Tonight, Jaybird and Mike S continue Endless Nights by recapping stories about Dream (JB), Despair, and Delirium (Mike),
A Doll’s House recaps here: KatherineMW took on the first two issues, then the next two issues. KatherineMW and Jason Tank then reviewed the fifth and sixth, respectively. Mike Schilling reviewed the final two issues.
Dream Country recaps here: Glyph reviewed Calliope then Jaybird and Maribou reviewed Dream of a Thousand Cats in the first review post for Dream Country. Alan Scott reviewed A Midsummer Night’s Dream then Mike Schilling reviewed Façade in the second.
Season of Mists recaps here: Jaybird reviewed the first two in this post. Jason Tank reviewed the next two here. Boegiboe reviewed the next two after that here and here. Ken reviewed the final two here.
Fables and Reflections recaps here: Ken and Jaybird reviewed the preview plus the first two issues here. Mike Schilling and Jaybird did the next two issues here. KatherineMW did the next issue here. Glyph, Ken, and Russell did the Sandman Special issues here.
Brief Lives recaps here: Jason Tank recapped Chapter 1 and Mike Schilling recapped Chapter 2 here. Reformed Republican recapped Chapter 3 and Jaybird recapped Chapter 4 here. Mike Schilling recapped Chapter 5 and Glyph recapped Chapter 6 here. Mike Schilling recapped Chapter 7 and Glyph recapped Chapter 8 here.
World’s End issues #51 (A Tale of Two Cities) and #52 (Cluracan’s Tale) reviewed here by Jason Tank and James K. Issues #53 (Hob’s Leviathan) and #54 (The Golden Boy) reviewed here by KatherineMW and Reformed Republican. Ken reviewed Issues #55 (Cerements) and #56 (“World’s End”) here.
The Kindly Ones recaps here: Mike Schilling recapped the Prologue to and Part One here. Glyph and Jaybird recapped parts two and three, respectively, here. Jason Tank recapped parts four and five here. Mike Schilling recapped issues six and seven here. Jaybird and Jason Tank tackled issues eight and nine here. Jaybird recapped ten and eleven here. Mike recapped twelve and thirteen here.
Endless Nights recaps here: Mike Schilling and Jaybird did the first two chapters here.
It’s very difficult to discuss this book without discussing the next one (or the one after that, or the one after that (if there were one after that, anyway.[/efn_note] If you want to discuss something with a major plot point: please rot13 it. That’s a simple encryption that will allow the folks who want to avoid spoilers to avoid them and allow the people who want to argue them to argue them.
We good? We good! Everybody who has done the reading, see you below!
So Neil Gaiman wants to tell us a story about Dream.
Didn’t we just do that? For, like, 75 issues? So I quickly dig that what we are being told is a very, very OLD Dream story. Moreover, it’s a very old Dream hangin’ with the Endless story. It’s not so old that nothing happens… but it’s old enough that some times happen for the first time. We’re even going to meet some folks that I believe we’ve only heard rumors about.
But I get ahead of myself.
We begin with Killalla (of the Glow) and Dream going to visit a palace (if you’ve read the 4-part Books of Magic, you might know what I mean when I say that this palace reminds me of the last Palace). Not only visiting a palace, but visiting FAMILY. (I am coming to realize that nothing good comes from large family gatherings.) Not only is Destruction here, but Delight (!) is here as well. Destiny ain’t coming. But Desire is in the plaza of Mimic Flowers and Dream says the craziest thing: “My love, you must meet Desire. My favorite sibling, if such a thing is possible. So funny and kind.”
After an initial meeting in which Desire really comes off as a petulant jerk (as opposed to the downright terrifying appearance s/he made in Brief Lives), we find out that those who are showing up are… well… they’re not exactly like us. There’s an old dude called “Rao” and a very young dude called “Sol”… Before that sinks in, Death makes her appearance and, yes, kills the mood. Dream lets Killalla know that she can go to her room with as little effort as it takes to wish herself there… and we meet Delight.
She’s a little, um.
I admit to thinking that Delight was further away from turning into Delerium than, apparently, she is. Was. Whichever.
Delight had two moments that made me give a smile and nod. The first was when she blurted out that “you really are just what you look like you are” and the second was when she gave her impression of what was going on at the Grand Meeting. Blah blah blah blah.
Back out in the garden, we find that the meeting has been suspended just long enough for us to learn that Destruction is responsible for what goes on in the hearts of stars… and when he finds out that Killalla is there, he suddenly becomes incapable of stringing two sentences together without putting his feet in his mouth. “Droll” was going to be the 8th sibling but, apparently, Destruction ate him. Whoops, the meeting is back on and we see that Destiny actually does show up. He asks Killalla if she loves Dream and tells her that thousands of years hence, she’s going to be Exhibit B or C in why Endless won’t be allowed to date mortals.
