more difficult to get into -- much more than I thought it would be. There is a bit of a problem with continuity, and the storylines are all over the place. I'm well aware that Gaiman was likely laying the groundwork for a variety of plotlines yet to come, but as a whole this omnibus doesn't deliver a reading experience as satisfying as its predecessor.

Illustrated by Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Chris Bachalo, Michael Zulli, and Steve Parkhouse, I found the art in these eight issues to be less eye-pleasing than what I glimpsed in Preludes & Nocturnes. To a certain extent, one gets the feeling that the entire team was still trying to come to terms with what it was they were attempting to accomplish. On the other hand, the Dave McKean covers are great.



The pace remains slow-moving, as was the case with the first omnibus. Still, Gaiman introduces us to new characters, ideas, and concepts, and you can see that it's only a matter of time before the series truly takes off. Yet if The Doll's House was meant to be a symphony, it would be composed of decidedly discordant movements.

"Tales in the Sand" is a very interesting prologue, yet it doesn't seem to have much to do with the rest of the story arc. "The Doll's House" and "Moving In" set the stage for what is to come, yet "Playing House" goes in a totally different direction. Ditto "Men of Good Fortune," which doesn't appear to fit in any shape or form with the rest of the story arc. "Collectors," with its serial killer convention, was a fantastic read, however. "Into the Night" and "Lost Hearts" finally deal with the dream vortex theme.

All in all, The Sandman: The Doll's House is an absorbing, if uneven, read. I'm hoping that The Sandman: Dream Country, the third omnibus, will see the tale take off and fulfill its great potential.

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9 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

Don't hold too much hope for Dream Country pushing the story forward by leaps and bounds. If my memory serves, it was the 4th omnibus that pushes the story forwards. It all comes together slowly as you are fed pieces, Pat, and there is some piecing together to do. Patience is required.

Tree Frog said...

As the anonymous said, it is Seasons of Mists in which Gaimain makes the enormous vault from "title with promise" to "One of the fucking best things I've ever come across". And it keeps building on all the little pieces given to you earlier and delivering THE AWESOME again and again.

After you're done with the series, go pick up Sandman: The Dream Hunters and Sandman: Endless Nights. Those are the two spinoffs most worth it. The others are largely diminishing return - in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

One problem I had with this one was to identify who is supposed to be a psycho, and who is supposed to be just strange. Also this GK Chesterton appearance called Fiddler's Green was rather limp and I only had to be told later on that this was supposed to be a kind of highlight in this volume.

Kesera said...

No rating out of 10?

Patrick said...

No rating, for I don't really have any point of reference to "score" comic books and graphic novels.

Down the line, if I read more and more in that medium, I'll probably rate the works I review. But as things stand, it wouldn't feel fair to do so. . .

The Dude said...

I agree that The Sandman really becomes the masterpiece that it turned out to be in Seasons of Mists.

The thing is that the most common description of Sandman is that it's "a story about stories", so there are many one shots throughout the series, that have nothing to do with the main arc, but are amazing little stories on their own.

For example, in the next collection Dream Country there's the famous story "Midsummer Night's Dream" that won the World Fantasy Award

O Goncho said...

Stick with it Pat, seriously. You'll be glad you did.

Ahimaaz Rajesh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ahimaaz Rajesh said...

This starts off great with Tales in the Sand. (It’s also the first trick Desire pulled on Dream as later revealed) To me the first three parts of Doll’s House were really good – the page shifting from one plane to another in a dream and all, surely though it reads chaotic because it’s got so much going on in there. Fourth goes off track but I could bear it. Fifth, Collectors, totally lost me because it marks, for me, Gaiman’s one of the worst writing ever and for the uninitiated this is also where he parodies Chesterton’s Manalive Prologue and Epilogue. I believe he could have done it far better because this part has many additional pages given to it than other parts. Just when I thought I am going to dislike the rest of it, Gaiman’s gets on his creative feet firm and wields the rest carefully executing it better. I found the idea that Gilbert (GKC) isn’t a person but a place (to visit, rest, and nourish) rather striking.

Frankly, it’s a trade that’s hard to get through all things considered. Dream Country is a collection of stories and though it does not fit inside the main narrative it’s got stories that are as good or better than Tales in the Sand. Season of Mists, perhaps, has Gaiman at his creative peak. From then on, there’s no turning back. Well, but Sandman is not about one long narrative rather having one but at the same time having many strange, fantastic story-telling moments.