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Headscratchers: The Sandman
  • In this series, all the world's gods and pantheons are the result of people creating the ideas of them and believing in them so much that the dreams get more powerful and become gods. The gods don't exist until people start believing in them. But 10,000 years ago, Morpheus sentenced Nada to suffer in Lucifer's Hell for all eternity, predating (Judeo-?)Christian ideas of the devil and hell by many thousand years. And The Creator (God) and The Silver City (Heaven, essentially) are consistently described differently from all the other gods in the series. It all adds up to suggest that the Christian God is real while the other gods are only mostly real. And it really seems that Gaiman did it that way just so he wouldn't offend people.
    • Actually, there's been evidence for a genuine Abrahamic God in the DCU for years- Gaiman may have just been working off of that. The Spectre, aka Wrath of God, has been a superhero for a while, as has Eclipso, aka The Former Wrath Of God Until Being Fired. There's also an angel who was standing in for Hawkman for a while. Even the New Gods of New Genesis admit that there's a mysterious Higher Power above them. So, its merely in keeping with DC continuity that Yaweh be more "real", since his influence is felt more widely- whereas the others are only felt on a localized scale, plus the odd artifact.
    • Um... there really isn't anything in the series that says that the other gods are strictly created by belief. They aren't part of the Dreaming, they don't answer to Dream anymore than they do the other Endless. There is some suggestion that the other realms are related to the Dreaming in some unspecified way, but none of this means that belief, imagination, dreaming, or anything of the sort, creates the gods. And in Endless Nights we even see the Universe being laid out by stars, planets, gods, and other strange entities, with the Endless serving as little more than observers/advisors, long before Earth, let alone human beliefs (let alone any beliefs, really) come into the equation.
      • The gods begin in the Dreaming and return there to die. The gods exist retroactively when humans dream them up. If you dream up a god that has existed since the dawn of time, his existence goes back to the dawn of time even though he was technically born last Thursday. The same thing happens in Dream of a Thousand Cats and American Gods.
      • Not to mention that if gods were powered by belief, there isn't much reason for the Norse gods to exist in their same old forms, rather than adapting forward as other gods do.
    • Of course, belief is shown to be an extremely powerful force, capable of changing history even. If we consider the God presented in the Sandman to be the god of all Abrahamic religions, it's possible that the belief from all his followers changed the past so that he has always existed, thus allowing concepts related to him to have existed before he should have come out of the Dreaming.
    • The Abrahamaic God that exists in the DCU isn't necessarily The Creator. After all, there are many creator gods, and Ollie Queen had sex with at least one of them. And didn't call the next day. Regardless, it may just be that there has always existed Somewhere Unpleasant, and that's where Dream stuck her. When Lucifer rebelled against God, he was cast into the same Somewhere and built Hell around her.
      • Not around her. Morpheus said Lucifer fell millions of years ago, so that happened before he exiled Nada.
      • Ten billion years ago to be exact, according to his own words.
    • Just to make things more confusing:
      • Near the beginning of Season of Mists, we're told that the Silver City is not Heaven. The narrator says so, and Lucifer treats the Silver City and "the fields of paradise" as distinct, non-Earthly realms. At the end, angels from the Silver City take over Hell, and we're told that Hell is now under Heaven's jurisdiction.
      • The world of American Gods seems roughly contiguous with that of The Sandman same way of creating gods through belief, Delirium showing up in San Francisco, etc. (The Sandman already provides cases of multiple versions of history, and it's somehow adjoined to the DCU's multiverse, so it wouldn't be too far-fetched to say that American Gods takes place in one of those parallel/overlapping realities.) But in American Gods, Jesus is actually treated as a god-sustained-by-belief, rather than a capital-G God who antedates Dream and the other Endless. He's not running around with Wednesday, Czernobog and the other old gods because there are lots of Christians in America, but just like there's another Odin back in Iceland, there's another Jesus wandering around Afghanistan. Maybe, if small-g gods come from the human heart, then all the ideas which followers of one religion have about the gods of the others can themselves manifest as minor deities? In medieval Europe, there was a Termagant; in modern Japan, a young boy named Tabris . . .
      • Although in American Gods it is stated clearly that Thor killed himself in the 1920's, but he is in The Sandman alive well after that period. Also Odin and Loki of The Sandman are nothing like their American Gods counterparts. So it looks like separate stories.
      • The American version killed himself int he 1920s. The version that lives in The Dreaming could be fine.
      • Also, consider the beings who are powerful enough to give Dream a seriously bad day. There's Lucifer, who thinks very little of Dream's capabilities (and, it appears, rightfully so). But then there are the Furies, who actually devastate the Dreaming and force Morpheus into his sister's realm. So, of the supernatural entities who appear not to come from human belief, we have one belonging essentially to Christianity and one/three to Greek mythology.

