On Sunday I finally finished listening to The Sandman Audio drama Act 2. And… I loved it. Yet again, James McAvoy’s delivery of Morpheus’s dialogue either exactly matches what I expected or pleasantly surprised me for being better than I expected. I feared he might have damaged his voice doing the shouting for Lucifer.
I feel there was a definite step-up in quality with the second act of The Sandman Audio drama. The music is excellent and atmospheric. The tone and mood are perfect.
The plot mostly deals with Morpheus finally realizing he was wrong to leave his former lover in Hell. (Who would have thought?) and him going to Hell to rescue her only to find out Lucifer has quit and is shutting the place down. Lucifer leaves Morpheus the key to Hell and Morpheus is forced to deal with entities of myth and folklore all vying for the “Prime psychic real estate” that is Hell. After that there are several semi-stand alone short stories (most of which become important later or already are important and you just don’t realize it yet) and a story about roommates saving their friend from the perils of the very fantasy world she used to escape to as a child.
Some of the best moments include line deliveries such as Morpheus’s reaction to Lucifer saying he has quit. He sounds so delightfully baffled. You can really sense what he’s feeling and thinking through his line delivery. It’s kind of ironic that we were given an excuse against letting Morpheus have his black-void and star-flare eyes in The Sandman Netflix series that suggested it hindered his acting. It is ironic when the version of Morpheus we don’t even see on camera (the one played by the great James McAvoy) is able to act so well, perhaps better than characters he has actually played on camera, that there isn’t the slightest bit of difficulty to figure out what he’s thinking and feeling from line delivery alone. I don’t have enough words to praise how good James McAvoy’s portrayal of Morpheus truly is.
Morpheus scolding Shivering Jenny when she tried to intimidate him actually made me laugh out loud. It’s the delivery that made it.
The voices of Edwin Paine and Charles Rowland are heartbreaking because it makes you realize just how truly young and tragic they were. I actually get angry at Death in that story because I can’t fathom any justification for leaving poor Edwin in Hell even if he thought he would go there because he wasn’t a perfect kid or because of how he was killed. I just can’t accept it. But this is true to the original source material and no fault of the audio drama.
The Thermidor chapter is absolutely wonderful. Hearing Regé-Jean Page singing as Orpheus, in phoenetic Greek, is haunting and beautiful. It gave me chills. In the Parliament of Rooks chapter, The ‘Lil Endless are adorable and also hilarious. Though I was told in advance about it, hearing ‘lil Morpheus’s voice took me by surprise.
I love the voice of Eve. It’s strangely soothing. The casting here was, yet again, perfect.
What changes were made to A Game of You, I feel were positive and reasonable alterations. Wanda is still tragic and she still has to deal with a painful amount of transphobia from horrible people, including her own family. It’s too real and I know it hits close to home for a lot of people. A trans masculine friend of mine cried when he learned the Wanda story, not because he was offended, but because he was so moved and even comforted that Neil seemed to “get it” and he suddenly didn’t feel so alone with how his own family was treating him. He realized others went through it too and it made him feel a little better to know that.
I love the scoring in this audio drama, the music is very atmospheric. The whole thing is very immersive.
This audio book / audio drama is so wonderful that I want to listen to it again in the very near future but pace myself more slowly so that I may savor it now. I feel like I had rushed through it the first time.
All the flaws and faults I have with The Sandman: Act 2 are mostly nitpicks, some of which exist in the original comics such as loathing the logic in how Hell works or the idea that Hell is even necessary for Heaven- it’s really not. Duality isn’t always needed, nor necessary, though sometimes I wish The Sandman did have more of a duality theme such as allowing Daniel as Dream and Morpheus to co-exist but I digress.
Another nitpick is Wanda sounds quite a lot like she has a Long Island accent, which is strange since she’s supposed to be from Kansas, however, Wanda seemed to take pride in living in New York so she may have picked up the accent or fakes the accent so that is plausible.
My biggest nitpick is really quite petty. In a narration about Hell we’re told it was once called Tartarus. This is odd since in another story (Song of Orpheus) we know the God Hades is real and Tararus is a separate place entirely with a whole other mythology attached to it. Orpheus, for example, ends up in Elysium (Greek Heaven) and we see him there in The Sandman: The Wake but that’s not in Act 2 of the Audio drama.
I am still not that big of a fan of Kat Denning’s Death, probably because I already really liked the voice in the fan made motion comic of Sound of her wings up on youtube and Jamie Chung in the DC Showcase Death animated short (bonus feature on the Wonder Woman bloodlines Blu-Ray disc). But Kat Dennings plays the part well and likely is delivering the lines the way we are meant to hear them. Over-all I love The Sandman audio drama and its second act.
I hope more books are adapted as full-cast audio dramas with this much consideration and care with the casting, acting, sound effects, music, and atmosphere. This could be the next step in the evolution of storytelling.