A Beautiful Script, A Terrifying Vision: Reviewing ‘The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country’ #1

by Olly MacNamee


‘The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country’ #1 is a blend of both beautifully prosaic language and equally disturbing imagery as James Tynion IV captures the appropriate tone and cadence of Neil Gaiman’s much beloved dark corner of the DCU. A promising start to the latest visit to the Dreaming and all its deadly charms.


Once more we return to the creepy and surreal world of The Sandman with The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country #1 by James Tynion IV, Lisandro Estherren, Yanick Paquette, Patricio Delpeche, Nathan Fairbarn and Simon Bowland. And, as you can imagine by both the title and the appearance of the Corinthian on the cover this is is a title that’s out to explore the darker side of the Sandman Universe with a coterie of creepy characters old and new.

The main thrust of the first issue centres around an art student, Flynn, and a one-night stand she picks up at a college party. A party where she fleetingly sees an ungodly sight guaranteed to haunt her dreams, and more, as this storyline progresses.

Of course, Tynion has carved out a career as a comic book horror writer and so this title suits his skill set brilliantly. He adds a certain prosaic beauty to his script that contrasts the grotesqueries to be found in the artwork by Estherren, with watercolours added by Delpeche. The end results is rather wonderful. The artwork feels delicate at times, as watercolour art can, but also allows the horror to bleed from the page more vividly too.

In contrast to this is the interlude into the Dreaming, illustrated by the ever-amazing Paquette and coloured by Fairbarn. It’s a more solid, illustrative style but heavy on detail. From the towering spires and turrets of a castle straight out of folklore to the dark skies that seem created from inky fingerprints layered one upon the other. It’s in these scenes new readers get to catch up on who the Corinthian is and what he’s all about. Even if his emergence on the waking world of reality is opaque for now. Still, it all adds to the air of uneasiness hanging over this book.

An uneasiness only made more unnerving upon meeting two terrifying and undoubtably supernatural killers – Mr Ecstasy and Mr Agony – who, for some reason, remind me in their cadence of Mr Kidd and Mr Wint from Diamonds Are Forever. 

Tynion IV captures the spirit of Neil Gaiman in both the tone and dialogue to be found in this debut issue which certainly bodes well for future issues. A strong start for the latest chapter in the Sandman Universe; an unsettling, nightmarish first issue balanced out with an elegant narrative voice and some horrifying moments too.

The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country #1 is out now from DC Comics/DC Black Label

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