The Sandman on Netflix is a fantasy come true for both fans and non-fans alike.

Expand this picture Netflix’s The Sandman

The Sandman toggle caption
Netflix First, a word to the many anxious The Sandman supporters present:
Relax. They got it right.
Yes, the Netflix adaptation of the iconic comic book series took eons to make and there were many other failed attempts, but it just… works.

It is a successful portrayal of the Lord of Dreams’ appearance, tone, and plot as it appeared in the comics, which were written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and numerous other pencilers and inkers over the years.

But what matters most is that it works well as an adaptation.

The Netflix series’ grasp on the original text is gratifyingly looser than recent audiobook renditions, which rigidly followed to every minute detail of the 1989–1995 comic run (and as a result ended up sounding both obsolete and overwritten). It exhales.

Characters and plot lines have undergone both significant and subtle changes that modernize, sharpen, and streamline the narrative, which has now been refined to meet the unique propulsive requirements of serialized television.

Now, to everyone else discovering these tales and characters for the first time: Okay, I honestly have no idea how you’re going to react to this. The comic and the show both throw a lot at you right away. However, I believe there is a higher than average probability that you will finally start to comprehend why the rest of us have been nagging you for years to read the comic.

Expand this picture Netflix

switch to caption YouTube

Netflix Like sands through a window. Morpheus, often known as Dream, is the subject of The Sandman. He is one of a select group of abstract notions in The Endless (including Dream, Death, Desire, Despair, and others) that take on the likeness of quarreling siblings. Although incredibly strong and immortal, they are constrained by laws and obligations as they control various facets of human existence. For his part, Morpheus governs The Dreaming, a huge world filled with adventures, wonders, and grotesqueries that people visit while they sleep.

The comic starts in 1916, when Morpheus is imprisoned inside a magic circle by a self-styled British occultist and stripped of his official instruments. (The poor sap magus must have transposed one or two runes; he was trying to capture Death, Morpheus’ sibling.)

The first story arc of what would eventually become a 75-issue series is about Dream’s escape after spending many years in captivity and how he goes about undoing the harm his absence caused to both his realm and the waking world. The second story arc is on his efforts to capture dreams and nightmares that have gotten away from The Dreaming. Both of these first narratives are covered throughout the 10 episodes of the Netflix series.

HORRIFIC TO MYSTERIOUS Now observe: The beloved cartoonist has received many well-deserved honors and accolades. However, it is helpful to remember that the comic was not always what it is now. Over the course of its 75 issues, the comic evolved into a vast, expansive epic of myths and monsters that has as its topic nothing less than the ability of stories to change the world.

A passage from T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land appeared alongside a picture of Morpheus holding a pile of sand in his palm in the marketing materials for The Sandman, which was intended and promoted as a horror comic: “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

Expand this picture Netflix

switch to caption Netflix IMG2 – Netflix It was written by a young author who was still developing his style and emerging from the shadow of authors like Alan Moore and Stephen King. Consider the sixth issue, which is set in a diner and has a character torturing the patrons and workers there with one of Morpheus’ instruments. It received a lot of praise at the time, just like a subsequent plot involving sexual assault, child abuse, and serial killing.

Now that I’ve given these problems another look, they’re still horrifying, but in a clumsy, undeserved way. Their graphic shocks have the effect of a writer seeing what he can get away with while emphasizing glib cleverness over emotional sincerity. There is a fundamental emptiness that reduces the characters to a myriad of writing exercises intended to arouse our reflexive contempt rather than our empathy.

These horror-story components are still present in the Netflix series, but creators Gaiman, David S. Goyer, and Allan Heinberg chose to adapt them in ways that dig deeper and have a more genuine impact. The Netflix series is eager to give such characters more agency, more independence, more roundedness, and more life, in contrast to the comic, which, like so many narratives before and since, relied on violence against children, women, and marginalized communities to motivate its white-knight protagonist to action.

Every decision taken during the adaptation process, in fact, bends the story toward a telling that is more truthful, more humanistic, and more emotionally expansive. Writing that was formerly entangled in arrogant cleverness now reads as deeply involved and thoughtful.

Therefore, the series is basically positioning itself for a long run. If The Sandman receives all the additional seasons it deserves, its main story will develop into an emotional and intimate one about a man whose sense of duty and rigid, fixed sense of who he is prevents him from interacting with others and from going through the kind of emotional development required to adapt to a changing world. To embrace and effectively interact with such deeper truths, the comic’s narrative gradually moved past its cliched, reductive horror tropes. That job is already being done by the Netflix series.

Expand this picture Netflix

switch to caption Netflix IMG2 – Netflix The series is supported by its hero’s bony shoulders. Furthermore, the casting of Tom Sturridge as Morpheus has made all of that excellent, chewy, rewarding work much easier. With his alabaster skin, sculpted cheekbones, slim frame, and Robert Smith hair, he certainly looks the part.

Yes, he does deliver most of his lines in a throaty whisper that makes Eddie Redmayne from Jupiter Ascending and ASMR YouTubers come to mind (non-shouty bits only). But how else could you imagine giving life to the comic book character Morpheus, whose arresting word balloons were cleverly created by Todd Klein and were written in white with black letters.

It’s crucial that Sturridge conveys the conflicting traits of Morpheus that are constantly bubbling beneath his unyielding exterior—his arrogance, his wounded tenderness, his stiffness, and his yearning for connection. Additionally, his fragile rage and his capacity to almost, but not quite, laugh at himself.

The series deftly expands on the role of Dream’s librarian, performed here by Vivienne Acheampong; we learn that, as in the comic, her dedication is guided by her own highly personal sense of purpose rather than being purely borne out of blind obligation.

Boyd Holbrook’s interpretation of the maniacal, eyeball-eating nightmare The Corinthian, whose character is likewise significantly enlarged from the comic, exudes a nefarious Southern charm to good effect. Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Mason Alexander Park, who play two of Dream’s immortal brothers, bring to life the legendary aspects of their characters while giving them a very personal touch. Additionally, David Thewliss, who plays a would-be supervillain, seamlessly transitions between the roles of pitiful misery and cunning manipulator, and he is given a drive that makes his character’s objectives, which are murkier in the comic, more clear.

Expand this picture Netflix

switch to caption YouTube

Netflix THE COMPLEX COMIX As they follow the events of these 10 episodes, readers familiar with the comic will notice this in particular: How much more neatly and plainly the narrative comes into focus now that it isn’t constrained by the editorial guidelines Gaiman and his team once had to follow when working on DC Comics. The Netflix series simply unfolds Dream’s struggles and victories, confidently combining characters and storylines, without, for example, having to find a way to fit in a cameo by members of the Justice League, or pay obeisance to a shakeup of Hell’s ruling hierarchy taking place in another writer’s comic, or untangle various pre-existing DC characters’ backstories that had been battered into dust by a string of company-wide reboots, retcons

Fans of the comic will find that the adaptation’s alterations offer intriguing fresh takes on issues that are already well-known to us without changing what we enjoy. In fact, they make the scenes where comic book characters suddenly appear on film even more gratifying. (Every time I read the comic again, I get excited when the Fates show up in physical form; they’re among Gaiman’s most fascinatingly spooky, baffling, and darkly humorous inventions, and their Netflix adaptations do not dissapoint.)

Issue by issue, the comic just grew richer, bolder, and more engaging until it came to a deeply satisfying ending.
The Netflix series merits the opportunity to accomplish the same. Let’s hope it succeeds.

Subscribe to us!