Right. Page one. A HELL of a page one. It takes that stereotypical comic book angle and makes it into something much darker. Is it the black shadows? Is it the blond hair? Is it the open heart? No. I think it's the suggestion that we're seeing the universe in the body of Desire.
WHAT IS 'THE THRESHOLD?'
What is this place where Desire resides? I think the threshold is that place, that place where decisions are made between wrong and right. You walk in, and you face a long hallway, and you think your way until the halfway point, and by that point you know, you know if you'll keep going all the way, or if you're ready to turn back.
This is the nature of desire.
Preludes and Nocturnes suggests that humanity is built on hopes and dreams, while page one of this issue suggests it's built on what we do when faced with our desires. It reminds me of something that David Foster Wallace commented on in his essay on Fate and Free Will, echoing Socrates' comments at death's doorstep: Free will is the freedom to choose to do the right thing. Denying free will is choosing to do the wrong thing, and then denying responsibility by saying that said decision was fated, or destined. Free will exists as the choice to live an examined life (DFW). And an unexamined life is not worth living (Socrates).
How cool is Desire's domain? It's like stepping into an MTV set circa 1988, when rock stars were still cool, and the public was being offended for the first time by the pernicious new black Jesus incarnation of 'Madonna.'
Take note of the blank square as Desire peruses her sigils.
OH, THE ENDLESS DRAMA OF THE ENDLESS
More siblings! So it turns out that Desire, queen of The Threshold, is Dream's younger sister (and in a beautifully poetic turn, Despair is her twin sister. For what is the dark side of desire but despair?) And like any younger sibling, she is obsesses with ensnaring her older siblings in petty humiliations (in this case, the 3000 year imprisonment of Nada. So perhaps Dream's love isn't true after all, but manufactured. But we'll never know the correct answer, and that's ok, because that's the nature of story.)
INTRODUCING ROSE WALKER
A few things strike me on page 4, where we meet Rose:
- I know it's the 1980's, but Rose's hair? Wow. But also awesome.
- "Mom wasn't interested in dreams, back then." If that's not ominous foreshadowing, I don't know what is.
- "I don't remember," says Rose Walker's mother. The way this text bubble is set off suggests some future significance.
Is this the first time we see a character enter the Dreaming and encounter Dream's minions in the Dreaming? Well of course not, I forgot about Nada's encounter with the brothers Cain and Abel in the previous issue. THAT was the first time that happened.
But when Rose meets them, they are similar in character to how they are with Dream in Preludes. I look forward to learning more about how the Dreaming morphs to fit the various characters that dwell inside it from time to time.
This full page spread of Rose dreaming is absolutely beautiful. But not nearly as stunning as the next page.
LUCIEN TAKES THE LITERARY CENSUS
If I cannot possibly convince you to pause and spend some time with the art, then I'm pleading you to reconsider for this page only (if only so we can argue which stories are which).
Lucien wanders through The Dreaming, which is turning out more and more to be the domain of stories.
Panel 1: A hobbit house in the shire.
Panel 2: I'm thinking Arthurian legend. If anyone is more knowlegeable about the symbolism, do let me know.
Panel 3: Decadent swimming pools and mannequins? WHY IT MUST MEAN ANDREW MCCARTHY! Who not only starred in a Bret Easton Ellis adaptation (Less than Zero) but also in Mannequin. If I remember the movie correctly (and there's no reason I should, it's pretty terrible), there is a climactic scene in a swimming pool.
Panel 4: Great Gatsby. 100%. I know my Fitzgerald imagery (the ever-watching eyes! the art deco!). In fact my high school mandated edition of Great Gatsby pretty much looks like this on the cover.
Panel 5: Railroads and modernist architecture? Ladies and gentlemen, we are clearly in the Ayn Rand wing of the Dreaming. Which is interesting, because there's a strong argument to be made that the Endless live by an objectivist philosophy, and I know Neil Gaiman has had a lot to say about objectivism in the past, especially related to Steve Ditko.
THOSE WHO ARE MISSING FROM THE CENSUS
Brute and Glob: This is interesting, as they were once sidekick's to the old Sandman superhero character, but now they exist only in the Dreaming (and have apparently turned rogue).
The Corinthian: stay tuned with this one. Not only is he apparently a nightmare, he's dressed like Anna Wintour's worst nightmare.
Fiddler's Green: You know how I've been going on about domains? I have a feeling Fiddler's Green will blow this one wide open. But one word reveals much more about Dream's own domain: vavasour. Vavasour refers specifically to a type of a mediated vassal, one who owns a fief, but does so very low in the hierarchy. In plain English, the Dreaming is a feudal kingdom, at least in Dream's eyes. And like any feudal kingdom in history, when the ruler goes absent, the very nature of class and possession transforms, and some (like the Corinthian) imagine themselves above their station, while others (like Fiddler's Green) take the opportunity to look for a new domain.
THE KINCAID FACTOR
Unity Kincaid! Our very own sleeping beauty, you will remember, back from Issue #1. Remember how she was impregnated through her sleep? Well, Rose is her granddaughter. And oh! the self involvement of youth. Rose's mother has a touching reunion with HER mother, and Rose's mind immediately turns back to her dreams, not to the fantastical nature of reality before her.
Rose runs straight into the Kindly Ones, the Three Witches by a million other names, who hint at the questions she ought to have asked. But how could she? She is not an immortal being, she doesn't have the power to see all that is been and all that will be. So for the second time (this may be a theme in Doll's House the trade), we see a mortal sucked into the games of the immortals, without even realizing it. Without doing anything particular to deserve it.
But most importantly? Dream is watching the whole time.
THINGS I HAVE OMITTED, PURPOSEFULLY
The Vortex/The Annulet: At this point it's just a question. Further discussion will follow.
The last page: tbc.
COMING UP: Rose finds her dream home, complete with dream roommates (see what I did there?)