      • In the case of the Furies, it's made pretty clear that they only have that power because Dream is a stickler for following rules and the rules say that they have that authority under those circumstances. Death, among others, is not impressed by the Furies' power and pretty clearly indicates that Dream could dismiss them if he wanted to.

      • I always assumed that it was because when Christianity became prominent reality retroactivly rewrote itself to fit those myths. As we saw evidence of in A Dream Of A Thousand Cats. Or it might just be because the "Creator" is not a god in the normal sence of the word. Likewise Lucifer seems quite able to sustain himself without belief.

      • I don't know, it seems like Lucifer always has people to believe in him. In Seasons Of Mists, it's pretty much explained that people go to hell because they believe they're going to hell. The principal's mother comes to mind. But I agree on the belief causing the world to retcon an abrahamic God in.

      • More evidence: it's hinted that Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel were not human originally (Abel says "Oh, this whuwasn't on Earth, thu thu..." in Parliament of Rooks). My impression was that there have always been myths about life after death, a place of reward and a place of punishment, and the Christian Heaven and Hell are just the latest forms that these stories have taken.

      • The Abrahamic religions (along with all other faiths) may simply be reflections and approximations of a reality which isn't directly experienced by any mortal. The Silver City is real; the Christians call it heaven and suppose that God lives there.

  • The Endless are embodiments, not just of their namesakes, but the opposite as well— that's why there isn't a Volition, Vitality, or Veracity running around. But if Despair existed, why was there Delight? Aren't they opposites?
    • I think the opposite of Despair is supposed to be Hopenote , not Delight. Way back when a Delight existed, her opposite may have been Unhappiness. Nowadays, Delirum's opposite is pretty clearly Sanity. If you look at it that way, the transition from Delight - Delirium and Unhappiness - Sanity is a sign of the "universe" maturing from it's youth into a more rational form.
    • Not Unhappiness. Horror. Delight defined both taking joy in something and horror toward it.
  • So do the comic/book covers actually mean anything, or they just supposed to look cool?
    • The latter (mainly to show off Dave McKean's artistic talents). Neil Gaiman actually had to fight to keep Morpheus off the covers after the first issue.

  • I just want to say that reading this comic made my head hurt. Too much to think about...but cool nonetheless.

  • As much as I love an immortal being based off Brian Blessed, wasn't Destruction a bit redundant? He ends up being a really interesting plot point... but it seems that he's already pretty clearly encompassed within Death, seeing as she embodies the end of all things, from the smallest living organisms to the Universe itself. Sometimes it seems like Gaiman ran out of big D words, but really wanted to hit magic seven.
    • With Destruction's miserable attempts to create things, such as cooking a meal from basic ingredients, my guess would be he represents the act of destruction. As performed by living beings, or by forces of nature, your guess is as good as mine. But there is a distinction between mere destruction and the death it possibly causes. From what I gathered, Death is really about the transition itself: the end of life itself, not how it happens or why. Destruction would be more about the means to get there, about the process of things coming apart. But then, there is some manner of overlap between more Endless: if Dream is concerned with the fictional and explicitly unreal, then what is the purpose of Delirium? Neither rules over a domain firmly rooted in the waking world, and neither domains seem very concerned with any sense of logic )though the Dreaming probably some sort of dream-logic to it, especially given Morpheus' character). Where would fever-dreams go? With his curses, Morpheus has driven several people to madness, in a way that seems as much his own as his sister's.
      • Alternately: First you meet Destruction, then you belong to Death.
    • Destruction is about change, about one thing turning into another. In Endless Nights we are told that his power upholds the nuclear reaction of the stars. Death is the end (and new beginning) of the living things, whereas Destruction is any destruction from atomic decay to exploding planets, regardless of whether anything living is involved.
      • Yes, it's made quite clear that Destruction is about change, about one thing losing its form and becoming something else. That's why he's so into cooking, and that's why he's the key character in Brief Lives, which is all about change (or, in Dream's case, inability to accept it). In that story arc, we see that he starts to consider leaving his post when Newton first speculates light and matter are controvertible. It's implied he figures that if humanity can soon change things on their basic particle level, an antropomorphic personification of change is no longer needed. Presumably being an personification of change also makes it easier for him to just leave (i.e. change), which apparently no other Endless has ever done before.
  • Is it ever explained what happened to turn Delight into Delirium? I know an unspecified Really Bad was mentioned in passing in the main series, and it had to do with Destruction leaving, but is anything specific attributed to her transformation, or is it one of those Fridge Horror Noodle Incidents peppered throughout the narrative?
    • Delight had changed to Delirium long before Destruction left his post. In the chapter of Endless Nights that takes place millions of years in the past she's still Delight, but in her next chronological appearance in Sandman Special #1, which takes place in Ancient Greece, she's already Delirium. Destruction didn't leave until the 18th century. Why she changed is never explained or even hinted in Sandman, I think it's supposed to be a sort of a Riddle for the Ages. Though IIRC Gaiman has stated that he knows the reason, and might write that story someday.

