As exciting as it is to be this close to experiencing the epicness of The Sandman, which is scheduled to launch on Netflix on 5 August, there is the real possibility of many newcomers being put off of the show because of feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of new concepts and strange characters thrown their way. After all, The Sandman is a story that took over 75 issues and multiple decades to tell.
So whether you’ve read every single page of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman or if you’re looking for a new fantasy show to watch, or even if you’re someone in need of a quick refresher – here is everything you should know before watching The Sandman.
The Sandman on Netflix – What You Need to Know
The Sandman A.K.A Dream A.K.A Morpheus A.K.A Oneiromancer
Known by many names but most commonly to characters in the comic by his official title as Dream, Dream is one of the seven endless and the main protagonist of The Sandman comics. Dream is the Lord of Dreaming and the ruler of a realm known as The Dreaming, and as such, Dream is tasked with supplying mortals with dreams and stories.
Now Dream is hardly the first character in the DC Comics universe to go under the moniker of The Sandman. In fact, the first DC hero to use the name The Sandman dates back to 1939. Then in the 1970s, legendary comic book writer Jack Kirby once again brought a character with the title of Sandman to shelves, and in 1988 yet another character would don the name.
However, other than the name, those other characters have little in common with The Sandman that Neil Gaiman would go on to create and publish, on and off, from 1989 to 2015. It is important to note that even though Neil Gaiman’s Sandman is seen as the one true Sandman in the DC universe, all the other versions still exist within the continuity. During the period that Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (or Dream, if you will) found himself trapped on earth, the other Sandmen all inherited a small part of his legendary powers.
This is where The Sandman truly shows its colours, and you decide if the story is for you or if it’s not. The Sandman, or Dream, is one of seven siblings who each act as an anthropomorphic personification of a universal concept. Together they are known as “The Endless”. At their core, The Endless are a group of typical siblings, fighting and bickering endlessly; however, they are also unimaginably powerful, and each has complete rule over their own kingdom.
The Endless are also not invincible, but they are immortal. Whenever someone or something were to kill one of The Endless, they are instead returned to resume their rule alongside their family. However, this ‘reincarnation’, if you will, is not infallible, and each time they are returned, they are different than they were before.
Another defining part of The Endless is identity. Each one of The Endless will change in appearance depending on who is currently looking at them, although in the case of Dream, he almost always appears as a tall, thin, pale man with black hair. But even though that’s how Dream commonly appears to label Dream or any of the other Endless siblings as part of a specific species, race, or gender, would be to misunderstand what they are completely. The Endless are beings with no proper form. They can be one thing one moment and something else the next. They can be neither, and they can be both.
In order of age, from youngest to oldest, The Endless are:
- Delirium (formerly known as Delight)
- Despair (Desire’s twin)
Most of the promotional material launched for The Sandman leading up to the series premiere show “The Helm”. In the comics, there are three artefacts that are vital to Dream and the keys to his powers. These artefacts are:
- The Helm: The Helm is shaped to resemble a gas mask. This design was chosen in The Sandman comics to pay tribute to the DC superhero “The Sandman”, who used to wear a gas mask. In the comics, this mask is Dream’s shield, and he often uses it for protection.
- The Sand: This is basically what makes Dream who he is. The Sand is a small, unobtrusive bag of dream sand that can be used to put beings to sleep or even to manipulate the dreams of those who already are. It’s also a sought-after and potent drug.
- The Ruby: The Ruby is the core of all of Dream’s power, as in it literally contains his power, and it is also what enables Dream to make dreams come to life.
A staple in The Sandman comics is Raven, the companion, soundboard, adviser and familiar to Dream. Ravens are a rather complicated system in the comics, and the most current “Raven” is Matthew, a recently-deceased human. Prior to Matthew being Dream’s Raven, however, that role was reserved for Lucienne, who was replaced after she graduated from Raven to librarian instead.
In the comics, Dream’s realm gets referred to as “The Dreaming”, where all mortals end up each time they go to sleep. This realm has two gates, created from the bones of ancient gods that lost a fight with Dream, one built of horn and one of ivory.
Dream has his realm and magnificent palace, guarded by three gatekeepers: a wyvern, a gryphon, and a hippogriff. In the comics, we first meet Dream trapped within the mortal world. By the time he can return to his realm, it’s no longer “The Dreaming” he left behind, but instead, a nightmare.
Another critical concept to note about The Dreaming and how it operates is that it contains a library that holds every single book that has never been written.
The Sandman universe is composed of various dimensions, one of which is The Dreaming, as mentioned above, and one of which is Hell. Hell plays an intriguing part in The Sandman, and Lucifer Morningstar, the fallen angel, rules it.
In the comics, it soon becomes apparent that Lucifer is one of the most intelligent and influential of all the angels. Having them in charge of a place like Hell makes it and them the most powerful character and place in the universe.
Fun fact that many might not know, the Lucifer TV Series is based on the characters created by Neil Gaiman for The Sandman.
We’ve already covered that Dream’s realm is called “The Dreaming”, and that’s where sleeping mortals end up. Aside from Dream, “The Dreaming” is mainly populated by beings known as “Living Dreams”. Living Dreams are the cast of characters that fill your dreams every time you go to sleep. However, as anyone knows, not all dreams are good, and neither are all Living Dreams. Some of these beings are nightmares, and Corinthian is one of the worst.
That’s nice, but what is The Sandman about?
What The Sandman is actually about is the million-dollar question. One that almost nobody, no matter how recently or thoroughly they have read through The Sandman, will be able to answer.
On the one hand, it’s easy to tell you precisely what the story is about, but that will inevitably ruin everything as the story only pulls together at the very last second. On the other hand, The Sandman is impossible to explain. So many threads required for everything to pull together only exist for existing and not to be a part of anything more significant. Yet, without them, the story would crumble.
The Sandman is a story that has a start and that ultimately leads you to the end, but all the stops it makes along the way are what bring the story to life.