The Sandman Vol. 2 – The Doll’s House
Part V: “Collectors”
As Ana has pointed out, very detailed-like, The Sandman series is a groundbreaking, all-encompassing work of literature and art. Ana has thoroughly detailed the major characters with her overview of the series, highlighting The Endless, and most especially Dream. With that framework in place, I’d like to share one of my favorite single issues.
When picking which issue I wanted to review here, a number of the heavy hitters come to mind–i.e. “The Sound of Her Wings”, “24 Hours”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. But, those are always reviewed. So, it came down to two issues for me. “Façade” and “Collectors”…but seeing as Dream (the Sandman himself) isn’t even present in “Façade” (which features Element Girl and Death), I chose “Collectors”.
“Collectors” is issue #14, and featured in The Sandman Vol. 2: The Doll’s House.
Dream, recently freed from his crude imprisonment, has been rebuilding his kingdom. This story arc follows Morpheus as he deals with his renegade servants, nightmares that have left The Dreaming for their own pursuits. Dream’s finest creation is one such nightmare, called The Corinthian.
“A nightmare created to be the darkness, and the fear of darkness in every human heart. A black mirror, made to reflect everything about itself that humanity will not confront.”
At least, this is what Morpheus intended of the Corinthian–a means to show humanity its own wicked darkness.
“Collectors” opens on a ‘Cereal’ Convention–many people are making their way out to this isolated hotel, eager to attend this symposium on cereal. Except, really, it has nothing to do with grains and oats–these folks are murderers, serial killers, who meet once a year to exchange stories, tips, discuss theory, upcoming projects etc. And, of course, the keynote speaker, highlight of the convention, is The Corinthian himself. For the past years since Dream’s imprisonment, the Corinthian has assembled quite a following–he has become a renowned murderer, who kills his victims with his trademark devouring of their eyes.
In the larger story arc, a young woman named Rose is looking for her missing younger brother, Jed. A lead has her at the convention hotel, and by some serendipitous happenstance, the Corinthian has come to possession of Jed (who has been through a lot in the prior issues). Rose has been given a name to speak if she finds herself in danger–which, being at a conference of serial killers, she naturally does find herself in danger, and she summons Dream to her aid. Disgraced by the “petty” choices the Corinthian has made with his freedom, Dream destroys his creation, and vows to do a better job when he recreates his servant.
Why do I love this issue so much? I think part of it is because I think one of Neil Gaiman’s largest strengths is his ability to blend genres, and “Collectors” does it with two of my favorites: horror, and fantasy (with a nice touch of dark humor to spice things up). The absurdity of serial killers gathering at a ‘Cereal Con’ is wonderfully nuts–a playful jab at Comic Con and other such conventions we geeks love, the world ’round? Truly, there is a ‘Con’ for almost anything one can think of–why should serial killers be excluded from the fun? Some of the panels are laugh-out-loud funny in a sort of shocking, sick way–for example, the character of Fun Land with his obsession with little children (and some nice creepy allusions to Disneyland), the discussion of the ‘gender politics’ of serial killers, or the ironic rationalizations (“no sanity clause”).
The Corinthian is one of my favorite side characters in The Sandman series, as a deliciously twisted nightmare. He makes a later reappearance in the series, and has his own spinoff miniseries in The Sandman Presents: The Corinthian which details his origins in those years he became a serial killer. I haven’t had the pleasure (er…horror?) of reading the spinoff yet…but you can bet I will very soon.