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am 30. März 2000
Saying this isn't the best SANDMAN volume isn't saying much, since the entire set is overall excellent, and it would be depressing if the series hadn't improved on its beginning. Anyway, this is where you need to start -- it sets up the whole Dream mythos and establishes his character as he accumulates all his lost tools. The journey takes him from a house whose inner walls are made of a body turned inside out, to Hell itself, to the scene of a diner massacre, and even to the home of the Martian Manhunter.
The art is a bit iffy. Sam Kieth wasn't the best match for SANDMAN and he admitted as much when he left. But once Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III come on board, the art gets noticeably better and, well, more SANDMAN-esque. Look at the difference between Dr. Dee in "Passengers," where he looks like a pathetic little psycho, and the same character in "24 Hours" and "Sound and Fury," where he is a truly frightening presence (especially on p. 175, panel 4, "Because I can"). Not to mention the first appearance of Death at the end of the book (though this may have been removed depending on which edition you find -- it was never meant to be included at the tail end of this volume; in any event, it continues to be available in the second volume).
I'd also praise Neil Gaiman but what is there to say that hasn't already been said a million times?
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am 8. Juli 1999
Preludes and Nocturnes is easily the weakest of the individual Sandman novels... but still better than most of the funny-books out there. The first chapter is a self-contained story dealing with Morpheus' seventy-year imprisonment by an amateur English magician, and his escape. The rest of the novel deals with his adventures re-claiming his three tools: his sand pouch, his ruby, and his helmet. The second chapter is set-up for the rest of the story, featuring DC Comics' horror mainstays Cain & Abel. The third story is one of the best in this book, guest-starring Hellblazer's John Constantine, whose ex-girlfriend is in possession of the bag of sand. Part four is one of my all-time favorite Sandman stories: "A Hope in Hell", where Morpheus goes to the pit, running into Lucifer Morningstar (one of the best characters in the series), and challenging a demon to regain his helmet. Parts five through seven involve a super-villain named Dr. Destiny (not to be confused with the real Destiny, Dream's brother) escaping from a madhouse, going on a murderous rampage in one of the most horrific stories I've ever read in a comic. Part six "24 Hours," especially so, where Dr. Destiny slowly drives the customers in an overnight diner mad, eventually killing each other. But chances are, if you're buying this, and you've heard of Neil Gaiman's Sandman before, it's for part eight, "The Sound of Her Wings", the introduction of the most famous (and nicest) member of the regular cast, Dream's big sister Death. She shows up to take her depressed brother with her for a hard day's work of taking people to the next life, quoting Mary Poppins all the while. This is a fine story, a nice promise of the kind of story that there are to look forward to later on.
Neil's style was just coming onto its own here, but his lyrical, poetic style is for the most part intact, as well as his original, and at times terrifying ideas. The superhero stuff really doesn't work all that well. Surely Gaiman could have thought of some more interesting hero than Mister Miracle to aid Sandman in his search, and the cameo by Martian Manhunter, while nicely handled by having him recognize Morpheus as the Martian god of dreams, left that character grossly mischaracterized. On the other hand, I was impressed that so many characters that would be important later on were introduced here, given the feeling that Gaiman was still cutting his chops in this book.
The art style is a bit weak, compared to the other novels in the series. "Preludes" is the one that looks the most "four-color", more like a traditional comic. Sam Keith's (who was absolutely right when he describes his work on Sandman as "Jimi Hendrix playing with the Beatles") work is a little too cartoony, though I must admit, the man draws one mean Hell. Mike Dringenberg's style, on the other hand, works very well with Sandman, despite being a bit too sketchy, and not having enough detail in faces.
In closing, I'd recommend to anyone thinking of purchasing this book to either read it before the others, because it won't seem as diminished as it would after reading some of the other classics later on in the series, or after the others, since there are other books in the series that give the reader much more bang for your buck.