  • One of the tropes said that the only people who go to hell are convinced on a fundamental level that they deserve it. Using that logic that means you could rape, torture and mutilate children but not go to Hell as long as you didn't think you were going to Hell. Doesn't make much sense.
    • It makes perfect sense. It just means the Sandman universe isn't fair.
    • ...how doesn't it? Hell only exists because everyone inside it believes they should be there. If you're raised that you believe all those things were not evil things, then you have no need of Hell. It's the same way that Hob Gadling is immortal; he at the most fundamental level refused to die. Not just consciously doing it, at every level of his thought process he refused the concept of death being an inevitability. The universe has a Clap Your Hands If You Believe feel to it, so it works by the internal consistency.
      • That's not quite true when it comes to Hob Gadling. Yes, that's how he thinks it works, but if Death and Dream hadn't overheard him talking about it then they wouldn't have decided that Death wouldn't take him. If Death went back on that, or if Hob decided to die, then I assume he will become mortal. I think with regards to Hell, if you believed in it then you believed that your sins would lead you there. I'm not sure what would happen to people that didn't believe. Perhaps just nothingness. YMMV as to which is worse...
      • Are you sure about that? Because a lot of stories show how belief can literally rewrite reality (like humans rewriting the world from being ruled over by Cats to being the dominate species and having it always be that way), no Endless needed to facilitate that change, and we know that the ideas that the Endless represent continue to go on even if they abandon their position. So belief can change the universe AND the Endless do not have to get involved for this change to happen. Taking those two facts into consideration, the internal consistancy of the story is "Strong enough belief > reality." Which is in it's own way scary, but still. I don't recall Death or Dream saying that they were the ones who gave Gob his immortality and agelessness.
      • How about this: if you truly believe in rape, torture and child mutilation, then when you die you'll go to an afterlife perfectly tailored to your heart's desire... a world where rape, torture and pointless evil is the way to go. And you'll have nothing to cling onto, to have ease your existence... because there's nothing else in that world. "The price of getting what you want is having what once you wanted."
    • It does seem nonsensical from the point of view of any religion in which one's afterlife is determined by whether one was moral or immoral in life: the view of the universe put forth by Gaiman is that a consciousness that feels guilt after death travels to a realm (Hell) whose inhabitants (the demons) are quite glad to exploit the self-hatred that guilt inspires.
    • Just to clarify something, nothingness (or at least oblivion) is "not an option" according to Death; in the spin-off Lucifer, there's a one-shot that depicts true, perfect oblivion - the deletion of a soul, total cessation of existence - as very difficult to achieve. (Which is not to say that you can't delete consciousness; a number of characters choose to be reincarnated without memory, but some aspect of whomever they once were is still there.) Similarly, dead souls don't always end up where they "supposed" to go. Nada certainly wasn't supposed to go to Hell, but Dream sent her there. Without intervention, you wind up in Hell if it is, specifically, where you believe you're headed, not just if you believe you deserve to be punished somehow. There are many, many other afterlives and underworlds. And yes, Hob is immortal specifically because Death and Dream were present when he made his boast - at the same time, Will Shakespeare made his wish.
  • In Sandman, it appears humankind's various gods are given form in the Dreaming when people start believing in them, and they gradually fade away when folks don't worship or think about them anymore, finally returning to Dreaming to die. But it's also implied Dream was the being the Romans worshipped as Morpheus. Now, the mythological Morpheus was rather different from Dream, so shouldn't there have been another Morpheus, one who was like the Romans imagined him to be? What about all the other dream gods from various pantheons? Was Morpheus all of them, or do they exist as separate beings? If it's the former, why weren't these dream gods born in the Dreaming when people started believing in them, just like all the other gods in the series were? If it's the latter, why don't we meet these any of these dream gods? Loads of other deities appear in the series, and you'd think dream gods were the ones Dream would be most likely to encounter?
  • Some earlier stories hint, and Endless Nights confirms, that the Endless aren't bound to planet Earth, and that they existed long before humanity did. Also, in The Books of Magic we see that Death is not the antropomorphic personification of death only for humans, but for the whole universe. Why, then, do the Endless spend so much of their time dealing with humans? When they are with each other, why do they never talk about other planets, where they presumably have the same duties as on Earth? When Lucien recounts Dream's former lovers, why are all of them humans? When Death wants to live as a mortal for one day in each century, why does she do it on Earth, instead of the countless others inhabited planets in the DC Universe? It would make much more sense if the Endless were the personifications of various concepts only on Earth, but Endless Nights and The Books of Magic contradict this theory.
    • Explained in the Green Lantern comics. Life originates on Earth, and this is where the Anthropomorphic Personification of living things/Cosmic Keystone the existence of life relies on hangs out - and Earth, as a result, has far more and more diverse life than other planets. Presumably if The White Entity were to move, so would they, since while they, unlike the Emotional Entities, are separate from living things as a matter of origin and composition, they are nevertheless defined by those living things.
      • That still doesn't explain the story in Endless Nights, where the Endless are shown to exist before there was any life on Earth, and where they meet Sol, the Anthropomorphic Personification of our sun, for the first time. Since Sol was unknown to them before this story, it's obvious the Endless aren't tied to Earth at this point. So where are they hanging then? And why do they already look like humans, even though humanity doesn't exist yet?
      • They look like humans because the people reading the comics are human. The same way that Dream takes the form that people expect him to take when looking at him the stories and actions of The Endless are just parsed as being based around humans/Earth because the observers (us) use it as a common frame of reference. People from Mars reading the book would wonder why they're always dealing with Martian issues.
      • There are still many Earth-centric things that can be explained by the above. Like, why is Dream's only mortal friend a human? It's specifically stated that the reason Dream befriends Hob Gadling is because he's lonely. If he was the Dream of infinite other planets, you'd think he'd have at least some friends on some of them, and hence wouldn't be lonely? And why are all of the major events in the lives of the Endless tied to humanity? Dream's son became a disembodied head because he tried to save a human woman he loved. Dream was captured for decades by humans. Destruction quit his job because humanity was about to discover quantum theory. (You'd think some of the more advanced civilizations on other planets would've discovered this long ago, so why was it humanity's discovery that made him quit?) Desire swore to bring the Kindly Ones on Dream because s/he lost a bet concerning a human. Dream was killed by the Kindly Ones because a human woman wanted revenge. And so on... If similar thing were happening on other planets too. you'd think the Endless would be imprisoned or killed all the time?

