Audible Review: ‘The Sandman’

Possibly the biggest thing in the audiobook world recently was that Amazon’s arm Audible was making the ambitious move to adapt the DC Comics/Vertigo masterpiece the Sandman into audio form. No doubt this would be a daunting task as Neil Gaiman’s dark fantasy saga spans all of time, space, and reality. In addition to the grand scale comes the fact that the story is being transformed from a visual medium into an auditory one. Which means the beautiful work from the likes of: Sam Keith. Chris Bachalo, Kelley Jones, Charles Vess and Dave McKean would be missing. It goes without saying that their effort in bringing form to the world of the Endless is a major factor behind the endearing success of the Sandman. Luckily, veteran director and adaptor Dirk Maggs was more than up to the task. With an obviously large budget and an all-star cast he fearlessly brought to life a comic book epic.

This audio version of the Sandman adapts the first three graphic novels of the source material: Preludes and Nocturnes, Dolls House, and Dream Country. The tale begins with Morpheus Lord of Dreams emerging from captivity and searching for the totems needed to restore his powers. From there we get fresh new takes on a number of classics arcs from the comics. There is Rose Walker’s search for her brother, the bar room meetings with Hob Gadling, the Cereal Killer Convention, a showdown with the Corinthian, Element Girl meeting Death, and the World Fantasy Award Winning a Midsummer’s Night Dream performance. Understandably things can become heavy which may cause newcomers to the world of Dream and the Endless to stumble and have to rewind, but it all unfolds in a way so gripping you will not want to give it up.

You can hear that this was a production Amazon clearly put serious effort and production value into. I do not simply mean the star studded cast that includes: Kat Denning, Taron Egerton, Riz Ahmed, Andy Serkis and more (though that does help), but also sound effects and the grand musical score. Taking the lead in the telling of this grand story is naturally Morpheus’ creator Neil Gaiman. When director Dirk Maggs went back to the original scripts in crafting the adaptation he was reminded of the lyrical way in which Gaiman writes. This made the award-winning writer himself, the ideal person to serve as the overall narrator. While this audiobook lacks the gorgeous visuals provided by the great artists who have collaborated with Gaiman, the words he penned combined with his smooth voice do a solid job of painting a picture for the listener. For the seemingly countless years people have attempted to bring the Sandman to the screen the question has lingered as to who could take on the daunting role of Morpheus. I would say after listening to their audiobook, James McAvoy has definitely made a case for himself. His interpretation of the Lord of Dreaming is of a being who despite being ancient and close to omnipotent, there is a vulnerability to the character and the famed actor nails the complex performance.

I personally hope the success of the Sandman leads to further partnerships between Amazon and DC Comics. Imagine having classics like Kingdom Come, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Batman: Year One, or Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow made available to people who may have never read a comic before. Clocking in at around ten hours there is plenty hear to keep listeners riveted whether they read all of the comics or if this is their first time being exposed to this masterpiece.