The Sandman: A Game of You
|The Sandman: A Game of You|
|Publication date||November 1991 - May 1992|
|Title(s)||The Sandman #32-37|
A Game of You (1993) is the fifth collection of issues in the DC Comics series, The Sandman. Written by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Shawn McManus, Colleen Doran, Bryan Talbot, George Pratt, Stan Woch and Dick Giordano, and lettered by Todd Klein. The volume' introduction was written by Samuel R. Delany.
The issues in the collection first appeared in 1991 and 1992. The collection first appeared in paperback and hardback in 1993.
Barbie, a minor character from The Doll's House, has recently divorced and is trying to rediscover her own identity. At the same time, Barbie's rich but childish fantasy world is threatened by a malevolent creature called the Cuckoo. Her hard-pressed imaginary friends reach out into the real world for help, resulting in blood and death in both worlds.
Gaiman often characterises Sandman stories as "male" or "female"; A Game of You, dominated by female characters and points of view, is one of his female stories. Gaiman described A Game of You as "probably" his favorite volume in the series, "because it's most people's least favourite volume, and I love it all the more for that."
Each of the issues in the collection takes its name from a song, including Lullaby of Broadway (represented as "Lullabies of Broadway"), Bad Moon Rising, taken from the Creedence Clearwater Revival song, "Beginning to See the Light", a Velvet Underground song, "Over the Sea to Sky," from a Scottish folk song, and "I Woke Up and One of Us Was Crying" from Elvis Costello's "I Want You."
The central character of A Game of You is Barbie, who was originally introduced a resident of the house where Rose Walker stayed during the events of The Doll's House. In that earlier storyline, Barbie was seen having a vivid dream in which she was a princess in a fantasy realm. But as A Game of You opens, we find a drastically changed Barbie who no longer dreams.
Barbie now lives in an apartment block inhabited by her best friend Wanda, a pre-operative trans woman; the lesbian couple Hazel and Foxglove; the witch Thessaly; and a quiet man named George. Martin Tenbones, a huge dog-like creature who was seen briefly in The Doll's House, somehow manages to escape into the waking world. He is able to find Barbie and give her the Porpentine, a quartz amulet, but not before being gunned down by the police who believe him to be a wild animal. Barbie is confronted with the reality of the fantasy land she used to visit in her dreams. Using the Porpentine, she is able to dream her way back to that place, known simply as the Land.
The Land appears to have been based on classic children's fantasy elements. It is a realm populated by intelligent talking beasts living in picture-book locales. But the Land now faces a threat from the mysterious villain known as the Cuckoo, whom Barbie, here called Princess Barbara, is called on to defeat. Upon returning to the Land she is greeted by Wilkinson the shrew, Prinado the monkey, and Luz the dodo—her allies in the quest.
Back in New York, George, shown to have been recruited by the Cuckoo, magically releases a flock of birds that give nightmares to the other apartment residents. Only Thessaly is immune, and she soon traces the source and kills George. Barbie's friends find her in a coma-like state from which she will not wake.
Thessaly uses George's remains to divine the threat of the Cuckoo. Thessaly then casts a spell to draw down the moon, calling on the goddess in lunar form. The goddess appears with three sets of eyes and repeats many words three times. Thessaly, Hazel and Foxglove travel to the Land—Hazel and Foxglove to help Barbie and Thessaly to claim revenge against the Cuckoo—leaving Wanda with the unconscious Barbie and George's still-animated head. Thessaly's magic has serious consequences including the temporary disappearance of the moon from the sky and a freak storm (Hurricane Lisa) that rages through the city.
Barbie has multiple adventures, which involve pursuit, loss of friends and deep betrayal. Barbie discovers that the Cuckoo resembles herself as a child. The Land turns out to be part of The Dreaming; it is the setting of Barbie's childhood dreams, populated with animated images of her stuffed toys. The Cuckoo is here shown to share many characteristics with real cuckoo birds, such as an ability to impersonate a child and to manipulate members of other species (in this case humans and residents of the Land). She describes Barbie as "the perfect place to develop" and describes herself as "unable to fly." The reader learns that the Cuckoo's plan is to escape from the Land so that she can fly through the worlds and lay her own eggs in more young girls' minds. She causes Barbie to break the Porpentine on a monolith called the Heirogram, an act that summons Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams and creator of the Land.
The destruction of the Porpentine and the monolith means the end of the Land. All its hundreds of creatures march in one long procession that vanishes into the folds of Dream's cloak. He then takes up the entire Land in the palm of his hand and lets it crumble into nothingness. He also greets the Land's original owner, a woman named Alianora, assuring her that the Land has been home to many minds since her own time. He expresses displeasure that Thessaly, Foxglove and Hazel have come to the Dreaming uninvited. Thessaly urges him to kill the Cuckoo, but Morpheus points out that, while the Cuckoo is dangerous, it is not truly evil. He suggests that some action of Barbie's prevented the Cuckoo from leaving the Land on her own and that these events may have had some connection to the events of The Doll's House.
Dream then grants Barbie a single boon. Thessaly urges her to tell Morpheus to kill the Cuckoo, but she instead asks that she and her friends be returned to New York "safe and sound." The Cuckoo escapes into another plane. Her boon is fulfilled but unfortunately the storm has killed Wanda. At the funeral, Barbie meets Wanda's God-fearing parents, who were never able to accept their "son" as a woman. They have Wanda buried with a headstone bearing the name she was born with, Alvin Mann, dressed in a suit and with her hair cut short. Before she leaves, Barbie uses lipstick to cross out "Alvin" and writes "Wanda" on the headstone. She then dreams of Wanda, with a perfect female body, and Death, who both wave goodbye.
|32||Slaughter on Fifth Avenue||Neil Gaiman||Shawn McManus||Shawn McManus||Daniel Vozzo||Todd Klein||Alisa Kwitney||Karen Berger|
|33||Lullabies of Broadway||Neil Gaiman||Shawn McManus||Shawn McManus||Daniel Vozzo||Todd Klein||Alisa Kwitney||Karen Berger|
|34||Bad Moon Rising||Neil Gaiman||Colleen Doran||George Pratt & Dick Giordano||Daniel Vozzo||Todd Klein||Alisa Kwitney||Karen Berger|
|35||Beginning to See the Light||Neil Gaiman||Shawn McManus||Shawn McManus||Daniel Vozzo||Todd Klein||Alisa Kwitney||Karen Berger|
|36||Over the Sea to Sky||Neil Gaiman||Shawn McManus & Bryan Talbot||Shawn McManus & Stan Woch||Daniel Vozzo||Todd Klein||Alisa Kwitney||Karen Berger|
|37||I Woke Up and One of Us Was Crying||Neil Gaiman||Shawn McManus||Shawn McManus||Daniel Vozzo||Todd Klein||Alisa Kwitney||Karen Berger|
- Q&A with Neil Gaiman: Author, DC Comics Superstar, and Character on "The Simpsons", November 22, 2011, Omnivoracious (Amazon blog).