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The Sandman: Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman
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The Sandman: Endless Nights

by Neil Gaiman, Glenn Fabry (Illustrator), Milo Manara (Illustrator), Miguelanxo Prado (Illustrator), Frank Quitely (Illustrator)3 more, P. Craig Russel (Illustrator), Bill Sienkiewicz (Illustrator), Barron Storey (Illustrator)

Other authors: Chris Chuckry (Colorist / Separator), Lovern Kindzierski (Colorist / Separator), Todd Klein (Letterer), Dave McKean (Cover artist)

Series: The Sandman (coda), The Sandman: Death (Short Story 2003)

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Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
To the best of my knowledge there have been three Gaiman-written additions to the Sandman universe since the core series was completed, not including the spin-offs. The Dream Hunters, Overture, and Endless Nights. I didn't really care for Dream Hunters, I loved Overture, but this is the one that feels most like the original series. It is classic Sandman in both tone, quality, and art. With the possible exception of Despair and Delirium's stories, you could put these right in with the original series and they wouldn't seem at all out of place. Which makes the fact that I've owned this book for years even stranger. I don't know why it took me so long to get around to it.

Death and Venice (5/5)
A rich count/alchemist seals off his island estate from time so that nobody ever ages or dies and they live the same day and night for eternity. In modern day the count's fortress has been burned down and ravaged by time and all that stands are stone ruins and an old iron gate. A young boy picnics with his family on the island and he meets Death of the Endless, who encourages him to try breaking down the gate, but he can't. Now a grown man serving in the military and on leave, he revisits the island and finds Death once again sitting in front of the gate, which she again encourages him to break. Bigger and stronger, he's able to kick the bars free of their crumbling stone frame, taking them back to 1751 and exposing the count and his supporters to the reality of time and death once more.

I absolutely adored this story. It's classic Sandman. It was familiar, comfortable, and deeply satisfying. The perfect way to ease you into a collection. The way it alternates between the count's story and the soldier's story is fantastic. You don't understand how they're related at first, but then it flashes back to the soldier's childhood memory of standing in front of the ruins talking to Death and it clicks. Such a fantastic feeling.

What I've Tasted of Desire (4/5)
In a small village a woman falls in love with a man, winds up desiring him with such intensity that the Desire shows up and has a talk with her. A talk that changes her, makes her more confident, more alluring, more in control, and allows her to win the love of the fickle man she desires and, later, to trick the men who kill him and bring his head to her dinner table by making them desire her enough to wrestle each other naked on the floor until the village men come back from hunting and slaughter the intruders. This is also classic Sandman, perhaps even moreso than the first story. It probably wouldn't have been one of the most memorable were it in the original series though. It's perhaps a little too familiar, and a little too simple. None of those standalone stories from the original series were bad by any means, but there were definitely some that I read and didn't spend much time thinking about afterwards, and I'd put this right in line with those. Very good, but not among the best of the best for me.

The Heart of a Star (5/5)
How could Dream's story be anything but incredible? First of all, there's a tiny framing device where the Sun is telling a story to the Earth about a time he met Dream when he was very young. How goddamn cool is that? Immediately I saw similarities to the newest Sandman comic, Overture. That story is about a star going mad, and Dream winds up talking to anthropomorphized stars, which I thought was clever. Turns out, Gaiman already did the talking star thing over a decade earlier in this story.

Anyway, this story is about Dream bringing his new girlfriend (an ancestor of the guardians of the universe with incomplete control over her green lantern energy) to meet his family at a party/business event where stars and other big players in the universe discuss politics, essentially. A pre-Delirium Delight shows up, and a previous incarnation of Despair talks to Krypton's star, Rao, about the idea of a lone survivor of a world-shattering event that continually mourns his lost home, an allusion to Superman.

When Dream's girlfriend meets the star of her own solar system, it quickly becomes clear that she was only cool with all of this because she didn't truly understand what was happening. She freaks out a bit, but then makes out with and ultimately falls in love with her sun, who has watched over her all her life. It's implied that Desire may have had something to do with it. Dream walks in on them kissing, gets pissy, and leaves the party. This scene has the best quote:"I think he saw us."
"Why should that scare you? You are a sun."
"I am a sun, certainly. But he is Dream. They say Death is kinder than he is."
Fifteen Portraits of Despair (3/5)
My least favorite of the collection. It's basically a bunch of quick vignettes of various people in various life situations that cause them despair, or ruminations on the nature of despair as an abstract concept. Not having much text, it's mostly a showcase for the art, which I was just not that into. Cool idea. Execution could have been better.