  • Where the hell were the Endless during the Crisis?! You'd think that a multiversal threat like the reality-devouring Anti-Monitor would at least worry them. The guy wrestled with the fully powered-up Wrath of God, I think that the Endless should try to stop him.
    • Why? They aren't superheroes or even gods; they're simply personifications of universal concepts. Additionally, the one member of the Endless who might be proactive enough to take an interest out of sheer boredom, Dream, is imprisoned at this point (and if the other six aren't even willing to rescue their own brother, what does that say for the rest of the universe?).
      • They're universal concepts of a reality which is threatened by being who has destroyed thousands of other realities, and is about to destroy their universe-and by proxy, them as well. The Anti-Monitor winning would lead to the destruction of both all reality besides the world the Anti-Monitor is functionally God, and their own death. Trying to push back the Anti-Monitor is self-defense, and I think that at least one of the Endless doesn't want to be killed.
      • Are they the Endless of Earth-1 only? If the Anti-Monitor wins, do the concepts they represent disappear?
      • Possible explanation: The Endless were never threatened by the Anti-Monitor. The Anti-Monitor seems to have targeted the mortal, physical realms only, and the Endless are distinctly shown to be able to exist outside those. Could the Anti-Monitor have destroyed the Dreaming, the realm of Death or the various afterlives? With the general mystical nature of the Endless and the Sandman universe, it seems more than likely that while the Anti-Monitor was capable of destroying universes, there there were countless realms he wouldn't be able to touch.
      • It's specifically said that Death came into existence when living things first developed the capacity to die, Dream came to existence when they had the capacity to dream, and so on. If the multiverse was destroyed and all living things ceased to exist, then it seems the Endless wouldn't exist either. The only possible exception is Destiny, who doesn't seem to be tied to living things the way the others are.
      • In The Books of Magic (the original miniseries), Death is shown to be the last person in the universe — in fact, the last two living things are Destiny and Death. Then Death draws Destiny to her — Destiny expressing relief that he can finally put his book down — and Death, now alone, then ends the universe, after which she leaves for unknown parts (it's speculated that a new universe will rise, and Death will come there, though she won't necessarily be the incarnation of Death anymore). So it seems logical that whenever the Anti-Monitor ended a universe, Death was there to ensure that it died. She, then, knew exactly what the Anti-Monitor was up to and yet didn't get involved — which means that either she didn't judge him to be a threat on a scale large enough to mean anything to the Endless... or she did, but chose not to get involved anyway. Destiny too, must have known what was going on, but Destiny does not get involved in anything (besides, he would have already known that the Anti-Monitor would ultimately fail). So yes, it seems that the Endless deliberately didn't get involved, at least not directly — and apart from Dream, it doesn't really seem to be the Endless's style to directly confront adveraries. It doesn't seem in character for them to go out and fight the Anti-Monitor personally; it's more likely that if they were involved, they were working behind the scenes, setting up events and making sure that the right people were at the right places at the right time, all without making personal appearances. Like the previous Tropers said, the Endless aren't superheroes; fighting bad guys personally isn't their style. The sole possible exception is Dream, and he was imprisoned at the time.
      • Of course, the real reason was that at the time of Crisis of Infinite Earths, the Endless hadn't been invented yet — Crisis was published in 1985, and Sandman began in 1989. If you want to extend this to in-universe, you can: Somehow the changing of history created the Endless. Pre-Crisis there were no Endless (apart from Destiny, but nobody knew much about him). Post-Crisis, they had always existed.
      • Destiny stopped them from intervening knowing that it would be ok in the end.

