10 Unanswered Questions in The Sandman

October 30, 2013 at 6:25 pm (Articles / Interviews) (, , , )

Warning: a fair bit of gushing and spoilers about the Sandman.

In The Sandman, one will find plenty more questions than answers. Like Cain once told Abel – it’s the mystery that keeps people interested, not the secret behind it.

Outside of the series’ original 75-issue run however, writer Neil Gaiman has taken the opportunity to reveal just a few of the secrets behind the mysteries.  If you want to know why Dream is always in conflict with Desire (besides the fact that they’re both douchey to each other), you’ll find out in The Heart of a Star, published as part of the Sandman 10th Anniversary special Endless Nights, that Desire once caused one of Dream’s lovers to betray him. If you want to know why Death decided to take human form once every hundred years, you’d have to read A Winter’s Tale, originally published as part of Vertigo: Winter’s Edge #2.

The Sandman: Overture, which marks Gaiman’s first new Sandman story in a looong while (and the first Sandman story to be drawn by the awesome HG Williams III), will be answering a question that was never overtly stated, but has sort of floated discreetly behind the ongoing action.

In the start of the series, Dream of the Endless was captured by humans and imprisoned. But Dream, being of the Endless, is mightier than gods and demons. So how the hell does he find himself encased in a glass globe?

In Brief Lives, we get the only clue as to why – Dream is shown to have emerged from a far away galaxy, “in triumph”, but “tired beyond reckoning and tried beyond all endurance” – weak enough to then be caught by a bunch of human cultists. Which begs the question, what in the Vertigo universe can possibly weaken a member of the Endless?

The first of The Sandman: Overture’s six issues is already out.

Before reading it, here are just a few of the other Sandman questions that have remained unanswered.

How did Delight become Delirium?

We know that a long, long time ago, Delight of the Endless cracked and became Delirium. In Brief Lives, we get a hint that this has something to do with Delirium realizing that “the universe was changing”, and she was growing older. We also know that sometime during her transition, she sought out her big brother Destruction, who held her until stopped giggling uncontrollably. Destruction hints out, later on in the collection that she’ll be undergoing more changes in the future. What could Delirium possibly become?

Who is Alianora?

Alianora was the woman who, presumably, Morpheus built the little dream land that would later belong to Princess Barbie in A Game Of You. She is the “old love” Morpheus says good bye to when he unmakes the land, and he later tells Barbie that he had created the land as part of a “compromise” he had made with her.

Although the specifics of their relationship is never revealed, it’s interesting to note that Lucien mentions Alianora (although he says her name as “Eleanora”) along with Nada and Calliope as the women whom Morpheus had a hell of a time getting over.


What exactly is Queen Titania’s relationship with Morpheus?

You can probably guess. But like she says in The Wake, her relationship with the Dream King is none of your fucking business.


Who were Etain and Leib-Olmai the Alder Man?

We know that they were friends of Destruction, and as such, were in the direct line of fire when Dream and Delirium went off to try and find him. Etain escapes by virtue of some sixth sense which makes her throw herself out of her apartment a moment before it explodes. Delirium later figures she’s gone into hiding in some far off realm. The Alder Man on the other hand, realizes that some kind of death is after him, so he turns himself into a bear to throw it off. That’s all we know about these two, but that’s seriously enough to get you wanting to know more.

Who was the voice who asks ‘Which of them is dead?’

In World’s End, we hear a story of a mysterious room underneath the Necropolis Litharge where cerements are hung on the wall, and a Book of Ceremony waits on a pedestal. A disembodied voice asks “Which of them is dead?”. We learn in The Wake, that the answer to that question is whoever of the Endless has died. This opens up a host of questions: Who put that room there? Is it connected to whoever sends out the messengers to tell the other Endless that one of them has died? Why was the voice mourning the dead Endless? Are there a limited number of cerements in that room, to suggest there’s a limited number of times a member of the Endless can die?

The closest we get to an explanation is at the beginning of The Wake, when we are told that “there are some forces that not even the Endless question too closely.”

How did the first Despair die?

