THIS WEEK: The DC Round-Up team convenes for a roundtable discussion of The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country – The Glass House #1.

Note: the review below contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comic in question, check out the bottom of the discussion for our final verdicts.

The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country – The Glass House #1

Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Lisandro Estherren
Colorist: Patricio Delpeche
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover Artist: Reiko Murakami

Joe Grunenwald: Welcome to your monthly DC Round-Up Roundtable! This week we’re focusing on a single book for our discussion, as The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country returns for the beginning of its second arc, The Glass House. Team, what did you think of the series’ kickoff?

Cori McCreery: This arc seems a lot more connected to the Sandman universe as a whole than the first arc I think. Certainly two characters in this book that I did not expect to see make their returns, and it was really good to see what’s happened with them in the time since the original series.

Zack Quaintance: I agree with it being more Sandman-y, or really putting the Sandman Universe in Nightmare Country: Sandman Universe. Which is maybe part of why I liked it so much? I thought it was the strongest issue yet for this team and this concept.

Grunenwald: I notoriously have a terrible memory when it comes to remembering things that I’ve read, so I appreciated how the script from James Tynion IV incorporated just enough recap of what had gone on in the previous issues to refresh my addled mind. In that way I found this book really accessible as a first issue. As for the returning Sandman characters, I think I recognized one of them, though they’re not named by name so I could be mistaken, and the other, who is named, I have no memory of from before, so I’m excited to meet them again for the first time.

McCreery: They were both named Joe.

Grunenwald: Wow, you would think I’d have remembered them.

Quaintance: That’s a good point about the accessibility. I think another part of that is that while there are ties back to Sandman, this individual issue is built with a concept that makes for a really compelling standalone comic. An ambitious tech guy would do anything to get ahead, and that includes following his CEO to literal hell.

Also, one storytelling trope I love in almost every context is the warehouse that is one thing when someone goes there, and then just an empty warehouse when someone else goes there, like that episode of Seinfeld where George is dating a model, and gets access to a nightclub full of models that is no longer there when things inevitably go bad with said model.

McCreery: I did appreciate that a lot.

Grunenwald:Nightmare Country: The Glass House #1: Just like an episode of Seinfeld.” – Zack Quaintance

Quaintance: There’s a great reference for the kids.

Grunenwald: I agree, though, it was really well done here. I liked the mystery of what the second location was going to be, and then the reveal of it was handled nicely.

Quaintance: Yeah, exactly, it was really well-paced, building the suspense to the reveal very well.

McCreery: I also really liked the art in this, it really felt reminiscent of the original Sandman series in tone and style, and experimentation.

Grunenwald: Yes, Lisandro Estherren and Patricio Delpeche‘s artwork is fantastic. I particularly loved the opening sequence in the first bar/nightclub. The visuals were so evocative. I felt like I could smell that place, and hear the loud music just based on the body language of the dancing characters in the background. That’s Hell for me, so the contrast to actual Hell was also pretty fun.

Quaintance: The colors were so good in that opening sequence. There’s such an ominous tone to the colors in all those opening scenes. It reminds me of this famous painting, At The Moulin Rouge by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, especially the coloring in the face in the bottom right corner. Unsure if that’s intentional, but that’s where my mind went. It seems kind of designed to ask you if this is really fun.

Grunenwald: I’ve never seen that before but I can absolutely see the comparison. That’s beautiful. As this series continues, now that more Sandman elements seem to be being brought in, do you all have anyone or anything you hope makes an appearance?

McCreery: Honestly? Let me see Barbie again. What’s she up to?

Grunenwald: Was that a callback to something from the original series?

McCreery: Do you not remember Barbie and Ken, Joe? They were characters in The Doll’s House where we first encountered The Corinthian. Two of Rose Walker’s roommates. Then Barbie was a key player in A Game of You.

Grunenwald: See above re: my poor memory. That’s great, though, and clearly didn’t impact my enjoyment of the issue that I didn’t recognize it as a callback.

Quaintance: I would like to see Delirium and Barnabas again. Or maybe not? Sometimes with comics I think I want to see old characters but then their new appearances make me realize that the way we last saw them was perfect. I think that’s true of a lot of Sandman for me.

Grunenwald: That’s a really good point, Zack. Sometimes it’s a double-edged sword.

McCreery: I get that point of view Zack, but then we get something magical like The Dreaming: Waking Hours and I rethink that thought. And with the way this first issue hit, it feels like it’s more of that and less of the utterly forgettable first run of Sandman Universe titles.

Quaintance: Yeah, and I like how they’ve handled The Corinthian for example, where it’s just sort of new version of The Corinthian, which is something Sandman traded in with the way the first run has Dream die and Daniel take over the role. I trust this creative team to use restraint and do the characters justice, too.

Grunenwald: I don’t have a wishlist for returning characters or concepts myself. I’m happy to go along for the ride on this one. Do you all have anything else you want to mention about this book before we render verdicts?

McCreery: Just that I’m really glad that the Sandman Universe line isn’t actually dead. Gives me hope for more stories from G. Willow Wilson and Nick Robles down the line.

Quaintance: I’m good. Ready to render my verdict as a strong BUY.

McCreery: I’m also a BUY on this one.

Grunenwald: It’s a BUY for me as well. Great for people who remember things and people who don’t alike.

And with that, this month’s roundtable is over! We’ll be back again next month for more captivating comics conversation! 

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