Destruction (DC Comics)
Destruction, as drawn by Michael Zulli in The Wake, the final Sandman volume
|First appearance||The Sandman Special #1 (November 1991)|
|Created by||Neil Gaiman
|Team affiliations||The Endless|
|Abilities||formerly nigh-omnipotent aspect of destruction and creation|
Fictional Biography Within The Sandman
He is the fourth eldest of the Endless, and is depicted as a big, red-haired, bearded man (somewhat resembling actor Brian Blessed; Gaiman has mentioned that he would like Blessed to play Destruction in the event of a Sandman movie). He is also known as Olethros. In appearances set in earlier centuries, he is depicted wearing military gear (such as a musketeer's uniform, or plate armour), though in more recent times he is shown in colourful clothes with no particular theme. When Delirium and Morpheus encounter him in the seventh collection of issues in the series, Brief Lives, he has taken to wearing his hair in a ponytail, and owns a talking dog, Barnabas. Since he abandoned his responsibilities there is no sigil in the galleries for him, though he keeps his own gallery (wherein is a sword, his sigil). His realm is not portrayed in the series.
Destruction abandoned his realm and his responsibilities some time around the turn of the seventeenth century. The reason for this was the onset of the human Age of Reason, which would eventually culminate in the invention of the atomic bomb. Destruction was unwilling to be responsible for the destruction this would cause, and therefore left the family. He did not cease to exist as the active aspect of Destruction, he simply stopped directing the affairs over which he has control. As he says, destruction did not stop, it was merely no longer his fault. Destruction features most prominently in Brief Lives, in which his siblings Morpheus and Delirium set out to track him down. When they finally meet they do not exactly argue but talk at cross-purposes; Destruction's choice of path baffles and to some degree infuriates Morpheus, while Destruction finds it hard to comprehend Morpheus' position and concentrates on trying to impart to him some wisdom on the necessity of change and self-knowledge. Delirium just wants her brother back; she is reliant on her siblings for support, particularly her elder brothers. In the end, Destruction simply leaves, packing his sword into a bindle, stepping into the sky and vanishing.
Destruction is self-obsessed in the most positive sense of that term; after giving up his responsibilities he concentrates instead on attempting to learn about his own nature and exert control over it. This is manifested in his deliberate attempt to subvert his own essential nature and create instead of destroy; he is shown at various points writing indifferent poetry, painting an indifferent picture, cooking a meal left untouched by those for whom it was intended, and brewing Greek coffee which Delirium fails to drink properly. Several characters refer to him as being a horrible artist. It's likely that Destruction is inspired by Death's suggestion that everyone can know everything. He tells Dream in Brief Lives that each Endless is really a lord of opposites: life and death, dreams and reality, destruction and creation, destiny and freedom, etc.
As an aspect of change, Destruction also foreshadows the eventual downfall and replacement of his brother Dream in this interaction. It was Destruction, in fact, who told Orpheus that Death had a way for him to visit the Underworld, which set off the chain of events leading to Dream's end.
He reappears in the Sandman sequel Endless Nights, in the story Destruction- On the Peninsula, where he is shown guiding and babysitting Delirium after a mental breakdown, and assisting in the excavation of a site that contains relics from a possible future. When he reappears later in the book, it is during the story arc Destiny-Endless Nights. His statue in Destiny's garden is in line with the statues of the other Endless, facing the opposite direction, likely representing his aversion to his principles and obligations, and seclusion from his siblings, and his sigil and portrait (the fourth in chronologically-ordered row) in Destiny's gallery are draped with a cloth.