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am 26. April 2000
"GLACK. NAAAGH. FLEURGH." Such were my squeals of pain when forced by my conscience to only give this four stars, but this was written when Neil was still learning how to write down his stunning imagination and so does not rank quite as highly as the incredible latter Sandman books. Still, it is well worth buying. Praise, then criticism I think. Well, the second half of the book does not put a foot wrong and has one of the most chilling horror stories in the history of pretty much anything. '24 Hours' is truly terrifying with a ravaged man pushing people's minds over the edge in a cafeteria. 'The Sound of Her Wings' is a beautiful introduction for everyone's fave anthropomorphic personification, Death, who amazingly turns out to be a sensible, cute, perky young goth girl. The first half of the book is a bit more uneven. The opening story is written very well in the style of old English horror and has pretty good art by Sam Keith, who captures the oppressive Edwardian feel very well. The second story is also written well, but patchy and cartoony art lets it down. Keith's portrayals of Cain and Abel are excellent, as is the intensly cute gargoyle Irving (sorry Cain, Goldie)but his artwork for the Hecate and the appearence of Morpheus upon seeing his castle don't cut the mustard. The third and second stories are good once again with an excellent battle of imagination in Hell and everybodies fave occultist from Newcastle, Sam Keith's Hell is also pictured well, the oozing flesh and rubbery consistancy takes on a life of it's own, and the Hellfire club art is excellent. Unfortunatly we then come to the moderatley pleasing fourth issue where Neil makes some fundamental mistakes. Once of Sandman's greatest tricks is portraying a world where everything seems normal but where ancient beings and great magic live alongside us, only we never notice them because they move so quietly... unless your paths cross, then you are catapulted into THEIR world. Neil made the mistake of writing in some superheroes in this issue which pretty much crippled that concept whilst being a bit pointless when he could have chosen more plausible characters. Fortunatly he does not make the same mistake again. There are still gems in that issue though. So what we have in the end is a satisfying opening chapter that skillfully introduces a lot of big characters without ever seeming rushed. Buy it but be aware that the Sandman gets immesurably better in plot, script and art. A worthy purchase then and essential (otherwise it'd be like starting a book at the second chapter)but a flawed one. (Sam Keith left after the 4th issue, his other work is good, but he just didn't fit the Sandman).
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am 25. Juli 2000
Preludes and Nocturnes starts in quite a clichéd manner, with the stereotypical occult portrayal and the rather redundant phrases used in the spell used to evoke Death, but quickly accelerates. The chapter where Morpheus travels to Hell is truly excellent, and I swear that Lucifer Morningstar *is* Davie Bowie! The battle between Morpheus and an unassuming demon is quite invenitve. I absolutely detested the inclusion of superheroes, as I felt it sort of cheapens the whole book, and makes it temporarily childish. I am currently reading The Doll's House, and I will give you one piece of advice if you wish to read these books in order: take note of small, seemingly unimportant phrases, as they tie-in beautifully in the subsequent chapters and even different books! You must *NOT* miss this. I felt a little foolish reading a comic book at first, but you forget all this when the powerful story washes over you. Most definitely worth the money. Read them in order.
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am 28. Mai 2000
If this book only contained Issue #8, it would still be a must-have for Sandman fans. I refuse to give out ANY spoilers, and I would advise everyone out there who hasn't read Sandman to avoid seeing any. Let yourself be surprised. You deserve it.
Okay, Preludes isn't as strong as some others, yada yada yada - SO WHAT? It's Sandman. It's the first issue. You have to read it, and you can't have a complete collection without it.
I just finished reading World's End, and the last panel of issue 8 remains the defining image of the Sandman for me. There is a lot of powerful stuff in here, and I would suggest it to anyone who genuinely loves comics, mythology, or intelligent writing.
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TOP 1000 REZENSENTam 26. September 2010
Neil Gaiman was known to me first as a children's book author, before I came into contact with his novels through a friend. I was enthusiastic and so came to the Sandman series, which did not disappoint likewise.
A megalomaniacal cult leader tried to capture death, but instead ends up Dream, The Sandman in his captivity. People feel that something strange is going on, but no one is aware why. After a seemingly endless time The Sandman manages to escape and he begins to search for his gear ...
The story is a wonderful melange of reality and mysticism, fantasy at its best, soon you realize how incredibly important for everybody individual dreams are. The accompanying images drawn in a congenial way simply to designate as a comic is a gross understatement. These are incredibly detailed pictures, down to the last tiny precise which exactly reflect the atmosphere and the content of the text. Some of the drawings could almost be described as paintings. I'm looking forward to the next books I will read and view in any case.
With all the enthusiasm, why not the full score? Some of the stories seemed a little too intendendly, the inclusion of all the superheroes, for example. But eventually these are only trifles...:-)
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am 14. Februar 2000
I never was a comics fan, in fact the word comics to me used to mean cheap Superhero stuff. Used to, because obviously I had to change my mind after reading this first issue of the Sandman series. A friend loaned it to me, and said that I had to read it, since it would demolish my narrow-minded perspective on comics. And she was right. It's so smart, and sometimes deeply ironic. The intelligence of the writing had me literally pausing at some points to savour Gaiman's wit -- I was fascinated by the Sandman's perspective on hell.
