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The Sandman Vol. 02: The Doll's House (1990)

by Neil Gaiman, Chris Bachalo (Illustrator), Mike Dringenberg (Illustrator), Malcolm Jones III (Illustrator), Steve Parkhouse (Illustrator)1 more, Michael Zulli (Illustrator)

Other authors: Clive Barker (Introduction), Robbie Busch (Colorist), Todd Klein (Letterer)

Series: The Sandman (2 (Issues 9-16))

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,269120923 (4.31)1 / 276
New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman's transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision. During Morpheus's incarceration, three dreams escaped the Dreaming and are now loose in the waking world. At the same time, a young woman named Rose Walker is searching for her little brother. As their stories converge, a vortex is discovered that could destroy all dreamers, and the world itself. Features an introduction by Clive Barker. This volume includes issues 9-16 of the original series and features completely new coloring, approved by the author.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 114 (next | show all)
(4.5 out of 5 stars)

For me, The Doll's House is where The Sandman first starts feeling like the series it'll become known for being. A lot of seeds are sown for later arcs - Rose, Barbie, Desire's beef with Dream, etc - and a lot of the series' rules are first codified in these issues. But it also maintains some of the problems found in the series' first arc as well and also manages to rank among the arcs that have aged the least well.

The Doll's House has a much stronger story than Preludes & Nocturnes. It's a story about Rose Walker and her family, continuing to tie up story threads left dangling from the previous arc. While everything takes a bit of time to get moving - the arc starts with one of those one-shots The Sandman is famous for having, which ends up being a muse on the very act of storytelling, a central theme of the series - once the story gets going, it never really stops. We're taken from England to Florida to Georgia (and a serial killer's convention) all the way back to the Dreaming as Rose Walker tries to unravel the threads of her family history.

I still find the narrative to be a pretty good one, but there are elements of it that haven't aged well. For a start, Desire is frequently referred to by the "it" pronoun. I understand that it was the early 90s when this was published and the singular "they/them/their" pronoun wasn't as widely used as it is today, but hearing an explicitly androgynous character like Desire referred to as an "it" hits in an unfortunate way. I don't think there was any mal intent on Gaiman's part, but it's something that hasn't aged well. The same is true for some of the scenes depicted in the serial killer's convention plot. To be fair, Gaiman never comes close to sympathizing with these killers, but some of those scenes are so disturbing that it's almost not fun to read them. Perhaps that's the point, but I think it'll be hard for some modern readers to fully get behind that.

Still, there's a lot to love in The Doll's House, though, including its artwork. This time, the bulk of the issues are illustrated by Mike Dringenberg, giving more of the artwork a kind of uniformity that I felt was missing in the first arc. A few of the issues are illustrated by other artists - Chris Bachalo tackles issue #12 while Michael Zulli illustrates issue #13 - but both of these issues act more as side plots of the main story and so their differing art style feels intentional and appropriate. Dringenberg's art style is still not my favorite, but it certainly does the job. There are some beautiful images in this book - often a mixture of reality and surreality - but they are deftly balanced with the kind of artwork needed to ensure the story is visually understandable.

At the end of the day, The Doll's House inches The Sandman closer to what the series is known for. It features a main storyline that, while featuring some elements that haven't aged well, remains devilishly interesting and captivating to read. It's impressive seeing just how much of the series' overarching storyline is seeded in these early arcs and it's clear, even from this early on, how well Gaiman understands the world and the characters he's created. I think that if readers can make it to this arc, they'll be hooked into the world of The Sandman. ( )
  thoroughlyme | Apr 23, 2021 |
I remember not really liking The Doll's House, so I was surprised when I enjoyed it even more than Preludes and Nocturnes! It has a real anthology feel without feeling disjointed, and sets up a lot of the skulduggery between Dream and Desire to come later. No big negatives here, just great comics. ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
There was a point in the second half of the book where I felt the story lagging, but on the whole, I really enjoyed this installment in the series. I can't quite say it lived up to the first volume, which had me entranced from page one on through the duration, but where the story here held to the main characters it followed, I truly enjoyed it. As would be expected, the storytelling and the artwork were both stellar, and I look forward to moving into the next book in the series. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Jan 17, 2021 |
This series is so weird and creepy and surreal, yet I can't stop reading it! I don't know if a three-star "liked it" rating is the best description for how I feel after reading this one, but it definitely packs a punch. ( )
  resoundingjoy | Jan 1, 2021 |
The most frightening dreams are the ones that reveal our darkest selves. ( )
  DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 114 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gaiman, Neilprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bachalo, ChrisIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Dringenberg, MikeIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Jones III, MalcolmIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Parkhouse, SteveIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Zulli, MichaelIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Barker, CliveIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Busch, RobbieColoristsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Klein, ToddLetterersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Dreams and visions are infused into men for their advantage and instruction..." -Artemidoros at Daldus, Oneirocritica Second Century A.D.
"Dreams are weird and stupid and they scare me." -Rose Walker April 1990
Dedication
For Pete Atkins, Nick Vince, Anne and Kate Bobby for no particular reason (Neil Gaiman)
To GiGi, Paula and Eric (Mike Dringenberg)
To Malcolm Campbell (Malcolm Jones III)
First words
There are tales that are told many times. (Prologue)
May we open this celebration of the work in your hand by defining two kinds of fantastic fiction? (Introduction)
In the beginning...But of course we never see the beginning. (Preface)
There is only one thing to see in the twilight realm of desire.
Never apologize. (Afterword)
Quotations
We do not murder for a profit. We do not murder for governments, or for hire. We kill to kill. We are entrepreneurs in an expanding field.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Canonical DDC/MDS

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Wikipedia in English (4)

New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman's transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision. During Morpheus's incarceration, three dreams escaped the Dreaming and are now loose in the waking world. At the same time, a young woman named Rose Walker is searching for her little brother. As their stories converge, a vortex is discovered that could destroy all dreamers, and the world itself. Features an introduction by Clive Barker. This volume includes issues 9-16 of the original series and features completely new coloring, approved by the author.

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Book description
Collects "The Doll's House" parts 1-8, originally published in The Sandman #9-16. Early editions also include "The Sound of Her Wings" from The Sandman #8.
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