Going Inside (4/5)
This, along with Despair, make up the two "weird" stories of the collection. The art style is similar at points, having that chaotic, rough sketch, abstract look. It's much better realized, though, and it's mixed in with a couple different styles. The story is a bit hard to follow, which I suppose makes sense for a story about Delirium. Near as I can tell, it's about several mentally ill people being brought together to save Delirium from some kind of struggle she's having within herself. She's retreated so far into her realm of madness due to some kind of hurt she's experienced and only the insane can venture safely in and bring her back out. Her story is paralleled by one of the people who help her, a woman who retreated into a state of catatonia after being assaulted but after saving Delirium she comes out of it, ready to face the world again. Which will be hard seeing as how she's still insane, but hey, it's still better I guess?

On the Peninsula (5/5)
A woman has recurring dreams about various apocalyptic scenarios that start to bleed into her waking life. She agrees to join a top secret archaeological dig that her friend sets her up with because she feels a big change will help get rid of her dreams. The dig is at a peninsula that is unearthing artifacts from the future. Pennies with dates fifty years in the future, high tech ammunition that hasn't been invented yet, time magazines that predict a coming war, etc. Also on the peninsula are Destruction and Delirium, who the woman assumes are hippie tourists. She becomes infatuated with Destruction, but eventually the US government gets wind of the high tech weapons they've found and secures the site, forcing the woman to return home. After she leaves the peninsula explodes in a flash of light, never to be seen again.

Endless Nights (5/5)
I imagine it's very hard to write a story about Destiny. He is the most mysterious of the Endless, and the one with the least personality. Gaiman took one of the only approaches you could and simply wrote a short, powerful vignette about Destiny's nature, about what it means to be him, about what it means to be us in a universe where he exists. There aren't many words. Much like Despair, it's an art showcase, and the art is fantastic. ( )
1 vote ForeverMasterless | Apr 23, 2017 |
This was short and sweet and so much more intriguing than the Sandman main story. ( )
  MartinEdasi | Feb 1, 2017 |
In The Sandman: Endless Nights, Neil Gaiman presents a series of short stories about the Endless siblings (with the occasional appearance by Dream), each illustrated by some of the best in the comics business. My favorite stories are those of Death (titled "Death and Venice") and Dream ("The Heart of a Star"). Dream's story contains some nice references to the worlds of both Green Lantern and Superman. The two most creatively-executed stories are those of Despair ("Fifteen Portraits of Despair," illustrated by Barron Storey and designed by Dave McKean) and Delirium ("Going Inside," illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz). Destruction, who made his largest appearance in The Sandman, Vol. 10: The Wake, reappears in his own tale here ("On the Peninsula"). Finally, the Destiny story ("Endless Nights") nicely caps the volume. These stories help to flesh out the worlds of the Endless without the limitations of the narrative arcs in the regular Sandman series. This will appeal primarily to those who have read the previous Sandman story lines and have background knowledge about the characters, though most of the stories are accessible enough to newcomers. ( )
  DarthDeverell | May 31, 2016 |
Like Gaiman's other short story collections, Endless Nights has its share of ups and downs. Each of its seven stories are quick snapshots into the Endless' everyday, and each one sticks around just long enough to give some insight into individual personalities. Some are connected, most aren't. Some aren't even stories, but descriptions, ideas, atmospheres. It's a nice idea, but certain members of the Endless aren't exactly known for their character, and some of these stories subsequently don't do much to change that.

[N.B. This review includes images, and was formatted for my site, dendrobibliography -- located here.]

Death's story, 'Death & Venice,' makes for a good character to start with, but I found her story a little too dark. To some extent, it's a retread of other Death stories filtered through the tragedy of 9/11. The narration carries the melancholic musings of an American soldier on leave in Venice. He's remembering his visits as a child, his brush with the eternally-beautiful Death then, and his frequent brushes as a soldier now.

Overlapping his story is Death's story: A part of her rests outside a door barred to time. Behind this door, if it could be opened, one would find a men and women frozen in a single day, reliving an unabashed series of vulgarities and vices for eternity. They're puppets all the same. They feel safe from Death's clutches, but she'll always be outside, waiting all the same. The end result makes for one of Gaiman's darkest stories.

P. Craig Russell's art is excellent. While I enjoy his work, I don't quite get the overwhelming praise it garners. His capture of Death is akin to a Saturday Morning Cartoon: Clean, colorful, yet dark and grey. She rests somewhere between the bright, colorful world beyond the gate, and the gloomy tint of a post-9/11 reality.

