Searching Sandman – Issue 5

I reread issue 5 and was worried. Nothing jumped out at me like it had in earlier issues, but then it hit me.

Most of the things I’d noticed and written about were on a micro level. Canted angles to create the feeling of a dream state. Planting seeds which will pay off later.

But even though I’m probably missing micro suggestions like that in the writing, upon further refelction I did notice something on the macro level (at least for the entire issue).

I missed this at first, but Sandman five is a race. The last of Sandman’s three tools (the Ruby) is hidden. Sandman and Doctor Destiny want it. Though neither knows they are in a race to procure it, in actuality, they are. Dr. Destiny breaks out of Arkham Asylum and immediately  heads toward the warehouse it is hidden in. Morpheus needs to do a bit of detective work, but as soon as he knows the Ruby’s location, he heads off, too.

So, how do you represent a race in a comic book (especially a race where both contestants are in different places)? Gaiman uses parallel cutting to do it.

If you don’t know what parallel cutting is, it’s any story where two (or more) characters are in different places, and the narrative bounces back and forth between them. It usually culminates in the characters meeting. I found an much better explanation here:

Gaiman uses the first four pages to introduce Doctor Destiny’s escape Arkham and introduce the kidnapping victim who will drive him. This get’s Dr Destiny on his way. The next four pages introduce the dream of a DC hero that I honestly know nothing about, but Dream calls him Scott Free. This gets dream closer to an answer.

The next two pages follow Dr. Destiny and his kidnapping victim. She humanizes herself to her kidnapper (apparently and extremely important survival skill) though they remain on their way. One page of Scott Free looking up info Dream. The narrative ends with a cliffhanger (who are they going to wake up?).

Two pages with Dr Destiny and his kidnapping victim (we now know her name is Rosemary). We see them moving, but the big piece of information we need here is that Dr. Destiny has once fought the Justice League. Which leads gracefully into the introduction of J’onn J’onzz, The Martian Manhunter to the narrative. I’ve used this image in earlier Searching Sandman essay, but it’s a beautiful image, so why not.

J’onn knows where the Ruby is stored. He also knows exactly who Morpheus is (apparently The Dream King was well known on Mars. Which is good to remember. If you have a character outside of the norm, they can also possess knowledge outside of the norm. Your audience really won’t question it). We now know that Dr. Destiny and Dream are aware of the location of The Ruby.

Two pages with Dr. Destiny. Gaiman uses these to build the relationship with him and his kidnapped driver as well as plant the see that he “changed’ The Ruby. One page of Morpheus using dreams to travel to the city where the Ruby is held called Mayhew. He’s faster than Dr. Destiny, so he wipes out the lead by hopping from dream to dream.

The next three pages show Dream in the warehouse. He has won the race. He’s there first. He grabs the Ruby…

It does not end well. As I noted, Doctor Destiny has altered the Ruby. Sandman is no longer its master. This development is surprising, but organic to the story because of Dr. Destiny’s dialogue with Rosemary. Remember, fantasy readers will go with your rules as long as you are consistent.

Even though Dream won the race, he didn’t get the prize. But it was still a satisfying way to construct the story. Especially because it sets up for the most brutal comic book I think I’ve ever read.

My next post probably won’t be until Monday May 22nd. My goal for Searching Sandman was at least one post a week. Even though I’ve done two or three per week so far, but wanted to give myself the freedom to do less.

This next week I’m doing Tyler James Kickstarter Challenge and need to give my free time to that. If you’d like to join me, please sign up at and we’ll go through it together.


All images Copyright DC Comics. Used within the Fair Use Doctrine.




No comments yet.

Leave a Reply