Comic Book Canon: The Sandman. Issues 38-40

Welcome to a series that I am continuing. I am going to go through Neil Gaiman’s now-classic series The Sandman


Issue # 38

Title: “The Hunt”

Artist: Duncan Eagleson & Vince Locke

Collected in: Fables and Reflections

Plot: A man from Poland tells his granddaughter Celeste the story of a young boy named Vassily from the old country, who encountered a Romany peddler in the forest. She gave him a locket with a picture of the duke’s daughter in it. The boy ran away from home.

On the road, Vassily encountered a man, 1 who inquired about a book that he believed the boy was carrying. He asked the boy his price, and Vassily responded by showing the picture of the duke’s daughter. The man could not pay that price. Three days later, Vassily met the man again. The man offered a sack full of gold in exchange for the book, but Vassily did not want gold. One night, Vassily tracked a dear into a forest, but it was caught by a girl before he could catch it. He asked to accompany her back to her people and there, he met Baba Yaga, who exchanged the emerald heart of Koschei the Deathless for passage to the duke’s palace. He was trapped unwittingly in the duke’s dungeon.

After some time of waiting, Vassily was visited again by the man. Even though he was likely to die soon, the boy refused freedom. He wanted only the girl. The man took the boy through a magical door to a strange castle. They tried to sneak through the castle, but the man’s master, Dream caught them easily. The tall librarian admitted that he had lost a book from the great library. After Vassily told the lord of dreams his tale and his price, Dream had the boy return the book 2 and then they travelled to the bedroom of the Duke’s daughter.

The girl was sleeping in her bed, dreaming. Vassily saw that she was very beautiful. Now that he had seen her, Vassily handed her the locket. Turning to dream, he asked to be taken from there. One night, he travelled the forest in the shape of a wolf, and found his mate – the girl who beat him to the deer earlier. They lived happily ever after.

After the story is finished, the man tells Celeste that he wishes she could have met her grandmother – she had never let him forget that she had beaten him to the deer.

Historical references In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a supernatural being who appears as a deformed or ferocious-looking woman. In Russian fairytales Baba Yaga flies around in a mortar, wields a pestle, and dwells deep in the forest in a hut usually described as standing on chicken legs


Issue # 39

Title: Soft Places

Artist: John Watkiss

Collected in: Fables and Reflections

Plot: Separated from his father and uncle, Marco Polo wanders the Desert of Lop, trying to find his way back to the caravan. Marco hears voices singing unfamiliar songs. He follows the voices, hoping they’re those of his traveling companions. Finally, he hears a voice calling his name, and turns to see a man he does not recognize. The man asks him how he came to be there, and eventually, it becomes clear that the man, Rustichello da Pisa is from 30 years in the future, where he has already met Marco Polo, and is now recording the history of his travels.


They find Fiddler’s Green, who welcomes them to sit with him. Rustichello hopes to have some dream-women and wine conjured for their enjoyment, but the man explains that he has actually come to this place in order to escape his master’s frequent traipsing about with his current woman. He does, however, have wine. Gilbert explains that they are in a dream of sorts; one of the world’s “soft places”, where the edges of dream and reality blur together. There are few remaining due to cartographers and explorers, who have made the earth stabilize its form. After offering his new companions sandwiches, the strange man disappears, leaving the men alone in the desert. Likewise, Rustichello bids adieu to Marco, and soon the man is left alone, back where he started.

Suddenly, a pale, thin man appears nearby. Marco begs him for help. However, Dream has just managed to escape from his long captivity, 3 and so lacks the power to help Marco. The man offers Dream the last dregs of water left in his flask, and Dream is moved to use what little power he has left to return Marco Polo to the real world and his family.

Historical references: Marco Polo, Rustichello da Pisa, Niccolò and Maffeo Polo, Kubilai Khan

Keep an eye on: This is the first mention of Dream’s new lover


Issue # 40

Title: The Parliament of Rooks

Artist: Jill Thompson & Vincent Locke

Collected in: Fables and Reflections

Plot: One day, Lyta Hall puts her son Daniel Hall to bed. Daniel enters the Dreaming. Heencounters Matthew the Raven and Eve, who lead him inside to take tea with Abel. Their gathering is interrupted by Cain, who maliciously suggests that each of them tell a story to the little boy.

Cain: A group of Rooks is called a Parliment. A gathering of rooks will form a circle around a single rook, like in a parliament or trial. That bird makes specific calls until one of two outcomes occurs. Either the entire gathered parliament flies away leaving the lone rook alone in the field, or they all turn on that rook and peck it to death. The reason why the birds do this is the great mystery.


Eve: Adam had three wives. The first was Lilith. She was a powerful woman, who would not be subservient to him, and as such, she was expelled from the Garden of Eden, and would not return. The second wife had no name. She was made from nothing, before Adam’s eyes. He watched as her bones formed, and then her organs, and then her muscles, bile and skin. Because he had seen what she was made from, Adam would not look at her. At last, Eve was made from Adam’s rib, and as is commonly known, she and Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge, and were cast out of the Garden as well.

Abel: He tells that long ago, before the known world was a speck in space, Death and Dream went walking. They passed by two brothers who were fighting. The one brother had offered a sheep to the creator, and the other his crops of fruits and vegetables. The creator was more pleased by the sheep, and so the elder brother who had offered crops became angry, and killed the younger. Death came to him, planning to take him to a garden of her own. Dream, however offered the younger brother a place in his own garden, as a guardian of secrets. He was given his own house full of secrets to look after, but he soon grew lonely, so he visited Dream. Dream offered him a gift. When the younger brother returned to his home, he found another house full of mysteries next door to his own, and his elder brother was its custodian. Reuinited, the brothers lived side by side for eternity.

As Eve carries Daniel and Matthew from the house, Abel defies his brother, poking his head out the window, and revealing that it is not a parliament at all. The rook in the centre of the circle is a story teller, and the result is the other rooks’ response to the story.

Keep an eye on: Eve mentions Dream’s lover