A love letter to Jack Kirby dripping with nostalgia (Sandman Special #1 Comic Review)

Sandman Special #1

Written by Dan Jurgens and Steve Orlando

Pencils by Jon Bogdanove and Rick Leonardi

Inks by Jon Bogdanove and Dan Green

Colors by Madpencil and Steve Buccellato

Cover by Paul Pope and Lovern Kindzierski



Previously: In 1974, Jack Kirby came up with a new take on a classic DC Hero. The Sandman, the Master of Dreams, who watches and enters dreams to protects dreamers from nightmare monsters, became another vibrant character on the long list of creations that make Kirby deserving of the title The King of Comics.

 

What Happened:

This issue jumps right into the action on the first page, with The Sandman in his Dream Dome receiving a high level alert, being heckled as usual by his reluctant allies Glob and Brute. It seems a dream is going rogue and running wild throughout the dreamscape. After failing to wake the child whose dream is running rampant, the trio head into the dreamscape to intervene personally. The three of them work together to pierce the resistant barrier to the dream, and enter through it to find themselves face to face with another, more dangerous barrier, where a monster with many necks and heads is threatening to invade reality. The monster proves too much for The Sandman and his companions, but the three are assisted at the last minute by a mysterious hero that doesn’t say his name, but is basically a combination of Orion and Thor.

After being rescued by Thorion,The Sandman leave Glob and Brute in his care and heads out of the dreamscape and into Reality, where monsters from the Dreamworld have become tangible at the bedside of the dreaming child. The Sandman worries aloud that if they stay too long, the monsters won’t go away when the boy wakes up. The monsters attack The Sandman as he attempts to wake the boy up. As the monsters duke it out with The Sandman, his silent ally from before returns to assist, and gives him the time to wake the sleeping boy and dispel the monsters. The Sandman learns why the boy was capable of creating such powerful images, and heads back to the Dream Dome, satisfied and impressed.

This oversized special then moves on to a second story, this time revolving around a recurring character from Kirby’s Sandman comics, Jed Walker. Jed has returned home after a long time away due to the death of his grandfather, and The Sandman is concerned that his nightmares might kill him this time. He tells Glob and Brute that Jed’s Grief Goblins are too strong for them, and that Jed is forgetting the one thing that is strong enough to defeat them. The three ride out into the dreamworld on night-mares, to stop a fading dream from being forgotten forever. The dream they need is on a train, riding to a tomb where it will be lost forever, so The Sandman and his allies stage a good old-fashioned train robbery. They manage to break the dream free, which turns out to be the memory of Jed’s late grandfather. The Sandman takes the grandfather to save his grandson from the Grief Goblins, and then proudly rides off into the sunset.

The issue then features a classic Kirby’s Grabbers story, featuring reprints of short stories by Jack Kirby with strange monsters from the D.N.A. Project.

 

Thoughts on the issue: Beyond being a great homage to the character himself, this comic was by and large a love letter to Jack Kirby himself. Both stories featured a character that resembled the man, and celebrated his intelligence and unmatched creativity. Jurgens and Orlando both capture the bizarre and other-worldly atmosphere of Kirby’s Sandman, but the art by John Bogdanove and Rick Leonardi really make the issue sing. When sending characters into  or between other dimensions, Jack Kirby liked to create surreal looking collages of photographs to really emphasize the shift in reality the characters experience. Bogdanove recreates this technique when The Sandman enters the Dreamworld in one of the most stunning splash pages I’ve ever seen in comics. While the story doesn’t take a lot of time to explain the characters or history, the comic still presents itself well to new readers, and doesn’t get bogged down in continuity or rely on fans of the original comic.

 

One Last Thing: If you’ve never read Kirby’s Sandman, you still might recognize him as well as Glob, Brute, and Jed Walker from the second volume of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman.

 

Final Score: 9/10

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