The Sandman - Issue 7 - Sound and Fury
Updated: Mar 10
THE SANDMAN - ISSUE #7 - SOUND AND FURY ‘So we come to it in the end,’ he said: ‘the great battle of our time.”
Theoden - Return of the King - JRR Tolkien.
RECAP: From the first page of Sound and Fury, the snapshots of John Dee's madness briefly touched upon in the harrowing previous issue are revealed in all their sinister ugliness. I'm trying not to go fangirl here, but as I reread this issue for the recap, those first three panels are sheer brilliance. Each panel is a story on its own, accompanied by artwork that conveys horror better than some feature films.
As Morpheus makes his way to the diner, where he finally confronts John, he is privy to the chaos around him as the world is slowly driven insane. From catastrophic accidents to the end of nigh doomsayers, we also see the despair of those trying to hold back the tide. The dread reaches through the pages until we, the readers, experience it ourselves.
Listen. You can hear it.
It is clear from the onset that Morpheus has no idea what he's dealing with. As the Lord of Dreams, he ensures his realm's smooth functioning. Thus it is beyond him that anyone would want to tear it apart out of sheer hatred and malice. Morpheus tries to reason with John and fails, naively believing a well-thought-out argument will convince John to hand over the ruby. After seeing what he did to the diners in 24 Hours, we know better, but Morpheus seems almost astonished when John's rebuttal is a threat to kill him.
This declaration does, however, reveal to Morpheus what kind of opponent he's facing, and he picks up the gauntlet most impressively. He might be weakened without his ruby, but Morpheus is the Lord of Dreams, and the Dreaming is still his domain. Morpheus challenges John to fight him in the Dreaming, and like other foes later in the series, John's hubris prompts him to enter the Dream's Lord's place of power.
Once inside the Dreaming, John's disorientation doesn't last long, and he soon learns that the stone he's carrying has the power to do a lot more than torture innocents. He can affect the Dreaming, which naturally leads him to conclude that he really needs to kill Morpheus if he intends to rule it all.
Like an enraged child, John pursues Morpheus through the Dreaming, hurling a litany of crude insults and threats to provoke Morpheus into a fight, but the Lord Shaper is too wily for such a tactic. Increasingly unhinged, John then resorts to tearing apart the very fabric of the Dreaming, threatening its inhabitants like Eve, Cain, and Abel. In the outside world, millions of dreamers are being driven insane as John escalates his attacks to draw out Morpheus.
Only when the threat to everything he holds dear reaches extreme levels, Morpheus appears, if only to beg John to stop what he is doing. Revealing himself places Morpheus at a decided disadvantage, and John, more than accustomed to fighting super-powered foes, goes on the offensive. Using the ruby, he steals what power Morpheus has left and channels it into the gem, driving Morpheus to the point of death.
But John is still a madman. In a megalomaniacal rant, which I'm sure he perfected when fighting the Justice League, he concludes that destroying the ruby will also kill Morpheus and crushes it with callous glee.
The ruby's destruction brings about the complete collapse of the arena John battled Morpheus. All that remains is a blank page to start over with. Without Morpheus or the ruby, John proclaims himself the new king of Dreams and promises to be a benevolent ruler who will only give nightmares to the deserving... or anyone he doesn't like.
What follows is another iconic scene I once again thank Netflix for recreating so perfectly.
As John ponders why there isn't more fanfare to his coronation, he discovers that Morpheus's pale palm is the blank canvas on which he stands.
Morpheus is very much alive and, thanks to John's destruction of the ruby, more powerful than he's been in centuries. However, instead of punishing the deluded mortal for the harm he unleashed on the world, Morpheus displays the benevolence that would evolve throughout the series. After all, John destroyed the ruby, which Morpheus wouldn't have considered doing. His gratitude and the knowledge of what the ruby must have done to a mortal mind save John from repercussions.
Morpheus does the kindest thing he can do at this point. He takes John home.
Back at Arkham Asylum, John's journey ends with the cameo he started it with. Jonathan Crane greets them in full Scarecrow costume as Morpheus returns John to his 'safe place.' Even John seems glad to be home and displays a little remorse at the carnage he's caused across the globe. Even Arkham's psychotic occupants did not escape unscathed. Morpheus leaves him then, filled with a new purpose to rebuild his kingdom and a promise that tonight, humanity will sleep.
And everyone does. The despaired, the exhausted, and the deranged. All share a night of peaceful and untroubled sleep.
If you listen, you can hear it.
And there you have it. That's our recap this week. I hope you enjoyed it. PREVIOUS: Issue 6 - 24 Hours