Graphic Novel Review: The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country Volume 1 by James Tynion IV with various artists

The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country Volume 1 by James Tynion IV with artists Lisandro Estherren, Maria Llovet, Yanick Paquette, Andrea Sorrentino, Francesco Francavilla, Dani, and Aaron Campbell. DC Black Label, 2023. 9781779518415. Collects #1 – 6.

There’s a note at the bottom of the title page to remind readers that The Sandman was created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg, and to note that The Sandman Universe is curated by Gaiman. I’m not sure what that means but Tynion and all of the artists involved knocked this one out of the park. (Estherren draws most of it, with pages by the other artists used to great effect). It’s spooky, horrific stuff focused on the Corinthian (the newer incarnation of the nightmare), whom you’ve probably read about in previous Sandman graphic novels or seen in the first season of the show on Netflix. (He’s the murderous character with mouths for eyes, which he usually hides behind sunglasses. If you don’t know who I mean stop now and go read the original Sandman series in its entirety. I recommend the older collections that haven’t been recolored. But I digress.)

The Corinthian was created (and then uncreated and recreated) by Dream of the Endless to torment humanity. And now he’s collecting memories that he has for some reason, which he knows aren’t his own. He seeks out Madison Flynn, an artist and college student, who paints a figure she sees, another creature that also has mouths for eyes. The Corinthian even does a bit of research in the Dreaming, in a library there which has all the books everyone has never written. (There’s even a room of unwritten books about the Corinthian himself that he enjoys.)

I mean, if you’re a library person, I hope that’s enough right there, the promise of a visit to that particular library and a living nightmare doing research there. At least one of the Endless makes an appearance by the end of the book, and two creepy murderers on a mission, Mr. Agony and Mr. Ecstasy, are present throughout. There’s quite a bit of violence, an insane, insanely rich dude, and one unfortunate reanimated corpse, too. And at the end, in the final bit of the book, there’s a fantastic promise about what’s to come in the next volume.

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