Making the Grade: Neil Gaiman’s Endless

(This list is dedicated to Jill, a gal whose delirious desires causes me no end of despair and may someday be the death of me. Happy birthday, kiddo!)

endless-dream

Dream
Lord of dreams, sovereign of stories, master of all non-corporeal realms within and beyond our wildest imaginations… and a right proper wanker, to use a term from his creator’s native land. I’m sorry, he know he’s the marquee name here, but a broodier, more humorless git would be hard to find. You just know that if all the Endless were re-imagined as college students, Dream would be the melodramatic theatre major sitting in the back row at the trendier poetry readings, smoking his fair-trade clove cigarettes while wearing a scarf in July and telling everyone who asks if he saw last week’s The Walking Dead that he doesn’t even own a TV because it’s so utterly bourgeois to have one and by the way it’s so hard feeling these deep feelings that no one else could possibly feel. Whatever, Drama Boy. BONUS WIKIPEDIA FACT: Dream’s likeness was supposedly based on Bauhaus frontman and “Godfather of Goth” Peter Murphy. This probably means something to people way hipper than those of us who made our last music purchase around the time Hootie and the Blowfish were climbing up the charts. C-

endless-death

Death
Death is the best example I can think of when trying to explain Neil Gaiman’s marketing genius to people who are unfamiliar with his works. Stick a robe and a scythe on a skeleton and call it a day? Heavens to Murgatroyd, no. Gaiman’s Death is the chirpiest, most practical ankh-wearing Goth chick you’ll ever meet, an accommodating and non-judgmental escort to the afterlife who’s all about keeping it real, and not above whacking some common sense into her siblings when they get a little too self-absorbed. I remember being in a line-up to meet Gaiman at a bookstore signing; while a few of us proudly represented the comic nerd contingent, I also stood behind a guy with a briefcase who looked like a banker and right in front of a gaggle of over-mascaraed girls whose wardrobe choices made Sylvia Plath look like Cyndi Lauper during her “She Bop” years. Trust me, they weren’t in line with copies of Season of Mist because they were really into tall blind guys in robes with their cosmic logs. Heh, “logs.” A

endless-destinyDestiny
Speaking of someone who’s probably really pissed he didn’t wait for the iPad Air to come out. Forget about imagining what it must be like to be the living embodiment of destiny and dragging around a massive book that contains information about all that ever was, is, and will be; imagine for a moment living with someone who knows everything that’s has happened or is going to happen to everyone. “Honey, don’t start that college fund for the kids. No, no reason. And I wouldn’t get too attached to the older one, either. Why? Um, no reason.” I imagine any conversation with him would get annoying really fast because of him saying “I knew you were going to say that” all the time, but I can see how hanging out with someone who can see the future would come in handy when it’s time to make important decisions. Like deciding whether to buy that extended warranty. Or if you really ought to invest seven seasons in a TV show that’s destined to have the crappiest final season (*cough*Dexter*cough*) in history. You know, the important stuff. B-

endless-desireDesire
I dont’t like Desire precisely because the whole point of Desire is you’re supposed to want him-slash-her or whichever person, place or thing he-slash-she wants you to be hopelessly in love with. Does the living personification of longing have nothing better to do than muck around with my weekend plans? Shouldn’t I be able to live my life without him-slash-her putting  notions of a desirous and/or carnal nature in my head at inconvenient times? That tile grout is not going to clean itself, you know. Plus every time I see Desire in a story, for some reason I hear Sandra Bullock’s character from Miss Congeniality in my head — you know, the part where she teases her FBI partner by singing, “You think I’m gorgeous, you want to kiss me…” And the worst part is, if you give in to the temptation to smack Desire right in his-slash-her smug face, it’s still a win for him-slash-her because it’s something you want to do, and wanting to inflict violence upon him-slash-her still counts as a desire — which, you know, is the whole point of his-slash-her existence. That, and pointing out how much English sucks on the gender-neutral pronoun front. D

endless-despairDespair
Every time I see short, squat, jagged-toothed, always-naked Despair in a story, I like to imagine her speaking with the voice of one of Marge Simpson’s sisters. Then I start thinking about what she might say if, like the desperately lonely Selma Bouvier, she ever joined a video dating service: [REC] “Um, hi. I’m, uh, Despair, the physical embodiment of depression and hopelessness. I keep rats as pets. They’re… nice. I don’t get out much; my work keeps me busy, especially in this economy. The place where I live is… clean. I have these windows in my realm that let me look out through mirrors in the mortal world and see the faces of everyone who’s feeling blue… or, you know, suicidal. My hobbies include knitting, organizing my Netflix queue, and ripping my flesh with this hooked ring I wear… Oh, and I like long walks on the beach. Call me. I’ll be right there by the phone. Waiting. Always waiting…” C

endless-deliriumDelirium
How can you not love Delirium? Her speech balloons are pretty, wavy rainbows! Rainbows! She creates flying fish out of thin air just so she watch them swim in the air all around her head! She looks and sounds like a 14-year-old girl while in fact is actually the immortal, nigh-omnipotent personification of insanity and irrationality, so the kids get to enjoy the pretty rainbows and flying fish while Dad gets to check her out and not feel like a disgusting old perv! Plus, her native dimension is a realm of pure chaos through which only those who are already deeply insane can visit unscathed… which sounds a lot like the bedrooms of most 14-year-olds, now that I think about it. So apropos all around. A-

endless-destructionDestruction
Finally, there’s Destruction, the prodigal son among the Endless. In the Sandman stories, he’s the one who gave up being the avatar of destruction (band name alert!) on this plane of reality about three centuries ago, mainly because he saw humans entering the Age of Reason, did the math, and realized it was only a matter of time before we destroyed ourselves with their own weapons, and he wasn’t really down with that. So he went on a walkabout with his loyal talking dog (because what’s the point of having more power than the gods if you can’t make yourself a loyal talking dog?), cut off contact with his squabbling siblings, and resolved to learn more creation, by learning how to paint, cook, write poetry, do carpentry, sing karaoke, you name it. Mind you, he’s not terribly good at any of those things — it’s hard to imagine the living embodiment of destruction sitting down at a pottery wheel, much less churning out some top-notch ceramics — but he gives it a try because, as he tells Dream, no one should let their existence be dictated by what they’re “supposed” to do with their lives. Seems kind of fitting that the member of the Endless most associated with change is all about making a change in his own life, just as he’s “destroying” the notion that his siblings must be forever identified by their jobs. See what I did just there, getting all ironic using Destruction’s name? That’s why they pay me the big bucks here at Comic Lists Central. B+

 

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