Sandman Volume Four: Season Of Mists – Welcome To Hell

Onward and upward, further into the land of dreams than we’ve ever gone before! My trek into the world of Morpheus and his mythical cohort continues with Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: Season Of Mists. This volume feels sprawling and vast, and it offers a hellishly good time. That said, it ain’t perfect. But I’ll get to that. 

Season Of Mists opens with Dream’s brother Destiny assembling the Endless for a meeting. The meeting itself, of course, is part of the collective lowercase-”d” destiny of the siblings, and will kickstart the events that follow. The first issue, then, sees Dream and his family briefly discuss shadowy events yet to come. Fate lures Dream/Morpheus to Lucifer’s realm, where he plans to rescue a long-lost lover who he condemned to hell there for more than 10,000 years. Lucifer’s sworn vendetta against Dream complicates matters. Lucifer relinquishes their grip on hell and empties it, leaving Morpheus with the key. Back in the land of Dreams, unwelcome visitors arrive, seeking to commandeer the realm for their own pantheons. 

Of the Sandman volumes I’ve read so far, Season Of Mists feels the most cohesive and focused. I especially love the narrative that places one incredibly desirable and powerful thing within reach, forcing the factions that want it to deploy their cunningest schemes in an effort to snag it. This structure has permeated pop culture of late: the Roy children vie for corporate supremacy and the control of Waystar RoyCo in Succession. Everyone and their brother seeks the Iron Throne in A Song Of Ice And Fire. In Season of Mists, the key to hell is the sought prize, and the gods of myriad belief systems are the hands snatching for it. All this is to say this installment of Sandman is just pure fun. Morpheus remains a calm and measured leader despite the unwanted burden on his time and energy. The beings encroaching on his territory range from the angelic to the demonic to the barbaric, and he knows just how to exercise his measured restraint amongst them. 

Everything comes together to push this storyline forward. Gaiman’s writing, the gorgeous art, and the striking coloration put for a cogent and intriguing story. Season of Mists plot offers mystery and humor in equal measure, with the series’ trademark tinge of Sandman darkness lending the whole affair an aura of tension. 

All that said, Season of Mists doesn’t earn the title of my favorite Sandman story. Thus far, that designation goes to The Doll’s House. This volume remains a rollicking good time, and it’s a worthy stop along any Sandman pilgrimage. There’s a lot of talking and canoodling in these pages, and the final action scene, though cool, is swift to wrap things up. Mostly, I’m excited to see how Netflix’s upcoming adaptation handles this storyline, particularly with Gwendoline Christie playing Lucifer. I’m still in for the larger series, and I’m excited to see what’s next. I’m learning to expect weird, wacky, and different stories from Sandman. Even if some of them aren’t as good as the others, it feels like discovering a hidden gem with many unique facets.

My expectations from an adaptation shouldn’t impact my review of the source material, though. Color me excited for the streaming service’s take on this story. For now, I’m content to bask in the mystery of Season of Mists and carry on in my Sandman journey, which remains as thrilling as ever. 

Rating: Sandman Volume 4: Season of Mists – 8.0/10

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