Alright kids, I'm giving you a break from the marathon length of the past couple of posts, because this is another "in-between" issue. Granted, it's very very important that you pay attention, but this is a case of the infantry taking formation rather than engaging in battle.
So guys? Remember the creatures that had disappeared from the census in the previous issue? Keep an eye on them. We will learn much about their shenanigans.
Rose, again displaying the total self-involvement of youth, responds to the recent discovery of her grandmother and the accompanying unreality by...moving out! And like any teenager with family troubles, she gets involved with a circus of freaks (I say that with love!).
Of course I kid, because Rose is in town to find her missing brother, Jed. (And in case you weren't already convinced of the importance of Jed to the story, note the raven at Rose's window when she mentions his name.)
ON MY OWN PERSONAL FAILINGS AS A READER OF PICTURED WORDS
You know what really jumped out at me on my third re-read? That the "Land of Marvellous Dreams," where we meet Jed and Lyta, has numbered panels. This is not an issue with Doll's House, and I don't remember it being an issue in subsequent issues, but did anyone else have trouble with following the panels in Preludes and Nocturnes? They weren't intuitive, and not in a clever, subversive way, but a vaguely annoying sort of "i don't know whether to look right or down" sort of way.
I freely admit, I am not a frequent denizen of the comics universe, and I wonder if there's some code that other readers have that I'm not aware of. But like I said, it's clear in this trade and in subsequent trades.
Which is odd because the artists are much more experimental with the format of the panelling than in the first trade.
QUOTH THE RAVEN
Of course the raven is a spy, and of course Rose is the vortex (this was very very strongly hinted in the previous issue, but now it's official).
ON HORROR VS. ADVENTURE
I have tried and failed to articulate this point on other occasions, both here and in real life, about why I'm not totally convinced about the overt horror in Preludes (and I'm making no promises for clarity now). There's a lack of agency in that type of story; humans are powerless against a super-villain, which is not the easiest story to engage with on a personal level, because we all like to believe we won't just succumb like that. And I like to think most of us don't have such a negative view of humanity, that we'd just roll over and be manipulated.
So take the scene where Rose takes a dark alley as a shortcut; when she's accosted by a gang of hoods, she stands up to them. Which is not only awesome, but revealing of her character. Sure she gets rescued by someone else, but it's the attitude that counts (although it is the 1980's and I doubt that a gang of skinheads would react to a foppish man with a cloak and a cane with an "aw shit," rather than try to attack him right away
My god that action scene is written so well. In just two pages we know so much about Rose, about how she copes with trouble, about her values, about her own mercy. (Caveat: I love it even though it's an impossible coincidence that her savior is her absent roomate...)
So then, knowing that the Sandman world is not in fact a world of outright horror, the Corinthian does in fact become a terrifying presence to the reader. This isn't one of a million human feelings, this is specifically a dude who plays with eyeballs while booking a place at a convention.
Coming up: The Cereal Killer Convention! One of the greatest things in the history of ever.