If you had any doubt if The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country was good, make sure to read issue #2 out today in comic book shops. James Tynion IV and Lisandro Estherren not only flesh out the story here, but give us new insights into the Dreaming that expand the imagination. When it comes to Sandman universe storytelling, that’s what it’s all about, but there are also horrors to be seen in the latest issue too.
The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country #2 opens with Flynn very annoyed that the Corinthian is in her apartment. It’s a direct continuation of where we left off with her. This interaction helps establish Flynn’s personality while showing Corinthian is quite intrigued by her art, so much so that he treats her kindly enough. Soon they’re on a train talking about his teeth for eyes and how they work. It’s a fun bit of comics storytelling that helps flesh out characters while bringing in some realism because, seriously, how do teeth eyes work?
Lisandro Estherren draws the issue with colors by Patricio Delpeche. The art has a watercolor look to it that makes it feel indie and introspective. It’s not quite dreamlike at times, but it certainly has that effect in Flynn’s flashback of seeing the smiling man. There’s practically an expressionistic style at times that is compelling outside of the scene itself. The final cliffhanger page is also gorgeously done and shows a mastery of color and composition.
At one point, Andrea Sorrentino and Jordie Bellaire take over the art in a scene fleshing out the library in the Dreaming. These scenes are gorgeously done and the change in art style suits the importance of what we learn. In these scenes, Tynion establishes the fact that every idea for a book, whether it’s started on the page or simply thought about, is filed away in this magical library. This is not only a cool idea, but it is a means for Corinthian to do some detective work. These scenes are ominous in their darkness, but also practically heavenly in the use of bright yellows of the stacks. Sorrentino also gives us an impressive double-page splash that plays with a layout that he’s known for.
Simon Bowland’s letters appear hand-drawn giving the dialogue an earthy almost poetic feel. Word balloons are broken up in an organic and pleasing way.
What makes this issue truly work, though, is how it builds off the first issue to establish what this narrative is going to be about. It wasn’t very clear after the first issue, but now we know there’s a race to save Flynn and anyone else who has seen the smiling man. This issue solidifies the purpose of the story arc so much so it might have made more sense to ship the first and second issues together.
The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country #2 is a near-perfect issue, although it relies on the first issue to truly reach that perfection. In many respects, Nightmare Country is beautiful in all its horrors as it explores what lies beneath blending the dreaming and waking life. This is must-read horror storytelling.
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