Review: The Dreaming Volume 2: Empty Shells by Simon Spurrier, Abigail Larson, Bilquis Evely, Matt Lopes and Quinton Winter

‘Turns out it’s the diseased and the dying who feel it first when the whole world breaks like a heart.’

I have returned folks! I was lucky enough to have a mini Staycation in Galway with the boyf this week and I never got time to prep posts before leaving so this review is well overdue. As a lifelong Sandman fan (yes, there is a review coming for the Audible drama too) I have been more than happy to continue reading the Sandman Universe titles from the DC Black Label/Vertigo formerly. However The Dreaming, I have been struggling with.

Simon Spurrier and Bilquis Evely continue the stories of the characters from the award-winning The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman as Lord Daniel is introduced to the cold taste of heartbreak. And as expected, it’s not pretty.

Even the Lord of Dreams is powerless against the storm of lost love. As with his predecessor Morpheus, Lord Daniel will find love in the last place anyone could have hoped for…the realm of the mortals. And as with all romantic entanglements between mortals and the Endless, things are destined to be doomed. Meanwhile, a newly awakened mind in the Dreaming brings with it radical changes that may undo reality itself!

Collects The Dreaming #7-12

This was so hard to rate and even think of words for a review. I loved so much of the story, the art and the way this series is linking back to the original run but ultimately it was messy and disappointing with lots of the potential that was built on between issues 7-9 being left with so many plot threads untouched.

Think it’s best to start by explaining that issues 7&8 were the best so far in this series, both art and story wise. I love Abigail Larson’s art and often just stare at her instagram crying in Art Graduate. But the art works so well with this two part story. We see Lucien in recovery from his last encounter in the Dreaming in a hospital in the mortal realm while having Rose Walker tell her story to him.

I was more than happy to see Rose again, The Dolls House is one of my favourites of the Sandman stories and I often wondered how her direct heritage tied to the Endless might play out. She is not only confirmed as queer by flashbacks but she is a mother. Her daughter, Ivy, now the lover of Dream/Daniel. These both function as a wonderful standalone story with an ending that we do tie back to later and after this we return to where we left off at the end of Issue 6.

This for me is where the entire story fell apart for me and similarly ended poorly. Dora and Matthew take a trip through worlds using Dora’s powers to try and find the mising Daniel. The best part of this being the visits to old locations of the comics and meeting characters again. Other than that, the story is still not doing much in the way of exposing what is happening and relying on hints to keep the reader engaged.

Like I mentioned earlier the art remains to be utterly and totally perfect. Larson and Evely continue to keep the art to the standard this series has always had with breathtaking art to match the vast worlds and realms explored in the story. Evely and her spreads across pages to display the constantly expanding parameters of the realm of dreams works so well with Larson and how she uses smoke, vapour and cloth to frame panels makes me want to weep.

Honestly there is still a lot I love about this series. As well the most recent addition to the series, The Waking Hours, looks insanely promising. But all in all, this was a let down. Any other Sandman readers have a take on the story? Feel like this one is a great one for a discussion! Thanks for checking in everyone, happy reading.

★★★/5