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Comic Book / The Sandman: Endless Nights

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"Everything is in there, from the beginning of time to the end."

The Sandman: Endless Nights is a graphic novel spinoff of The Sandman (1989). It is an anthology featuring seven short comics, each centered around a different member of the Endless. The stories are set at different times (before, during, and after the main series).

All seven stories are written by the comic's author, Neil Gaiman. Each is drawn by different artists. They are:

  1. "Death: Death and Venice": In the past, a hedonistic nobleman escapes Death on an Italian island. In the present, a man visiting Venice pines after Death. Art by P. Craig Russell.
  2. "Desire: What I've Tasted of Desire": A young woman named Kara is in love with the handsome son of her village chief, and learns a couple of lessons from Desire. Art by Milo Manara.
  3. "Dream: The Heart of a Star": The Endless (including Delight and Despair I) attend a gathering of cosmic entities early in this universe. Dream takes his new girlfriend Killalla of the Glow. Art by Miguelanxo Prado.
  4. "15 Portraits of Despair": Fifteen vignettes describing either Despair or people in despair. Art by Barron Storey and Dave McKean.
  5. "Delirium: Going Inside": Delirium gets lost in her realm, and Dream II calls mentally ill individuals to find her. Art by Bill Sienkiewicz.
  6. "Destruction: On the Peninsula": Destruction, accompanying Delirium, participates in a mysterious archeological dig off the coast of Sardinia. Art by Glenn Fabrey.
  7. "Destiny: Endless Nights": Destiny wanders through his garden. Art by Frank Quitely.

The graphic novel was released in 2003.


  • Anthropomorphic Personification: In addition to the Endless, "The Heart of a Star" features stars in humanoid form, who gossip and discuss as humans might.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah: Delight is not exactly enthused at attending the parliament:
    Delight: You know what they will be saying? Blah blah blah blah. That's what they are going to say. Blah blah blah.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Kara directly tells the reader about her history with the man.
  • Call-Forward: "The Heart of a Star" is something of a very distant prequel to The DCU, and features a couple of nods to its cosmic lore:
    • Sto-Oa is the star around which Oa, the home base of the Green Lantern Corps, revolves. It is implied that the "glow" Killalla can control is the energy that will eventually be harnessed by the various Lanterns.
    • Despair I is seen convincing Rao, the sun of Krypton, to create life on an unstable planet so that a Sole Survivor (who will eventually be Superman) can despair.
  • The Casanova: The handsome man in Desire's story has slept his way through the village girls.
  • Crazy Homeless People: At least a couple of the "crazies" Dream recruits to rescue Delirium from her own head are homeless.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The embodiment of the star Mizar puts forward a rather more positive interpretation of Destruction:
    Mizar: His is the process that fuels all the stars. Without him, all would be lifeless and dark.
  • Death by Childbirth: Among the already-dead residents of the island frozen in time on "Death and Venice" is a young girl, whom Death says died in childbirth.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Both Kara's husband and his father were decapitated by rival clans, who then present their heads to the villagers.
  • The Dreaded: In "The Heart of a Star", everyone in the gathering is terrified of Death, since this is before the period when she became the nice girl most readers know. Killalla does not know her and gets confused why everyone is scared of such a pretty girl, so Sto-Oa has to explain that she is the literal Death.
  • Driven to Suicide: Portrait #14 is about a woman who commits suicide by driving into the snowy woods. She's miserable when she realizes that not even killing herself made her happy.
  • Erotic Dream: Rachel understandably has a few dreams about Destruction since he is nice and a well-muscled hunk.
  • False Rape Accusation: Portrait #2. Dermot Byrne is a priest who is forced to leave the vocation after being falsely accused of molesting young girls, despite the fact that he can prove he didn't.
  • Flames of Love: Kara's description of her wedding night:
    "And in our room, we made love like flames: opening, blending, burning."
    • Desire also compares Kara's wanting as a forest fire to most others' candle flame, and at the end of the story, it's made clear that her wanting is blown out entirely.
  • Framing Device: "The Heart of a Star" is being told by our sun, Sol, to our planet and his daughter, Earth.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: In "Death and Venice", a nobleman has intentionally created a loop which includes an entire island and all its inhabitants (including the nobleman himself), in which a decadent consequence-free party has repeated every day for hundreds of years. It's warded to be beyond Death's reach, but she eventually persuades a random human passing by to force open the entrance, letting her slip inside, break the loop, and return everyone to their proper timeline.
  • Hunk: The man the protagonist Kara wants in "What I've Tasted of Desire" is handsome, muscled, cocky, and very capable of defending their small village.
  • Literary Allusion Title: "What I've Tasted of Desire" is named for a line in Robert Frost's "Fire and Ice":
    "From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire."
  • Love Potion: When Kara tells a witch she doesn't believe her love potions work, the witch replies that "they don't not work," in that they give the user the confidence to make the first move instead of shyly pining away.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: How Sol describes the love between the star Sto-Oa and his mortal lover Killalla:
    "She died, as they all die. They do not live very long. But she made Sto-Oa happy, for a moment..."
  • The Men in Black: Black-suited men in sunglasses arrive to shut the dig down, aware of the spacetime distortions that have occurred on the site. Rachel angrily leaves, but it turns out to have been for the best, as the peninsula disappears from reality shortly afterwards.
  • Mundane Solution: When some people try to hide from Death by blocking her out with a magic gate, she asks a passing, off-duty soldier for help. The soldier, not knowing who she is or what is going on, but smitten with her after seeing her for the first time as a young boy, tears the gate down with brute force.
  • Mystical White Hair: Killalla, an alien and one of the first beings to have control over the Glow, has stark white hair.
  • No Name Given: The narrator and viewpoint character of "Death and Venice" is an unnamed soldier.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: The man in Portrait #4 is devastated to come home and find that the colony of cats he'd been supporting had taken to cannibalism when he had to leave for work for several days.
  • Pet the Dog: Desire gives Kara honest advice, including that getting what she wants and being happy are two different things, then teleports her directly to her destination to shave off a few days of travel.
  • Playing Hard to Get: Kara hooks the man she's in love with by refusing his advances (unlike the other girls in the village) knowing that putting out would quench his desire for her. The two get married.
  • Power Born of Madness: Daniel, Matthew, and Barnabas need to assemble a team of Crazy Homeless People to rescue Delirium from whatever inner world she's created for herself, suspecting that anyone sane wouldn't be able to handle it. Each of them sees their particular hallucinations and paranoias coming harmlessly true and enabling them to easily navigate Delirium's world, and it's implied that doing so helps them come to terms with their mental illness and function better in society afterwards.
  • Relative Error: Destruction and his sister Delirium wander near an archeology team's dig site. One member of the team assumes they are a couple and derisively says he's too old for her, while another member assumes they are father and daughter. One member, Rachel, talks to both of them and finds out they are siblings.
  • Scheherezade Gambit: To avenge the men who killed her husband, Kara keeps them distracted all night with her beauty, skills, and flattery, until the men of her village return and slaughter them.
  • Shout-Out: The idea of a nobleman who intends to escape trouble by partying it up in the countryside before Death comes for him is taken from The Masque of the Red Death.
  • Unconfessed Unemployment: Portrait #8 is about a man who doesn't tell his wife he lost his job, and resorts to robbery. It's implied that the portrait is of him just as the cops have come for him.
  • What If?: The protagonist of "Death and Venice" wonders how his life would have panned out if he'd never taken that childhood trip to Venice and met Death. He wonders if he'd have stayed with his partner or if he still would have joined the army.