As the time grew nearer to Netflix’s television adaptation of Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg’s The Sandman, my determination to avoid spoilers grew more and more difficult. The series has been the object of furious debate across all the comics websites I still peruse, most notably in fans objection to the casting of certain roles, especially that of Lucifer. No, we did not want Tom bloody Evans playing the part, and for good reason, but his fans shrieked loudly.
With the exception of a handful of photos showing the most prominent members of the cast in their roles, and countlress quotes by Neil Gaiman concealing his exasperation at the limited tolerance of an audience whose response to change is to stick their fingers so far into their ears and eyes that they meet without need of witches talons, I made it to the starting line pretty much intact.
Of course, I had not forgotten the very biggest spoiler of them all, which was reading issue 1 way back in 1989: issue 1 and every succeeding issue, swapping out for the first edition Graphic Novel versions as they appeared. month after month after month. There would be changes – the colour blind casting for one – and details that would be added or subtracted, creating or breaking new or old connections. But this was Neil Gaiman, and given the effort he put into bringing in Good Omens as close to the book as possible, was there really any chance that he would not do the same with this?
So it all unfolded, calm, austere, strange, not quite almost dream-like, but in a stately fashion befitting the imprisonment of Dream, of the Endless, for over a century (an updated detail: it was seventy years in the comic but the comic was thirty years ago), until his release, until his return to his ruined realm and his determination to rebuild and restore.
I’m not going to go into any detail. If you aren’t smart enough to want to watch this already, nothing I can say will cure this lack in you. The Sandman is quintuple wow, unbelievable in the best Kate Bush mode. The whole ten episodes dropped at once but there’s no way I can binge something like this. Two episodes a day, maybe, with at least six hours grace in between, maybe that much, is about all I can take. And if there doesn’t turn out to be one episode that immediately inserts itself alongside ‘Fall-out’, ‘If-Then-Else’ and ‘The Return Chapter Eight’ I shall be astounded.
P.S. The Guardian‘s review of the whole series, which I am now free to read, suggests there is going to be exactly that and I know which issue they’re talking about. If they can catch that, prepare to have your head blown off!