Comic Book Canon: The Sandman. Issues 44-46

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


Issue # 44

Title: Brief Lives Part 4

Artist: Jill Thompson & Vince Locke

Collected in: Brief Lives

Plot: Somewhere in the North of Scandinavia, a Lapp Alderman named Leib Olmai 1 senses trouble after watching the Northern Lights. He transforms himself into a bear, and sends his shadow to return home in his place.

Dream and Delirium arrive at the home of Bernie Capax, however, they find that he was killed just the day before by a collapsed building. His son Danny leads the pair down to the office to show them that his father apparently lived a life that would rival that of a spy or thief.

With Bernie dead, they decide to see the Etain, and she lives in Ohio. Their driver Ruby refuses to go the whole 15 hour drive over night, and so they go to a motel. She gets them three connecting rooms.


In his room, Dream recalls having long ago spoken to his brother. Destruction takes Dream to a college where a scientist was performing a vivisection on an orangutan. Destruction explained that soon, there would be a shift in the thinking of man that would put reason at the forefront, and the chaos of destruction would no longer be needed.

Dream returns from his reverie to find that the room he is in is on fire. As it turns out, Ruby fell asleep with a lit cigarette in her mouth, and set her self and her room on fire. Dream suggests that something is trying to prevent them from succeeding. Delirium only takes from this the fact that she is now free to drive their car.

First appearance: Alder Man, Danny Capax, Tiffany Calhoun, Ishtar, and Nancy

Historical references The college we see is known as the Royal Society

Keep an eye on: Destruction foreshadows his abandoning his realm.


Issue # 45

Title: Brief Lives Part 5

Artist: Jill Thompson & Vince Locke

Collected in: Brief Lives

Plot: Ishtar 2 stops by her coworker Tiffany’s apartment, noticing that the girl still appears very sick after she spent the previous night vomiting.

Meanwhile, Dream has allowed his sister Delirium to drive their car, and her poor driving alerts a local traffic patrolman. She sentences him to be plagued by invisible insects for the rest of his life. In order to help Delirium drive more safely, Dream has Matthew the Raven instruct her. 3

Tiffany complains that she has never found a nice guy. Ishtar responds that she once found a nice guy, but it was a long time ago, and she had to split up with him because of family fighting and his job. She wonders where he is now. Arriving at the club, the girls’ topic changes to prostitution, and Ishtar recalls – with perhaps too much nostalgia – that there was once a time when girls would prostitute themselves outside of a temple.

Dream, Delirium, and Matthew talk their way into the club. When Ishtar catches sight of Dream she runs offstage in horror, and hides. Dream finds his way to her, and she expresses great bitterness that he had pressured her to end her relationship with his brother Destruction. He asks about Destruction’s possible location. She does not know. Before leaving, he warns her that some force is trying to stop them from finding Destruction by killing the people they are visiting.

After Dream and his companions leave for their next destination, Ishtar walks out on stage and, for the first time in a long time, she dances to her full potential. The power of her dance kills all of those inside the club, and eventually, the entire building collapses around them. Fortunately Tiffany has already run outside to safety – albeit completely nude. There, Desire appears to her and offers his/her coat, muttering that Dream had been warned of the danger.

Historical references The temple prostitution that the dancers discuss is associated with an Adonis/Tammzu cult in the Phoenician city of Byblus. Women were to shave their heads in annual mourning for the passage of Adonis into the underworld. Those who did not wish to give up theirbeauty served as prostitutes at the temple. Children born through such prostitution were thought to be sacred and virgin born. Money taken in by the prostitutes was given to the temple.


Issue # 46 4

Title: Brief Lives Part 6

Artist: Jill Thompson & Vince Locke

Collected in: Brief Lives

Plot: Destruction attempts the creative endeavour of poetry to limited success. His canine companion Barnabus is certainly critical. Destruction comments that he doesn’t dream anymore, lest he give himself away to his younger brother. Dream decides to call off the search. His sister is quite upset with him as a result, but he resolutely returns to the Dreaming, leaving her alone.

Upon his return, Dream locks himself in his throne room. He meets with Bast, the Egyptian cat-goddess. He hopes that she can make good on her promise of two years ago to tell him where his brother is. 5 Unfortunately, Bast has does not truly know where Destruction is. She has news that sixty years ago, he was seen in Paris, but that is all. After rebuffing the cat-goddess’ attempts to seduce him, Dream returns to his castle.

In Dream’s gallery, the window into Delirium’s world has been blacked out. He calls on his elder sister Death to help him. Death is angry with him. She forces Dream to realize his responsibility, and he agrees to go to Delirium’s world and set things right.

Dream apologizes to Delirium explaining that he had selfishly agreed to join her search because he had secretly hoped that he would encounter the woman who had left him recently. After Delirium presses Dream to admit that he is fond of her, she agrees to return to the search with him as her partner.

Historical references More books from Lucien’s library:

  • The Death of Kai Lung by Ernest Bramah
  • Chanticleer’s Dance by Hope Mirrlees
  • The Last Voyage of Lemuel Gulliver by Jonathan Swift
  • The Emperor Over the Sea by C.S. Lewis.

Continuity Touch: Mervyn Pumpkinhead confirms he was the bus driver waaaaaaay back in issue #5

My take A guy just wants to see a stripper and he gets blown up by a Babylonian diety.