The best comics to read right now: The Sandman edition

The best comics to read right now: The Sandman edition
·7 min read

One of the greatest comics of all time has finally made it to the screen, but fans of Netflix's The Sandman series may find themselves wanting more after finishing the 10th episode. Thankfully, there are plenty of comics capable of filling that void!

The original comic created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg has influenced many writers to this day, and of course the original series' highlights are always worth revisiting. Below, check out our list of comic recommendations for this Sandman-centric month.

Monthly Sandman Comics
Monthly Sandman Comics

DC Vertigo The fourth volume of 'The Sandman,' titled 'Season of Mists,' is a standout story in Neil Gaiman's iconic comic

The Sandman: Season of Mists (DC Black Label)
Neil Gaiman (writer), Kelley Jones (artist), Mike Dringenberg (artist), Malcolm Jones III (artist), Matt Wagner (artist), Todd Klein (letterer)

Like any good comic book TV series, season 1 of Netflix's The Sandman ends with a big tease for the next season. We spend the final moments of the 10th episode catching up with Lucifer (Gwendoline Christie), who hasn't lost any of her rage at Morpheus (Tom Sturridge) for humiliating her during his earlier visit to Hell. If and when the streamer officially renews The Sandman for season 2, that's where the story will pick up, with Lucifer enacting her revenge.

But if you want to get ahead of the curve, you can read the source material now! Just as season 1 of The Sandman adapted the first two volumes of the comic (Preludes & Nocturnes and The Doll's House), season 2 would definitely tackle volume 4, Season of Mists — a standout arc in one of the most iconic comic sagas ever published.

30 years before voicing Matthew on the show, Patton Oswalt stood in line for hours to get Gaiman's autograph on his copy of Season of Mists. Contemporary comic writer James Tynion IV calls it "a really seminal work" that includes "one of the best comics ever written."

Why? Because Lucifer's plan for revenge doesn't look anything like Morpheus or the reader expects. If you've never read it before, prepare to have your mind blown; you'll never look at Hell the same way again. If you're already familiar, then you know there's never a bad time to revisit this classic.

In the immortal words of the immortal Hob Gadling, "to absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists — and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due."

Monthly Sandman Comics
Monthly Sandman Comics

Vertigo 'Death: The Deluxe Edition' collects every comic written by Neil Gaiman about the most beloved character from 'The Sandman'

Death: The Deluxe Edition 
Neil Gaiman (writer), Mike Dringenberg (artist), Chris Bachalo (artist), Colleen Doran (artist), P. Craig Russell (artist), Mark Buckingham (inker)

Whether you've read the original comic or just watched the show, you know by now that The Sandman's mopey protagonist is surrounded by an all-time cast of colorful characters. Foremost among them is his sister Death, who was popular enough to spin off into her own solo comics — now conveniently collected in a deluxe hardcover edition for anyone who wants to spend more time with the character after being enchanted by Kirby Howell-Baptiste's on-screen portrayal.

Death: The High Cost of Living miniseries explored the concept (mentioned briefly in The Sandman proper, and the original inspiration for Morpheus' centuries-long friendship with Hob Gadling) that Death takes on a human form once a century in order to experience what mortality is really like (and somehow becomes even more lovable in the process), while Death: The Time of Your Life followed up with other Sandman supporting characters. This new edition collects both those books, as well as the Death-focused issues of The Sandman (issue #8, "The Sound of Her Wings," and issue #20, "Facade") and her chapter from the Endless Nights graphic novel.

Perhaps most fun of all, this collection also comes with a gallery of Death depictions by various top-tier comic artists. This character made a sizable cultural impact (imagining the grim reaper as a friendly Goth girl instead of a scythe-wielding specter really does rewire your brain) and Death: The Deluxe Edition is a wonderful summary of that.

Monthly Sandman Comics
Monthly Sandman Comics

DC 'The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country' by James Tynion IV and Lisandro Estherren follows the Corinthian. Cover by Reiko Murakami

The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country
James Tynion IV (writer), Lisandro Estherren (artist), Reiko Murakami (cover artist), Yanick Paquette (guest artist), Andrea Sorrentino (guest artist)

Death isn't the only Sandman supporting character to spin off into her own comics. But while she and her brother Morpheus are still handled exclusively by Gaiman himself, other inhabitants of the Dreaming have been taken in new directions by other writers over the years. The latest example is The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country, which puts the Corinthian at the center of his own adventure.

The Corinthian is an iconic creation, the definition of a nightmare: Once you see those eye-teeth, you never forget them. The character has multiple incarnations across The Sandman comic, and now actor Boyd Holbrook has added a whole new dimension in the Netflix series. All of these facets of humanity's dark mirror are at play in Nightmare Country, which in the metafictive tradition of The Sandman seems to be riffing on the very idea of the antihero redemption arc. For lifelong Sandman fan James Tynion IV, it's a full-circle story — and like any good Sandman comic, it's got art that will blow you away.

Monthly Sandman Comics
Monthly Sandman Comics

Vertigo 'The Saga of the Swamp Thing' by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette, and John Totleben is an essential comic for fans of 'The Sandman'

Saga of the Swamp Thing (DC Comics) 
Alan Moore (writer), Stephen Bissette (artist), John Totleben (artist)

The Sandman didn't come out of nowhere. As original and influential as Neil Gaiman's saga was, he was following in the footsteps of fellow British writer Alan Moore in bringing a literary sensibility to DC Comics. With Saga of the Swamp Thing, Moore took the misbegotten monster and transformed him into a romantic hero at the center of spellbinding stories about the relationship between man and nature — which remain as relevant as ever in the midst of our degrading climate.

In addition to creating the iconic character John Constantine, Moore's Swamp Thing also revived various forgotten magical characters from DC's past. Some of them (like Cain and Abel) would go on to star in The Sandman, while others (like Zatanna) have become top-shelf DC superheroes in the decades since. If you were wondering what Matthew's life was like before he became the talking raven of The Sandman, look no further than here (though be warned: It's not pretty). Saga of the Swamp Thing is an essential comic, but especially for fans of The Sandman.

Monthly Sandman Comics
Monthly Sandman Comics

DC Vertigo The 'Lucifer' solo series by writer Mike Carey is a great read for fans of Netflix's 'The Sandman'

Lucifer (DC/Vertigo)
Mike Carey (writer), Peter Gross (artist)

Netflix users who watch both Lucifer and The Sandman on the streaming platform may not realize that they share the same source material. But it's true: The devil as played by Tom Ellis is based on the incarnation of Lucifer originally created by Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg. That's why the new show cast Christie instead, to differentiate their interpretation of the fallen angel.

But whichever on-screen Lucifer you prefer, the solo series by writer Mike Carey and artist Peter Gross is a real treat. DC's Vertigo imprint may be extinct now, but Carey's Lucifer was the very definition of what it meant to be "a Vertigo book" in the wake of The Sandman: A dark fantasy/horror series that could build out a whole mythology and explore rabbit holes of its world over its length. It's pretty easy to find in collected edition now, and a good fix for anyone who needs more dreams and devils in their life.

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