Comic Book Canon: The Sandman. Issues 47-49

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

Issue # 47

Title: Brief Lives Part 7

Artist: Jill Thompson & Vince Locke

Collected in: Brief Lives

Plot: Destruction decides to practice the art of cooking, explaining to his canine companion Barnabus that even cooking is a method of creating. Barnabus has little enthusiasm or hope for Destruction’s ability to create food.

Meanwhile, Dream and Delirium have decided to resume their search for their brother. Dream decides that their next step should be to speak to their brother Destiny in his garden. Each maze throughout the universe is connected at its core to Destiny’s domain. Destiny’s advice is merely that they give up their search, but he knows already that they will not. Cryptically, Destiny states that pursuit of Destruction will have negative side-effects for Dream, and that the woman Dream pines for will never be his again. Finally, all Destiny can tell Dream is that they need an oracle who can tell about the Endless. The only such oracle that they know of is Dream’s own son Orpheus.

Dream and Delirium arrive on the Greek isle where Orpheus’ shrine lies. Dream reluctantly speaks with his son while Delirium plays beside the gravestone of Johanna Constantine. After a time, Dream returns with the knowledge they were seeking, admitting that the information came at a cost. Andros’ son Kris rows the pair to a neighbouring island where it turns out that Destruction has been staying for some time. Finally, Destruction greets his siblings and welcomes them into his home for some dinner.

Issue # 48

Title: Brief Lives Part 8

Artist: Jill Thompson & Vince Locke

Collected in: Brief Lives

Plot: Over dinner, Delirium explains the lengths to which she and Dream went to find Destruction, and Dream tells of how the rest of the family is; more or less the same. Finally, Destruction asks what they plan to do now that they’ve found him.

Delirium hopes that he will come back with them. Dream explains that he came out of honour, having witnessed a mortal named Ruby killed as a result of their search. Destruction comments that Dream’s feelings about Ruby suggest that he has changed. He admits that Ruby’s fate was likely the result of safety mechanisms he set up against being found when he left (as well as the deaths of Bernie and the attacks on others.)


Destruction explains that he left because the Endless are not the agents of the domains over which they preside. Destruction occurs with or without him. Sadly, Destruction resigns himself to the fact that he must leave again, in order to escape his family.

Before going, he wraps up his sigil – a sword – in his handkerchief. He bequeaths Barnabus to Delirium. He bids each of them farewell, and walks off into the stars. Dream prepares to face his son one more time. He has a debt to repay him; he must kill Orpheus.


Issue # 49

Title: Brief Lives Part 9

Artist: Jill Thompson & Vince Locke

Collected in: Brief Lives

Plot: Dream visits Orpheus in his temple. Though he is scared, Orpheus has asked his father to give him death. Reluctantly, and with sensitivity, Dream picks his son’s head up, kisses his forehead, and then takes Orpheus’ life.

Dream wanders out of the temple, his bloody hand dripping into the grass underfoot, and sprouting new blood-red flowers where it lands. He joins his youngest sister Delirium outside, and they are then joined by their sister Despair. She asks after Destruction, and she is pleased to know that he spoke fondly of her.

Despair returns to her gallery, bringing with her two of the red flowers. She finds her twin Desire waiting there, and offers him/her one of the flowers. Desire is somewhat melancholy; perturbed by the fact that Dream will have to pay a great price for seeking out Destruction. He/She admits to her sister that she is scared, and Despair admits that she is too.

Dream sends a message to Andros that his last task as guardian of Orpheus should be to bury his head safely, but erect no marker. He returns to his castle, where he recognizes the pendant around Nuala’s neck as having once belonged to the woman who left him.

In the privacy of his quarters, Dream finally washes the blood from his hands, and in the basin, he sees an image of his son. He tells the boy that he should have gone to his lover’s funeral to say goodbye to Eurydice. 1 Having done this, Dream sits down and laments.

Keep an eye on: Morpheus killing his son is the event that triggers the endgame of the story. Interesting that it occurs two thirds through the run. Act Three is about to start.

My take I find it interesting that Destruction chose the neighboring island to Orpheus. Either he felt Orpheus’s presence would keep him hidden or keep Dream away, or he wanted to be found, or ultimately he wanted to be close to the family. It is if course Destruction who sees the change in Dream, and their conversation foreshadows Morpheus’s fate. I love Barnabas so much.