Continuing their month of tribute comics to the one and only Jack Kirby, the late comics legend responsible for most of the Marvel Age characters and a lot of DC's Silver Age fair, they have brought to us Sandman #1.
Sandman is a being who exists in the realm of dreams, and he protects the Earth from the nightmares that could overtake us.
The first tale, by Dan Jurgens and Jon Bogdanove¸ tells of Sandman and his two less-than-noble assistants, Glob and Brute, saving a child from his own dreams. His dreams are so vivid that they threaten to break through to reality itself. Thankfully, a mysterious hero aids them in their task, but who is he? What did he come here for?
The second tale, by Steven Orlando and Rick Leonardi, is of a man who returns home for the funeral of his grandfather. His guilt-ridden nightmares plague him, but there is one memory that could bring him from the depths of despair. It's up to Sandman, Glob, and Brute to save this man from himself.
The final section is more vignettes written and drawn by the King himself, and this one contains a number of tales from his DNA Project stories.
The first page of Jurgens and Bogdanove's story immediately invokes Kirby's style, and it's glorious and satisfying. Sandman's costume looks unique and fantastic. I've not actually had the pleasure of reading about this particular Sandman before, but the premise and idea is bizarre and compelling. He saves us from ourselves and what our own minds can do to us.
(Spoilers) The hero who helps Sandman save the boy of the first tale looks a bit similar to Orion of the New Gods. He doesn't speak, and it is unknown from where he originates or how he got here. You may have guessed this already, but he is actually another dream of the boy. We see the boy himself, and he is surrounded by drawings of heroes and monsters. One has the boy's signature: Jacob Kurtzberg, the birth name of Jack Kirby. Sandman comments that the boy will bring some fantastic things to the world.
He was right, of course.
The second story is a lot of fun too, and it manages to give nods to Sandman's creator too. The man who lost his grandfather had spent a lot of time away from home and left his grandfather on bad terms. The memory that Sandman salvages for him is of his grandfather so the two can have one last chance to reconcile. The grandfather is drawn to resemble Jack Kirby, and it's a heartfelt moment with he, "Ezra," and his grandson making up.
The action in these stories is quick but fun. Since these are shorter stories, they have to get themselves finished more quickly, but they are still paced well enough so that you can get something out of them.
The DNA Project shorts are weird and wonderful too. There are monsters, giant moving vehicles, cavemen, and aliens. They're all brought to life by Kirby's signature style, and they're very enjoyable.
As I said, Bogdanove's style is very similar to Kirby's. It does vary a bit, particularly with how malleable Glob and Brute are. They also use real pictures of skulls and the cosmos spliced onto the page to represent a barrier the nightmares were placing around the boy Kirby's dreamscape. It's a little off-putting at first, but it's actually kind of a neat idea. Madpencil supports it with bright and varying color work.
Isanove's artwork is less akin to Kirby, but it still looks good. It takes on a western motif, with a villain called Psycho-Pomp taking the man's memories to a place of disposal on an 1800's-style locomotive. The color work by Steve Buccellato is a bit heavier here to the comic's benefit.
Overall, this comic was another good entry in DC's Jack Kirby celebration and is well worth your time. It's weird, fun, and very heartfelt. It's good seeing comic creators pay tribute to the legendary King of Comics. Give this one a read.