After many decades of development, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman is finally coming to live-action, thanks to a new series on Netflix. DC Comics’ Sandman, known by his proper names Dream and Morpheus, is the master of the Dreaming, an otherworldly realm where our dreams and nightmares originate. He is one of the Endless, an immortal family with a long and tangled history. But which characters from the comics make it into season one? Here are the key players for the first season of The Sandman on Netflix:
Dream/Morpheus (Tom Sturridge)
Dream, or Morpheus as he is also known, is the titular Sandman of the series. He is one of the Endless, living embodiments of human attributes that have existed for billions of years. He has complete control of the Dreaming, the realm where humans spend one-third of their lives. And he has nearly unlimited magical abilities. In the comic book series, a power-hungry human traps Dream for decades, letting his magical totems fall into the wrong hands. Much of the early Sandman stories involved him getting them back, and we expect the Netflix series to start out the same way.
Lucienne (Vivienne Acheampong)
The head librarian in the Dreaming, Lucien (in the Netflix series, spelled Lucienne) lives in Morpheus’ castle, where the books on everyone’s lives and stories reside. In the original comics, Lucien was a man, but they gender swap him for the Netflix series. When Dream vanished for a century, Lucien was effectively in charge of the Dreaming. But when Morpheus returns, Lucien becomes the Sandman’s right hand again. Their relationship is respectful but sometimes prickly.
Cain and Abel (Sanjeev Bhaskar and Asim Chaudhry)
Cain and Abel were actually DC Comics characters that existed in horror anthology titles from the 1970s, like House of Mystery and House of Secrets. But Neil Gaiman reinvented them for The Sandman, as dreams that are manifestations of the Biblical characters of the same name. They are, essentially, the first murderer and the first murder victim. And in the Dreaming, Cain is constantly killing Abel over and over again, in an endless cycle. They also have an adorable pet Gargoyle.
Matthew the Raven (Patton Oswalt)
Matthew the Raven is another character Neil Gaiman reimagined from DC Comics lore. He was originally Matt Cable, a government agent who was a character in the Swamp Thing comics. Neil Gaiman resurrected him as Dream’s Raven companion, where he simply goes by the name Matthew. We imagine that the connections to the world of Swamp Thing get brushed aside. But since Patton Oswalt voices him, we’re more than ok with that.
John Dee (David Thewlis)
In the original comics, John Dee is the real name of the Justice League villain, Doctor Destiny. He used the stolen Dreamstone of Morpheus, gifted to him by his mother, to give himself vast powers. An inmate at Arkham Asylum, he later breaks free and causes all kinds of damage. In the comics, he has an almost skeletal look, which they’re not keeping for the show. But the great David Thewlis plays him on the series, so we get it. Why cover up that expressive face?
The Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook)
The being known as the Corinthian is a male-presenting figure, who is actually a nightmare creation of Morpheus. He escaped the Dreaming, and let loose in the waking world, where he murders young men for sport. Having no eyes, and instead, two small mouths where his eyes would be, the Corinthian always wears sunglasses to hide these terrifying features. He inspired a whole century’s worth of serial killers. Killers who thought of themselves as “collectors.”
Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste)
Death is Dream’s positively cheerful sister, who is exactly what her name suggests—the embodiment of the end of life. In the comics, she is portrayed as a young woman, who always wears an ankh necklace around her neck. She is there at the end of everyone’s life, guiding them into what comes next for them beyond this world. She is her brother Dream’s closest friend among his Endless family. And she is the only one who can speak to him in certain honest terms.
Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman)
Many fans know DC Comics supernatural investigator and occult expert John Constantine. If not from the movie Constantine with Keanu Reeves, then by his role in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. But in Sandman, Neil Gaiman introduced his ancestor, Johanna Constantine, an 18th-century adventurer. She only made a few appearances in the comics, but it looks like she will have an expanded role in the Netflix series. Probably taking over her descendant’s role in the present day.
Lucifer Morningstar (Gwendoline Christie)
Lucifer Morningstar is the Fallen Angel and ruler of Hell, just as in the Biblical tales. The absolute ruler in the realm of the Underworld, Lucifer appears androgynous and was designed to look like a young David Bowie. Lucifer has ruled in Hell for over 10 billion years, during which time a rivalry with Dream began. Gwendoline Christie portrays Lucifer in the series. Interestingly enough, the main character on the TV series Lucifer is also based on Neil Gaiman’s version of the character from The Sandman.
Rose Walker (Kyo Ra)
In the original comics, Rose Walker is a young American woman with incredible power. Unknown to anyone but those in the Dreaming, Rose is a once-in-a-millennium individual known as a Dream Vortex. In other words, a human who can break down the barriers between dreams and reality. But in the Waking World, she’s just a concerned sister trying to reconnect with her missing brother. She is a major character in the collection of Sandman stories, The Doll’s House and she plays an important role in season one of The Sandman.
Lyta and Hector Hall (Razane Jammal and Lloyd Everitt)
In the comics, Hippolyta “Lyta” Trevor Hall and her husband, Hector Hall, are the children of icons. Lyta is the daughter of the 1940s Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, named Hippolyta after Diana’s Mother. Hector is the son of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. As young people, they were the heroes Fury and Silver Scarab. After Hector dies, his dream self manages to impregnate his wife Lyta, creating a break in the barrier between Dreams and Reality. Both characters appear in the Netflix series, only with their connections to iconic DC heroes removed.
The Sandman season one arrives on Netflix on August 5.