Saturday, 7 December 2013


I mentioned that Neil Gaiman's The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes (New York, 1995) includes a reference to the Batman which would work almost as well if the reader thought that the characters, like us, regarded the Batman as fictitious whereas in fact, for them, he is a real masked vigilante. They read about him in newspapers, not in comic books. In other words, the Sandman series is set in the main DC Comics continuity - although, if a writer is able to exploit the ambiguity, then his captions and dialogue can be read either way.

Earlier in Preludes, there is a similar reference to the other main DC character. An investment counselor dreams of:

a lamborghini;
crucifixion because he's the son -
- last son of a dying planet, flying.

From a dream of sex to a dream of flying!

Obviously someone reading just this one installment, originally published as Sandman, no 3 (see image), can think that the dream segues from one mythical figure to another, from the only Son of God to the last son of Krypton, and the story works perfectly well on this hypothesis. However, another perception of this one story, confirmed by reading it in the context of the rest of the series, is that the investment counselor co-exists with Superman and knows about him in the same way that you and I know about the US President. The counselor, like me, lives in Britain so is unlikely to see either the President or Superman in the flesh but nevertheless his life coincides with theirs. Several comic series can be understood as displaying different aspects of a single reality.

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