In Issue #2, we continue to face the consequences of Dream's incarcerations, this time in his own kingdom, The Dreaming. Everything has decayed beyond recognition, and only a few faithful servants remain (including the always hilarious brothers Cain and Abel).
We are introduced to many characters and concepts that will be woven throughout the series. First, we meet the brothers, locked in one of their recurring fratricidal spats. Then we meet Lucien, librarian of the Dreaming, who makes clear to Dream just how badly things have decayed since he left.
Finally, we are introduced to the Three Witches, variously known as the Three Graces and as The Hecatae (and many, many, other things throughout history). Through them, Dream finds out who has stolen his precious tools. One is John Constantine. Other items are with the Justice League of America.The third item is in possession of someone more mysterious, a demon in hell.
Much as I hate to recognize the fact, this is the same John Constantine as horribly miscast with Keanu Reeves. Constantine went on to his own series, Hellblazer. In the early years of Sandman, Gaiman was encouraged to insert as many DC Comics tie-ins as he could (the same page we are introduced to Constantine, we also have mention of the Justice League. Batman also shows up a few times throughout Sandman, usually in silhouette.) The character we meet in Arkham Asylum, John Dee, is a frequent villain in the Justice League universe as Dr. Destiny.
Basically, Gaiman's done DC a massive solid! I wonder how many minor characters of the DC Universe are now familiar to readers only as characters in the larger Sandman universe, forgotten in their original stories.
As yet, we are given little insight into Dream's own character. In his interaction with the Witches, we see he has a touch of the flirt about him. We know from his exacting revenge on Alex Burgess in the previous issue that he can be ruthless when challenged. But we don't really get an idea of what makes him tick.
The series becomes so much more about the Endless as it progresses, I'd forgotten how much these early issues focus on other characters.
Until next time!