Only Milo Manara should take the reins on a story about Desire. 'What I've Tasted of Desire' offers a distant look at the Endless' influence in days long gone, about a pre-Roman woman who has a keen insight--if you can call it that--into the game Desire plays. Manara's artwork is nothing but a rush of phallic energy and the sexualization of everything. His women are unreal (as one expects of Manara), but that's image Desire draws out of us.

Kara, our hero, has more in common with Desire than meets the eye. When she receives Desire's personal guidance to win the heart of the town hunk, there's a thin line strung between whether her prepared hubris was always there, or something from Desire drew itself into her in the moment. Regardless, she carries the bizarre understanding of the wolfishness she desires and what it means for her. Her story of winning over her lug seems to venerate that very wolfishness that Desire draws out of folks--and she plays it to her advantage, manipulating her family, her enemies, and the readers. She ends her story as she expected to, getting what she wanted.

I didn't like Dream's story.

'The Heart of the Star' (illus. Miguelanxo Prado) was the most comic-book among the stories, with sly DC Universe references knotted into the plot to create continuity with DC's superheroes. It gives it a colorful atmosphere akin to comic books of the '70s and '80s. This is Endless Night's ode to the classic comic, which is to say: Not my thing. The DC Universe being crammed into the Sandman lore is responsible, I think, for the series' lowest points--most of them early in its run, before Gaiman cemented his style or his success.

This tale is set long before our sun had even formed, when the Endless were much younger. They're meeting with the stars themselves in an impossible architecture to discuss future plans. They're hardly recognizable as themselves. Death's appearance is merely the cameo of succinct professionalism one would expect of her name--nothing like the pert cheer she resonates in recent millennia. Despair is the first Despair, similar to our current sister, but not quite. Destruction's playing with explosive energy, suggesting a creative role outside his implied expertise. Delirium appears, for the first and only time until 2013's Overture, as Delight. The difference between them is barely noticeable, with her naivete a symptom of instability. Morpheus is...happy. This is the story of what makes him unhappy, and the beginnings of his sibling rivalry with Desire.

The impossible gap between stories allows for personalities to be entirely unrecognizable, but its brief length (20 pgs.) to rush billions of years of character development makes it feel more akin to fan-fiction than canon. That's a problem. Desire's prank turning Morpheus into the Dream of the Sandman's first issue happens in the span of a couple minutes.

One interesting aspect, though, is this tale explains why Morpheus seems to devote so much time to Earth and humanity when his reign is implied as temporally and spatially infinite, itself an explanation for why readers found so much to care about with the original series.

Despair's 'Fifteen Portraits of Despair' illustrates a significant character issue with the Endless, while still being one of the most powerful stories in the collection. If anyone could bee expected to tell a good yarn about Despair of the Endless, it should be Gaiman. This is not that yarn, or even a yarn, for that matter. This is a series of prose-poem vignettes interspersed with chaotic, unsettling artwork by Barron Storey and long-time collaborator Dave McKean that explores the emotion of despair felt at its worst.

The vignettes in Despair's collection are successful at pulling the reader into the feeling of despair itself, deeply. Some of the prose-poems and artwork were more abstruse than others, and some longer than others. Some dig deep to evoke a scenario, like that of a failing artist or--the worst for me--a caretaker of large family of pets knowingly leaving them to starve to death and doing nothing about it, only admitting off-hand to regret and unhappiness. Others are emotional snapshots in a handful of lines, with characters or situations difficult to discern. While I really enjoyed this series of vignettes, it did nothing to add to Despair's character, simply playing off a single-note she was mostly known for.

'Going Inside' with Delirium poses a similar format to Despair's story through its abstract artwork (courtesy of Bill Sienkiewicz). It tells a story, however--but in the scatter-brained, cute-but-dark way you'd expect of Delirium of the Endless. It's jolting being paired back-to-back with Despair's story, and it would have been preferential to get a stylistic break between them.

Delirium's story is a fragmented adventure into the minds of the delirious to rescue our Endless sister. Delirium is back, lovable as ever, but she's in hiding again. She's retreated into the mind of a young catatonic woman following an implied traumatic experience. Despite being of the Endless, Delirium is often written as vulnerable, with her siblings needing to look after her, and because of this, it's unclear if she was hurt in the same way or simply identified with the catatonic's state. Trying to follow Daniel and Barnabas' rescue mission filtered through unhinged perceptions is exhausting, but rewarding.

The penultimate story is a return to comfortable storytelling technique with help from artist Glenn Fabry. Destruction's 'On the Peninsula' is a feel-good existential romp if ever Sandman could have one. It carries some parallels to Death's story, including a haunted narrator in a foreign land, exploration of an isolated ruin, musings of melancholy and depression and the need for personal revelation, &c.

