This is the first The Sandman that I’ve read, and it was obvious that this is not the place to start. I imagine that you have to already know these characters and their stories to get much out of this. Each vignette focuses on one of the Endless, who are evidently some mix of mythological god-like incarnations of human emotions… or something. There is not a lot of explanation for anyone new to the series. Some of the vignettes are stories. Some are fragmented portraits of that specific character. I thought the stories were weak, but that could be because I came into the book knowing nothing about the characters.
The artwork, on the other hand, made it a worthwhile read. I particularly enjoyed the artwork in “Fifteen Portraits of Despair” by Barron Storey and, of course, “Delirium Going Inside” with art by Bill Sienkiewicz. Storey’s portraits of Despair are fragmented and bizarre, capturing the terror and hopelessness that accompanies despair.
Sienkiewicz is a personal favorite. Delirium actually has a story, but I couldn’t make much sense of it. Maybe that’s the point, seeing that it is Delirium, but I got the feeling that there is a back story that I didn’t know that would have explained it. However, Sienkiewicz’s collage and watercolor style is brilliant as always.