You’d think that they’d just hold up Dream.
Anyway, we see Sol hitting on Killalla, kinda, by saying that, someday, he’d like the life on his planets to look like her, kinda. I imagine that, as compliments go, this is one that she hasn’t heard before but before we see what she does with it, Oa shows up and drops the bomb on her that she’s not at a party for people who do a good job of representing ideas, but she’s at a party for the ideas themselves. This, understandably, freaks her out. Doubly so when Oa starts making out with her. How flattering would it be for your sun to start making out with you?
Well, apparently, flattering enough to risk messing with Dream Himself over.
Dream, having walked in on his squeeze making out with a sun, is now on a beeline to talk to Desire and, along the way, we see the first incarnation of Despair (!) talking to Rao about populating a planet with life but having one survivor from the planet’s destruction making it a thing of beauty. (For what it’s worth, I googled and found out that Krypton’s sun was, in fact, called “Rao”. As it turns out, Despair’s idea about what the survivor would spend his or her time doing was inaccurate.)
Anyway, Dream asks Desire a variant of the question “what the hell?” and Desire laughs… thus ending his/her tenure as Dream’s favorite sibling. Apparently, Desire has not known Dream long enough to know that Dream does not have anything close to a sense of humor. Now that he is in one of his moods, Dream asks Sol about life for his planets and Sol lets slip that, yeah, he’d like that but none of his planets have even awakened or anything… but, of course!, Dream will be welcome there! Dream, for some reason, sees this as a good idea as opposed to a bad one and fades out… and we find out that this is a story being told by Sol himself to Gaia… a pre-life Gaia, at that. So, at least, we have a timeline for this story. We know it was told around 4 billion years ago and thus probably happened around 4.5 billion years ago. Give or take.
So, all in all, we have ourselves an origin story for the blue guys in charge of the Green Lanterns, we have a origin story for Superman, we see Dream and Desire’s relationship change forever, we learn one more reason about why Dream shouldn’t date mortals, we see Despair’s previous incarnation, and we see that Delight can be kinda flaky too. For such a small, story, Gaiman put a lot in there. This was a good one.
This is a story both about Despair the character and despair the thing she’s the anthropomorphic representation of: fifteen portraits of one or the other. Gaiman has said he was originally going to do 25; fortunately for the mental health of his readers, he relented. They are
1. Despair herself, and everything that makes her personify despair, both her own and yours.
2. A priest who did not himself abuse his office by molesting children, but is made a scapegoat for it. His despair is matched by that of the Church functionary who hangs him out to dry in the vain hope of stemming the lawsuits.
3. A woman who loves plum blossoms, and nothing else in this world or any other.
4. A cat lady too depressed even to care about her cats.
5. A man who is the mostly abandoned plaything of a celebrity.
6. A star-crossed lover’s suicide pact gone wrong.
7. Despair’s few good memories making the present even more unbearable.
8. An man who never told his family that he’d lost his job, finally caught for the crimes he committed to keep his life “normal”.
9. Whatever metaphor you have for despair, the real thing is worse.
10. Despair despairs. And is nothing else.
11. Once you’ve lost what matters, despair is what’s left.
12. A man spends everything he has or could borrow to sue the man who raped his daughter. He watches the rapist and his lawyers congratulate one another on their victory.
13. A final exam on the theory and practice of despair.
14. A helplessly depressed woman takes steps, and becomes a helplessly depressed ghost.
15. Despair doesn’t represent despair. She doesn’t even embody despair. She is despair.
A catatonic young girl. She wasn’t always like this. But something happened.
A paranoid. He’s very ill. He sees conspiracies in birds flying into windows and being followed by dogs. (Well, the dog does look familiar. And he talks. And we may have seen the bird before too.)
A young woman who knows the secret of the universe: men bear children, but hide the fact.
They meet, and join forces.
An old man who lives alone in a room and writes an interminable fantasy about hell and torture and the evils of pleasure. (He seems to be a version of Henry Darger.)
A young addict, his brain addled by hallucinogens and Philip K. Dick novels.
They all come together. Daniel has called them, and he, Matthew, and Barnabas can only hope they’re enough.
Delirium has been assaulted. She’s withdrawn to escape. Can these five get through to her?
They can. Their insanities are the key. They can go inside Del’s mind, interpret its strangeness as they interpret the strangeness of the world, reassure her, help her, lead her outside herself. She’s herself again.
As are they, all reinforced in their delusions. Except for one.
The catatonic girl’s mother has called the police. Her daughter must have been kidnapped. She couldn’t have walked off on her own. But here she is, walking back, telling her mother about the people she met, including the other girl that hurt so much. This one is going to let her hurt go. It’s an angelfish. That turns into a raven.