• The Good: Audio adaption of one of the best graphic novels ever
  • The Bad: There are so many more issues to adapt!
  • The Literary: Dark fantasy ripe with history, mythology, and Shakespeare

The Sandman graphic novels, first published in 1989, forever changed the comic book scene. They are epic and dark and full of gods and magic, combining fantasy and horror and beautiful imagery. Adapted by Dirk Maggs and narrated by Neil himself, this first-ever audio production is performed with a full cast and sound effects, and transforms the Sandman experience from a visual delight into something entirely new.

First, let me begin with the fantastic stories that comprise The Sandman. Lord Morpheus, the ruler of the dream realm, is captured and imprisoned on Earth for decades. Eventually, his chance arises, and he escapes. But Dream is weakened, so to regain his power and rebuild his dominion, he seeks three former possessions that have been lost. His search takes him to Earth, to Hell, and to meet many tortured and powerful beings in between, including an array of DC characters. But my favorite interactions are with the mythological—including the muse Calliope, the three Fates, Lucifer, and The Endless, Morpheus’ own brothers and sisters.

Fans of Sandman love that it’s dark, even bleak at times. Some scenes are hard to read. But I also love the power of the Endless. Despite their immortality, they are surprisingly human and faulty, only occasionally learning a lesson. Their lives are big and long compared to ours, yet they exist both in and out of our realm, and some interactions with humankind are downright surreal.

Having thoroughly loved the original graphic novels, I was hesitant that an audio version could fully capture the magic and wonder that is the mysterious tall man in black with stars for eyes. But the full cast is a powerhouse! Neil narrates and James McAvoy voices Morpheus, but there are so many more who contribute. Not everyone’s voice is exactly how I originally read it in my head, but so it goes. In addition to the actors, the soundscape is downright cinematic.

It’s that specific cinematic nature that changes the original feel of the comics. Opening the graphic novel felt like a private doorway into a world that felt secret and sacred. As a reader you have time to linger on your favorite lines or a particularly captivating panel. The audio version is a completely different experience in that the bombastic soundscape and full ensemble performance carries you along on a journey that feels like a celebration of many, instead of an intimate party of one. I love it either way, and I can’t wait to listen to the next installment.

Highly recommended for fans of grown-up comics, and dark fantasy stories!