We return to the world of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman epic, though trouble is brewing in his realm. 

The Dreaming 1 
Written by Simon Spurrier 
Pencils and Inks by Bilquis Evely 
Colors by Mat Lopes

The first of four new Vertigo books set in the SANDMAN UNIVERSE, previewed last month, THE DREAMING kicks off with the hope of building an engaging story for fans of the Neil Gaiman classic comic book. But something just doesn’t click for me with the first issue, and it doesn’t really fill me with hope for the future of the new brand.

Of course, it’s the continuing stories of characters created by – or modernized by, in some cases – Gaiman, who made readers care about even the smallest of supporting characters. Gaiman is a master storyteller and THE SANDMAN was his magnum opus, and most attempts to piggyback its popularity hasn’t really worked. In the first issue of THE DREAMING, we’re reintroduced to Lucien, the librarian, Matthew the Raven, foul-mouthed groundskeeper Merv Pumpkinhead and others. But much like in the series where they were introduced, they are little more than background players. 

The real focus is on Dora, a monster, who is wreaking havoc in the Dreaming and causing headaches for Merv and Lucien. With Daniel, the Dream King, having abandoned his realm, it’s doing more damage than it should, and the kingdom almost gets invaded by a minor demon from Hell. It’s only the quick thinking of Lucien that gets him to back off. 

As a fan of the universe Gaiman created, there’s enough here to keep me intrigued and willing to come back next month – and Bilquis Evely’s art is stunning as always – but I’m a little wary about the overall tone of the book. Starting with Dream missing – the conceit of the original story – could end up working well, or it could end up making THE DREAMING feel like a cheap imitation of a modern classic.