It stars a post-doc, Rachel, invited by her sleazy professor to help a government-funded dig that promises to change the world. The future has appeared on a European peninsula, buried and by all accounts ancient. Delirium's trouble suggested from 'Going Inside' has effected shock-waves through reality (including the upbeat tone of this tale!), which her and Destruction are now overseeing as fellow tourists. Rachel shares an immediate connection with Destruction, evident through her morbid dreams that drove her to their meeting. Her new-found ties with Destruction and his sister allow her a position outside of her funding camp, and with his help she's able to find herself and move on, leaving the power of the future in the Endless' hands.

This story shows a hopeful reunion with Destruction, as well, who left the series willfully before. Since Morpheus' passing, he's evidently reconnected with his family, and taken up his mantle of Destruction again. I'd wager this very story is about his initial re-awakening as Destruction of the Endless.

'Endless Nights' ends the collection with a prose-poem, a fitting epilogue dedicated to the eldest of the Endless, Destiny. It's well-written, absorbing, and beautifully-illustrated by Frank Quitely; but like Despair's story, it illustrates the problems of giving each of the Endless their own tales. The sole unoriginal member of the Endless, Destiny was a rescued product of the prior decades--and a great inclusion among the Endless early in the series. He was subsequently the most difficult character to work with, and by the end he remained a single-note stoic with nothing to his character but the name.

Instead of combating Destiny's negative stereotype, 'Endless Nights' embraces it. It's a meditation on what destiny means, even if it's a little contradictory and nebulous in its definition--just how destiny should be. His book holds the universe, and he can read the fate of any person, any being, any atom, but the wonder of humanity is that our destinies are ours to write. ( )
2 vote alaskayo | Nov 21, 2015 |
The Basics

A collection of stories taking place in the Sandman universe, each focusing on a member of the Endless.

My Thoughts

This is currently the last of the Sandman stories as written by Neil Gaiman. It’s not essential to the main plot to read these, but for a fan, it’s a satisfying read and worth adding to the collection. If you have a favorite Endless, chances are they’re given their moment to shine here. Even Destiny, with his cool-but-one-note ways.

For my part, Desire has always been my favorite, and his/her story was exactly in keeping with the spirit of Desire. And that’s the key. Even if the figure themselves is featured briefly, the spirit of what they are, who they are, is well on display. Despair, for instance, is more of a series of vignettes regarding her nature, and it fits.

Just how much they run the gamut as characters is exhibited here, as well. It’s obvious enough when they’re together being very different among themselves, but there’s a deeper level to it here. For example, Death’s story is gentle and playful with a sad twinge, yet Delirium’s story is disjointed and bizarre. The gaps between each of them serves to make their character development seem more solid. Even the artists’s separate approaches drive this home. And all the art is, of course, beautiful.

If you’re a fan, certainly read this. No matter who it is among them that fascinates you, it will deliver.

Final Rating

5/5 ( )
  Nickidemus | Sep 18, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neil Gaimanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fabry, GlennIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Manara, MiloIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Prado, MiguelanxoIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Quitely, FrankIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Russel, P. CraigIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Sienkiewicz, BillIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Storey, BarronIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Chuckry, ChrisColorist / Separatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kindzierski, LovernColorist / Separatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Klein, ToddLetterersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McKean, DaveCover artistsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Here, where the darkness closes over me, like canal waters or the grave, I tell this story.
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Book description
Contains "Death and Venice," "What I've Tasted of Desire," "The Heart of a Star," "Fifteen Portraits of Despair," "Going Inside," "On the Peninsula" and "Endless Nights."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 140120113X, Paperback)

Written by Neil Gaiman; Art by P. Craig Russell, Milo Manara, Bill Sienkiewicz, Miguelanxo Prado, Barron Storey, Glenn Fabry, and Frank Quitely; painted cover and book design by Dave McKean; Cover by Dave McKean Joined by a dream-team of artists from around the world, Neil Gaiman - the Hugo Award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of American Gods and the children's book Coraline - returned to the beloved characters he made famous for THE SANDMAN: ENDLESS NIGHTS, the comics event of 2003. Now this landmark work is available in a beautiful softcover edition. Alternately haunting, bittersweet, erotic and nightmarish, the seven stories in this book - one for each of the Endless siblings, each illustrated by a different artist - reveal strange secrets and surprising truths. In addition to the seven tales of the Endless, THE SANDMAN: ENDLESS NIGHTS includes a biography section in the spirit of the Sandman collections (designed by Dave McKean) and a summary of each volume in the Sandman Library.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:15 -0400)

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Presents a collection of seven graphic stories that feature the character known as "The Sandman" who rules over humans as they sleep.

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