  • With his famously aloof personality, and his apparent distaste for any kind of social interaction, why does Dream seem to be the only member of the Endless who keeps his realm stocked with a retinue of helpers and familiars? All things considered, his job really doesn't seem like it would be that much more difficult than his siblings' jobs, so it doesn't seem like he would need assistants any more than Death, Destiny, Desire, Delirium or Despair. So why does he feel the need to keep Matthew, Lucien, Merv Pumpkinhead et al. employed?
    • Because he's the only one whose realm we see. We only see the other's realms very briefly and only very small areas of it so they very well might have had their own servants.
    • Unlike the realms of the other Endless, The Dreaming is by its very nature populated with all sorts of sentient creatures, so Dream probably thought, what the hell, might as well put them to good use. Also, one of the big themes in the series is that despite his seeming "distaste for any kind of social interaction", Dream secretly craves for companionship. That was the whole point of "Men of Good Fortune", and that's probably the reason why he has all these assistants. Though if I remember correctly, there are brief mentions in the comic of Destiny and Despair having some sort servants too. Even Death has her goldfish. I think Desire is the only Endless who's explicitly stated to live alone in hir realm.

  • What's Desire's problem with Dream? Is there a specific reason for it to try and hurt Dream all the time? I haven't yet read Brief Lives, The Kindly Ones or The Wake, so I wouldn't want to get any spoilers but I'm wondering if there's, in the parts that I read, some explanation for Desire's behavior towards Dream that I missed.


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