Best Sandman graphic novel

James D.

Which volume was the best?  

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Man, talk about a difficult choice. Great subject.

The first one, despite having the awesome Death story at the end, is probably the weakest of the lot - Gaiman has made no secret that he felt he didn't start to hit his stride until issue eight.

The Dolls House is a better story, but a lot of people just don't like it - well, a lot of males don't anyway. It's one of the more feminine stories. There's a lot of good stuff in it, but it's weird having Dream not being the main character for such a long story.

Dream Country is an awesome collection of stories, and in that sense, probably the strongest - however, I can't pick it as a result. If it's the best Graphic Novel, it's going to have to be a continuous story, for me at least.

For Sandman fans, I expect Season of Mists to have a very high showing - it's the most action paced story, and it's got Lucifer as a that awesome twist involving the key. It was, in fact, my second choice. It's a great introduction to the whole series as well, for newer readers.

For Fables and Reflections, see Dream Country.

For Brief Lives, see Dolls House. It's very similar, and again, more feminine...which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Delirium is just awesome in this, and the ending of the story is out of nowhere. 'There is an oracle who is of this family...'

For Worlds End, it's probably both the weakest collection of short stories, and in some ways, the most interesting. There's some great stories in here, but they're just not as much fun as the previous collections. For the seasoned fan though, there's some really good stuff in here.

Then we get to my pick - The Kindly Ones. Just a fucking awesome, awesome story, and while the art is offputting at first, once you get into it, it's perfect. It reads best as a graphic novel, rather than individual issues, as well. There's just so much good stuff in here, it's untrue. However, if you read it, avoid the introduction at all costs, because it gives away the ending...however obvious the ending is in retrospect.

The Wake is gorgeous, but it's a comedown after The Kindly Ones...the slowing down after the action. The perfect ending, but not a better graphic novel.

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Damn, I could've SWORN I'd posted in this thread already. I'll just try to go through all of them briefly, like Darque did...

Preludes & Nocturnes - has some really amazing stories towards the end ('24 Hours', 'The Sound & The Fury' and 'The Sound of Her Wings'), but as a whole the story feels scattered. Gaiman hadn't found his footing yet, and I'm glad the introduction of other DC Universe characters stopped after this volume, for the most part (though I still love Constantine).

The Doll's House - Not one of my favorites, though it has a lot of great ideas, and the Cereal Convention is a blast. I dunno, it felt rather similar to the first one, in the sense that it's mostly about Morpheus collecting stuff than striving for a single goal. In Preludes, he's looking for his lost artifacts, and in Doll's House he's looking for lost dreams. Eh.

Oh, CRAP, almost forgot to mention that a standalone story in this volume introduces Hob Gadling, probably my favorite recurring non-Endless character, in one of my favorite stories in the whole series. Awesome, awesome story.

Dream Country - Really really cool short stories, but can't be considered the best single story, it's not really fair. Has one of the three stories where Shakespeare makes an appearance, which is awesome (as is the Charles Vess art).

A Season of Mists - Great story, and a lot of fun due to cameo appearances by dozens of gods from different religions. The Nordic gods rule all in the brief period they're in the story. Lucifer's one of the best characters in the series as well, and Gaiman does a great job of making him rather well-rounded and motivated.

A Game of You - Bah. My least favorite out of the ten volumes. Haven't read it in a long time, and it fits right in with the pattern of alternating male/female storylines, but I didn't seem to enjoy it as much as the other volumes. I can't deny how well written it was, but it wasn't my cup of tea.

Fables & Reflections - In my mind, the best out of the three short story collections. "Ramadan" is one of the best Sandman stories from the whole series (P. Craig Russell RULES.). The stories involving Orpheus, Emperor Norton, Marco Polo, and Augustus Caesar are all fascinating reads, especially if you know the myths and stories surrounding the characters.

Brief Lives - YEEEEEESSSSS!! Far and away my favorite Sandman story, though this doesn't seem to be the popular opinion. This story did more to develop the character of Morpheus than the previous six volumes combined. Delirium was awesome as well, as was the character they meet at their destination, and his animal companion...

Also, I love Jill Thompson's work, this is probably my favorite art for an entire Sandman story out of the ten volumes.

World's End - Don't remember much about this one, other than it had a story that made me care for Prez. That's a pretty damn big accomplishment. The story about being inside a city's dream is really good, too.

The Kindly Ones - Everything comes to a head in this volume, and marvelously so. Pretty much all the characters from the entire series are here in some form. 'Offputting' is a great way to describe Marc Hempel's art, indeed, but it's also extremely expressive. Really. Kinda wish Kevin Nowlan had drawn the entire thing, rather than just the little opening number, but oh well. The range of emotions this book covers is just insane. Beautiful stuff. Also, while reading, notice the similarity between two detectives that come looking for Daniel, and the two detectives from Alan Moore's "Watchmen"...hmmm....

Yes, avoid the horrendous spoilers in the introduction, to which I fell victim.

The Wake - Perfect ending to the series, with some of the best art in the series too. Probably not the best story, because it really relies on the events of all the other volumes for its emotional impact, but amazing nonetheless.

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