Despair is the only member of the Endless (before Morpheus anyway), who had ever died and had to be replaced before. We briefly see the first Despair in Endless Nights, and she seems to be a tad more sociable than the current one. Daniel tells Lyta at the end of Kindly Ones that the person responsible for the death of the first Despair will take longer than eternity to pay for it. But who that is, and why, and how, is never made clear.


What and where are the other eagle stones?

The Ruby was destroyed, and the Emerald now belongs to Daniel. We know that there are more eagle stones, and that they’re scattered, but what they are, and whether Daniel intends on getting them all back, remains a mystery.

Who were Merv’s predecessors?

We know that Matthew’s predecessors include the Ravens Jessamy, Aristeas, and even Lucien. But has Merv always been the pumpkin-headed custodian of the Dreaming? When Morpheus and Shakespeare go to the Dreaming for a drink, in the very last issue of Sandman, we see a turnip-headed creature with a bucket of water toiling in the castle. So that’s either the custodian of the Dreaming before they decided to move on to pumpkins, or Merv himself, before the pumpkin head.

Who are Ruthven and his lady companion?

Ruthven is interesting by virtue of him being a giant rabbit in Edwardian clothes, whose constant companion is a pretty lady. All we know about them is that they hang out in the Dreaming, and were among those who were slain by the Kindly Ones, but were brought back by Daniel. There’s probably a backstory for them somewhere.

Do the woman who cries blood and the man in the pajamas know each other in real life?

Similarly, the woman who cries blood and the man in the pajamas were first seen in Season of the Mists, where they were sleeping humans brought to serve at the table of Dream of the Endless. They seem to know each other, but we never find out why. We next see them during The Wake, where the woman seems to be bleeding from the eyes, and the man in the pajamas offers her a piece of cloth to wipe the blood. The cloth, he says, comes from the memory of a curtain he had over his crib as a child.

Anyone who has ever read The Sandman will have left it with certain questions left unanswered. What are yours?

Click on images for their respective sources. None of these images are  mine.



  1. Wallace Wells said,

    More interesting questions…

    – I think it’s possible that Rose is immortal. People keep commenting she looks younger than her age.


    If you haven’t read Sandman Overture 1


    I wonder if anybody’s noticed the words hidden in the borders of the Morpheus and Corinthian scene? The message is kind of vague… Maybe there are more words I could not make out?

    • inthegrayworld said,

      I always thought Rose just aged more slowly than usual. That’s the least you get for being the sorta-child of one of the Endless :D.

    • Leah said,

      Sandman Overture 1



      Thanks for pointing the words out, I would have never noticed them if I didn’t see your comment! As for the words themselves, this is what I managed to work out:

      Where dreams live now
      Some dreams die

  2. Kat Alvarez (@spathodeas) said,

    Maybe it’s weird, but when I first read that Delirium used to be Delight, it felt natural. It’s possible to delight in something so much that you lose your grip on everything else. Maybe she changed as people increased and their fixations got more fixed.

    We’ve seen her pull herself together, and I think that could be a clue to whoever she might be in the future. Maybe then, she could represent the sort of clarity that you can get from an acid trip (not that I’ve done acid. This theory is mostly inspired by the role of hallucinogenic mushrooms in “Island”, by Aldous Huxley).

    A word for that that starts with D might be difficult to find, though.

  3. Rozz said,

    I wonder is that crying woman Donna? I heard she was at the funeral right?

  4. chuu2venge said,

    I always wondered the last one and just who Aliana was. I thought they were mythological icons at first

  5. Jude Deluca said,

    If you want to know about Alianora, read Overture #3.

  6. Jude Deluca said,

    Oh my God I think I just got it regarding the servant with the turnip head. Some of the earlier stories about the Jack O’Lantern had a turnip being used as a lantern instead of a pumpkin. That might be it.

  7. Liam said,

    I think the woman with the bleeding eyes from ‘The Wake’ is Judy who died in the diner.

  8. sdf said,

    It’s not my first time to go to see this site, i am browsing this web site dailly and obtain nice facts from here everyday.

  9. Camila said,

    They said that Nada’s story had a version told by women… But it was never told. At least not that I know of…

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