So it's supposed to be a graphic novel, and it wouldn't be fair not to acknowledge the graphics also, but it was really a lot of Gaiman's writing that struck me.
Read one, read the rest of the series. In fact I've just finished "A Game of You". I'd have to say some of the issues are weaker than the rest, but are still of a particular thought-provoking standard.
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am 27. Mai 2000
Only giving it 4 stars, because I will save 5 for future issues which get better...
I am not going to waste words trying to explain why Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" is the epitomy of modern stoytelling. Enough has been written already and if you are just being introduced to this series as I have been, then you have already heard all about the stories themselves. I will just say that "Preludes and Nocturnes" is a MUST to read first. It's important to know some of the things that will be explained and referred back to in later stories. Gaiman goes to Hell and back (literally) and covers a whole spectrum of things, from the whimsical to the horrifying.
Gaiman's storytelling is masterful and believe me as someone who has taught English before, his books will someday (if they are not already) be used within some college course to learn the great literature that was produced in the latter days of the 20th Century. The self-absorbed literary intelligensia in this country will probably dismiss it as "mere comic strips," not to be elevated up to the level of true literature...they are pompous windbags. Some might even dismiss these stories as pagan or even (gasp) satanic. That would be nothing new in the comic world. Those folks are limited in scope and little of brain.
Am I saying too much? Wait and see. Better yet. Pick up these books and find out for yourself. I doubt you will be disappointed. If you are intelligent and want to be able to put a book down and continue to think about it for another week because it was THAT GOOD, then these need to be in your collection of must reads.
You will read them again, so forget about about trying to borrow them from a friend.
Describing these as comics is a great understatement and mischaracterization. To say it's a graphic novel probably is too weak, but it will do until some future generation develops their own classification of this literature ("graphic-literature?" --has promise.) Enjoy.
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am 13. August 1999
"Preludes and Nocturnes" is the first and most uneven of the Sandman collections. Neil Gaiman gives himself a large task of having to explain many things about the Sandman, thus justifying the lack of cohesion in the first few issues.
However, I think this is one of the best collections. The first story is a classic gothic horror tale that explains how Dream became mistakenly imprisoned for almost 80 years and how people all over the world began to sleep all the time. At the end, Dream tricks his captors and escapes. The other tales follow Dream's quest to regain his magical items and his kingdom, which is in disarray in his absence. Familiar characters from the DC universe show up here such as John Constantine, Hellblazer, Mr. Miracle and Martian Manhunter from the Justice League, and the old super-villain Doctor Destiny. Neil manages to use John Constantine and Dr. Destiny quite well but isn't sure what to do with the Justice League. Nevertheless, the Sandman's journey is an interesting one particularly his trip to Hell and his encounter with Doctor Destiny in a 24 hour diner that manages to bring out the worst in human nature. The last tale introduces us to Death and is a great tale about life despite being about well, Death. Neil Gaiman laid down the blueprints for the entire Sandman series here. Many of the characters would appear again in later stories and many events mentioned here would later be expanded upon. This is the place to start if you want to get into Sandman.
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am 24. November 1999
In this story we meet Dream of the endless. He is trapped by a power-hungry magician and kept prisoner for sixty years. After freeing himself and exacting revenge he goes on a quest for his items of power that a scattered across the globe...
"Preludes and Nocturnes" is the first of the Sandman collections. When he wrote these, Neil Gaiman didn't really know what shape the stories about Dream would take in the end, and this insecurity shows. Of all the Sandman books, this story is the one that remains closest to comic-book conventions and even has appearances by some costumed crime-fighters. Still, despite the emphasis on action and adventure, the excellent writer shines through: Gaiman handles the passing of sixty years in a few pages just as well as the detailed depiction of 24 hours in the diner. When he has a lot of space to characterize John Constantine the effect is just a sastonishing as the close, characterizing looks into the minds of minor supporting characters, and also atmosphere ranges from the dark and gothic of the introductory chapter, over the gruesome graphic violence of the Doctor Destiny segment to the complacent family meeting with his sister in the very end. I gave this book 4Stars, because Gaiman showed us that he is capable of evne better work in the following books. Still, this one is way above most books, be they comics or prose. (Dies ist eine an der Uni-Studentenrezension.)
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