DC Dreams

The Sandman: 11 characters pulled from DC comics history

Not all of The Sandman’s characters were dreamed up by Neil Gaiman.

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Netflix’s The Sandman adapts the Vertigo comic series of the same name. Many of its characters are drawn from fiction and mythology, but plenty also have a surprising history in DC comics.

11. Dream

Played by Tom Sturridge, Dream (also called Morpheus and the Sandman) is the embodiment of dreaming. The melancholic goth king gets a little less grumpy over the course of the series.

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Dream’s appearance and demeanor haven’t changed much from the comics. He changes form frequently, which we see a bit of in the show, but it’s more extreme in the comics (at one point, for example, he shows up as a cat).

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Dream isn’t the first Sandman. The original, Wesley Dodds, debuted in 1939. He’s a hero who uses “sleeping gas” to fight crime, so he’s got nothing to do with our Sandman, though his gas mask inspired Dream’s helm.

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10. Death

We meet Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) in the episode “The Sound of Her Wings,” adapted from one of The Sandman’s best comics. We’ll all meet her again one day.

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Like Dream, Death takes many forms in The Sandman comics, but we usually see her as a cheery woman wearing an ankh. Outside of The Sandman and her own spinoff miniseries, she’s turned up in The Flash, Lucifer, and other DC titles.

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9. Lucienne

Played by Vivienne Acheampong, Lucienne is the librarian of the Dreaming. One of Dream’s few attendants who kept to their duties in his absence, she’s as responsible for maintaining the realm as Morpheus himself is.

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In the comics, Dream’s righthand man is named Lucien. Like a few other characters, his appearance (but not his personality) has changed dramatically for the show. He first appeared in the short-lived 1975 series Tales of the Ghost Castle.

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8. Matthew the Raven

Matthew the Raven has a much bigger role in the early episodes of Sandman than he did in the comics. Voiced by Patton Oswalt, he’s a cantankerous companion to Dream with a wilder backstory than you might assume.

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Matthew mentions being a former human in The Sandman. That human happens to be Matt Cable, a Swamp Thing character who fell into a coma after a car accident and eventually died. His comatose state put him in the Dreaming, so he was able to join the realm instead of going with Death.

7 & 6. Cain and Abel

Seeing Cain (Sanjeev Bhaskar) and Abel (Asim Chaudhry) show up in The Sandman may have been a surprise. The comedic duo lighten up the show, assuming you’re not squeamish about repeated murder.

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Yes, they’re that Cain and Abel. The Biblical first murderer and first victim are two of many characters in The Sandman’s cast pulled from religion, myth, and literature.

Peter Paul Rubens

Strangely, Cain and Abel’s DC comics careers predate The Sandman. Each hosted a horror anthology, The House of Secrets and The House of Mystery, which are alluded to in The Sandman show.

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5. Lucifer

Gwendoline Christie’s Lucifer is another character whose appearance is changed for the show. In both incarnations, Lucifer is a schemer and one of Dream’s many, many adversaries.

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Lucifer needs no introduction. The Lord of Hell and a fallen angel, he’s a cruel deceiver in both religious tradition and popular consciousness. In The Sandman, stories, myths, and beliefs blend as Lucifer rules over a Hell as real as Earth.

Gustave Doré

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Lucifer has also taken on a life of his own in DC comics. Outside of his multiple storylines in The Sandman, he has his own comic series, which got a TV adaptation before Dream came to Netflix.

4. John Dee

John Dee (David Thewlis) is a central figure in The Sandman’s first arc. The son of Dream’s captor, Roderick Burgess, John uses one of Dream’s tools to force a group of people to act out their basest instincts, in the name of “a world without lies.”

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That name may ring a bell to DC fans. John Dee is Doctor Destiny, a Justice League villain who manipulates reality with a gem called the Materioptikon.

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His plotline is mostly the same in The Sandman show and comics, but his identity is changed. Dee’s connection to DC canon, along with references to other DC comics, were all stripped for the TV show. And in the comics, he’s not related to Burgess at all.

3. Johanna Constantine

Jenna Coleman’s performance as Johanna Constantine already has fans calling for a spinoff. Like her better-known relative John Constantine, she’s a haunted occult detective.

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In the comic, it’s John Constantine who meets Morpheus. The demon hunter’s plotline remains the same, and he’s just as hard to get along with as Johanna.

Johanna Constantine does show up in The Sandman comic, but a bit later than she does in the show. In both versions Dream meets her in the 1700s, and she forms a tense team with the lord of dreams.

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2 & 1. Lyta and Hector Hall

Hector (Lloyd Everitt) and Lyta (Razane Jammal) don’t change much from comics to show. After Hector’s death he visits Lyta in a dream, where they conceive a child. Dream ends the season by declaring the child is “his,” though what that means won’t become clear until much later.

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In the comics, Lyta and Hector are similar, though their true identities are much different. Lyta (short for Hippolyta) is the daughter of Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, while Hector is the son of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. The pair battled villains as DC’s Fury and Silver Scarab.

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