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

Sunday Shorts: 3 Mini Reviews (09.02.20)

Welcome back to Sunday Shorts! This is my first write up of shorter works in 2020 so far. Just in case anyone wasn’t aware, I changed job over the holiday period so most of January has been a settling in period for me. And being a typical Hedwig, I had four blog tours. No matter, lets talk about the shorter pieces I have read so far this year.

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.
But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.
On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.
But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth

Title: All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries)
Author: Martha Wells
Genre: Science Fiction

I’m not gonna lie, I read this between jobs in work. I couldn’t put it down! I don’t think I have ever related to a character as much as I did Murderbot. I too want nothing more than hours of books, TV shows and movies while avoiding all humans. This is a very touching story with really great characters. Its also definitely also one of the the most quotable scifi books I read in a while. It’s also an incredible start to a series. I’m definitely aiming to catch up for the new novel in May.

★★★★★/5

Coffee, New Orleans & Zombies.

Title: Bitter Grounds
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Dark/Contemporary Fantasy

This was an interesting one. I read this one afternoon while nosing through tor.com and remembered vaguely from one of the short story collections. I read it in about a half hour but it gave me such strange feelings. The summary of the story is minimal for reason, to interpret this story is to spoil it. All I will say is, from judging online, everyone has a similar and different explanation for it. Fantastic structure, memorable imagery and a very lasting mood.

★★★★/5

Lord Daniel’s absence triggers a series of crimes and calamities that consume the lives of those already tangled in his fate. Until he is found, his realm’s residents must protect its broken borders alone. But the most senior storytellers are tormented by invasive secrets, the warden Lucien is doubting his own mind, and beyond the gates, something horrific awaits with tooth and talon. Only Dora, the monstrous, finds opportunity in madness, stealing dreams for the highest bidder. But she has no idea how deep the danger lies. Meanwhile, in Daniel’s gallery, something new is growing…

Title: The Dreaming Vol. 1: Pathways and Emanations
Authors: Simon Spurrier, Bilquis Evely (Illustrator), Neil Gaiman
Genre: Graphic novel, fantasy, horror

Okay, if for some daft reason you are not after reading The Sandman series, you are wandering into MASSIVE SPOILER TERRITORY. This is your final warning.

I am trying to catch up with all my comics recently and this is one of my main series I have on my pull list. This was a wonderful reread but again, I feel so many complicated things towards this continuation. Daniel being absent, Lucien literally falling apart and to be honest that ending too? I am very stiff to accept it but I’m in no way dis encouraged to keep reading and get up to date. I did like seeing more of the nightmares and the art by Everly is AMAZING.

★★★★/5

That’s all I have this week for Sunday Shorts! I do have a plan to do a series comparing the new Sandman Universe to the original series but that won’t be for another while. Also, is it really a Sunday Short if I don’t discuss one Neil Gaiman work?

Have you read any of these? (Please say Sandman) Do tell me in the comments! Happy reading everyone!