Recently, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt stepped down from being involved with the film adaptation of the comic book Sandman as a result of creative differences. The importance of Sandman can’t be over stated as it was a change from the usual Superhero fare. It also makes for a great study of comic art history and techniques. Written by Neil Gaiman from 1989 to 1996, and more recently Sandman: Overture which concluded in 2015, the fantasy series starts out rooted in the DC universe and a number of DC landmarks and characters pop up throughout the story but it’s framed in such a way that knowledge of the DC universe isn’t needed to enjoy the comics. By the end of the first volume it grows into its own unique world. If you loved Neil Gaiman’s book American Gods you’ll most definitely like this comic as it uses many of the same elements. In both stories, gods remain a part of the world so long as there are humans to believe in them. Sandman, however, does not focus on the gods but on one of the seven Endless. The Endless can not cease to exist and represent different facets of humanity: Dream, Destiny, Death, Destruction, Despair, Desire and Delirium.
Dream, most often referred to as Morpheus, is the protagonist and the story opens with his capture by a human skilled in magic. It was not the human’s intention to take Morpheus, the trap was meant for his sister Death so that he and everyone else could live forever. After being held prisoner for about 80 years, Morpheus escapes and begins his journey to reclaim his three objects of power and to restore his realm of the dreaming. His journey and the fallout of his absence is chronicled over ten volumes. Some volumes of the series are centered around Morpheus, others are story arcs centered on secondary characters, and some are collections of stand alone issues.
Dream is a stand-offish, morose and serious character who only concerns himself with his duties and adhering to custom. He reminds me very much of Ned Stark from Game of Thrones. Despite his melancholy demeanor, you develop an attachment to the character from watching him change through his mistakes. His sister Death is very much the opposite and instantly like-able. She has a happy disposition but is also very wise. The two don’t often share scenes together but they make the best big sister/little brother duo. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston would make a perfect Death and Morpheus if the film adaptation were to ever come to fruition.
There are a number of ways in which a pairing could be done but in the end I decided to pair on a volume by volume basis.
Trigger Warning: The “dead trans woman” trope occurs in this series but is not discussed below. For more information to help you decide if this series is for you I suggest The Mary Sue’s article on the matter.
Volume 1: Covers Dream’s imprisonment and escape. He has no time to rest and must collect his instruments of power before restoring his realm. There’s a lot of despair and bitterness to be felt so a rye or a spicy highland single malt like Glenfiddich would do the trick. Nothing sweet or floral.
Volume 2: Now trying to repair his realm, Morpheus discovers that four dreams have left to the waking world and must bring them back to the dreaming. Overall it’s a dark collection, including a convention of murderers. A rich sherried whisky like Highland Park’s Dark Origins, The Dalmore 15 or Aberlour A’Bunadh, all with rich evolving palates will be able to keep up with this story.
Volume 3: This is a collection of four independent stories, one of which involves dreaming cats. Given the variety of stories I suggest picking your favourite scotch blend. Recently we’ve particularly enjoyed Sheep Dip although anything by Compass Box is another solid choice.
Volume 4: Morpheus goes on a trip to hell and gets more than he bargained for. I can’t help but recommend Bowmore’s Devil’s Cask for anything hell related. Arran’s Devil’s Punch Bowl is another option but if you’re looking for something with a low price point then Jim Beam’s Devil’s Cut is the one for you.
Volume 5: Follows the story of Barbie (not the doll) in her dreamworld that she must save from the Cuckoo. The fairy tale atmosphere calls for something sweeter. Try a bourbon like Maker’s Mark, a single malt with honey notes like Speyside’s Balvenie, or Bushmills Irish Honey flavoured whiskey.
Volume 6: Another collection of short stories taking place over various time periods and around the globe. Try an international whisky like Amrut Fusion.
Volume 7: Dream and his youngest sister Delirium go on an adventure to find their lost brother Destruction, hilarity ensues! These two make an odd couple. Dream is very much the mature older brother who has no patience for little sister antics. I’d definitely go for a light bourbon with this one or, in the spirit of Delirium, grab things at a random and mix a cocktail. Bonus points for fun colours and glitter.
Volume 8: A “reality storm” is happening so this volume takes place at an inn where travelers are taking refuge. Storms pair so well with coastal whiskies such as Ardbeg or Talisker Storm. Or do as the characters are doing and grab a pint of beer.
Volume 9: I don’t want to give anything away but I will say this is a very sad tale. Nonetheless I’d go with Glenfiddich’s Cask of Dreams.
Volume 10: Pour a dram of whatever you’d drink at a funeral wake.