Our assignment was to read the next two issues (Chapters Three and Four) of A Game of You. Jason Tank and Mike Schilling will be doing the honors this week.

Glyph’s introduction to Sandman, in three parts, here, here, and here.

Preludes and Nocturnes recaps here: Glyph and Patrick tackled the first four issues, Jaybird tackled the fifth, Glyph recapped six and seven. Mike Schilling recapped number eight.

A Doll’s House recaps here: KatherineMW took on the first two issues, then the next two issues. KatherineMW and Jason Tank then reviewed the fifth and sixth, respectively. Mike Schilling reviewed the final two issues.

Dream Country recaps here: Glyph reviewed Calliope then Jaybird and Maribou reviewed Dream of a Thousand Cats in the first review post for Dream Country. Alan Scott reviewed A Midsummer Night’s Dream then Mike Schilling reviewed Façade in the second.

Season of Mists recaps here: Jaybird reviewed the first two in this post. Jason Tank reviewed the next two here. Boegiboe reviewed the next two after that here and here. Ken reviewed the final two here.

A Game of You recaps here: Mike Schilling reviewed the first two in this post.

It’s very difficult to discuss this book without discussing the next one (or the one after that, or the one after that), if you want to discuss something with a major plot point: please rot13 it. That’s a simple encryption that will allow the folks who want to avoid spoilers to avoid them and allow the people who want to argue them to argue them.

We good? We good! Everybody who has done the reading, see you after the cut!

Chapter 3: Bad Moon Rising

The style of art makes an abrupt shift for Chapter 3. Shawn McManus has been providing us art for the first two chapters, and will do it again for chapters 4 and 6. But I can’t figure out who was artist for Chapter 3.

There are three people singled out for this issue: Colleen Doran is penciller, George Pratt is credited as inker… and Dick Giordano is also credited as inker. Meanwhile, Danny Vozzo (colorist) and Todd Klein (letterer) have credit for the entire volume. But nowhere does it say who is the artist for chapter 3.

Apparently, the art for this one just sprang fully formed out of Neil Gaiman’s forehead.

It kinda shows.

Stylistically, the roughness of the art here kinda fits the gruesome, non-dreamy setting of this chapter. Everything feels crude and unreal. But I wanted more clarity.

Anyway, on to the story!

Hazel and Foxglove awaken in the dark and decide they can’t go back to sleep. Hazel, strangely enough, has the most profound comment about nightmares. “It’s like you’re betraying yourself.”

Thessaly comes knocking, seeing if they had bad dreams. (That’s such an understatement, the women can’t even manage a response.) They go to check on Wanda, who for some reason wears makeup to bed. But it’s obvious she’s been through a lot, too. Thessaly’s actually kind to her… and that might be the only time someone could say that about Thessaly.

They get into Barbie’s room, and she’s unconscious, the porpentine’s glowing on her chest. Thessaly gets everyone to bring her to George’s room. Hazel points out Wanda’s “shortcomings”, and I’m compelled to point out Hazel’s pregnant and smoking like a chimney. (Spoiler: Fur yngre nccrnef avar zbaguf certanag va gur yvzvgrq frevrf Qrngu: Gur Uvtu Pbfg bs Yvivat naq unf fhpprffshyyl dhvg fzbxvat, gubhtu fur ynzragf gung fur’yy cebonoyl tb evtug onpx gb vg bapr gur onol pbzrf.)

One in George’s apartment, Thessaly matter-of-factly announces that she killed him and he’s lying in the tub. Everyone freaks out and Wana wants to call the police. Thessaly tells them they can’t leave. Wanda says she’s going. No, Thessaly means they literally can’t leave unless she says so.

We are then treated to two whole pages of Thessaly slicing up George’s face. For some reason, she thinks getting the tongue is a task only her teeth can perform. (Oh, right, this is a horror comic. Nevermind. Carry on.) She nails the face to the wall and it begins answering her questions, spilling George’s guts (so to speak).

Thessaly decides to track down this Cuckoo. She needs menstrual blood, “menstrual” coming from the same root word as “moon” and thus having some sort of bond to it. She’s a dried up crone, Hazel’s a mother-to-be, so it’ll have to be our maiden Foxglove’s.

The triune moon is called by the triune women. Outside, the homeless woman is the only one to realize that the moon has actually vanished. Thessaly is very rude, but gets shit done, and they’re off to the path of the moon. Wanda is left behind, relegated to the status of male by Thessaly, the moon, and maybe the entire universe itself. Naturally, she’s now unsure of herself.

The face on the wall starts talking again.

I suppose the theme here is that face on the wall. Nightmares, strangers, and the moon herself can rip off that front you show the world and expose your inner fears.

Chapter 4: Beginning to See the Light

We open with Barbie and company walking along a mountain path.  It’s covered in snow, and on one side is a sheer drop.  Barbie’s cold, hungry, and wearing a completely impractical party dress.  No one ever said that being a fantasy princess would be easy.

Wilkinson exposits about the rest of their journey:  first, the plain (no cover.)  Then the forest (unfriendly trees.)  Then an area that used to be ruled by the Hieormancer (not any more, since he’s dead, or worse, and now the population won’t be friendly )  Then they’ll pass the Citadel of the Cuckoo (the Cuckoo.)  Barbie, you know this job was dangerous when you took it.

They pass the corpse of the Tantoblin, which we saw in Chapter 1.  He still holds a message scroll.  Oh, and his rib cage is still ripped open. Barbie remembers him as part of a group that guarded a magic, teleporting room and made breakfast.  Barbie orders her followers to help bury his body, although all they have is snow.  Soon she realizes that the snow would have covered him anyway, but when you’re a fantasy princess, you do the right thing whether it makes any damned sense or not.

The scroll contains lots of pictures or Barbie wearing various face paint.  It also described how the cuckoo lays its eggs in other birds’ nests, and the resulting hatchling often kills its nest-mates.  The voice of the cuckoo has a hypnotic power.  Could all of this describe the upper-case Cuckoo as well?  Stay tuned.  The companions find shelter,  just in time for the Black Guard to march past them. While they stay hidden, Barbie looks again at her photos, which have turned into playing cards, and the scroll, whose words have turned into gibberish.  Just as happen in dreams.

Back to the Dreaming.  Dream discovers that the dream-Skerry which is about to disappear is one he’d thought had gone long ago.  We learn that Barbie had one true dream among her nightmares — a fairy named Nuala disobeyed Dream’s orders and tried to warn her of danger.  Nuala apologizes,  but on reflection Dream says she was right to do so.  She is very relieved.

Barbie wakes up warm and happy.  She and Wilkinson gather food, as he brags and complains amusingly.  They all have a lovely breakfast, and discuss metaphysics, which concludes that, while Barbie is dreaming, The Land exists outside her dreams.  As they enter the forest, Wilkinson amuses some more.  The walk through the forest for days, and Barbie is reminded of Mirkwood.  More cross-talk from Wilkinson.  (“What, giant spiders here?  Of course not. They’re in the next forest over.”), while Luz stays safely with clichés (“They are a good people, but greatly diminished.”)  Barbie thinks of a clever way to find the sea, by looking for running water and going downstream, but that’s soon forgotten.

Prinado vanishes.  They find what appears to be his hanged corpse, but it’s actually an evil thing called a Tweener.  They run away, and stumble across a magically safe path, which they can recognize by the glow of the porpentine.  This reminds Barbie of the Yellow Brick Road, even though it’s none of the above.  They reach the sea, and Luz goes to fetch help.

Back in George’s room, Wanda talks to his face, which annoys Wanda by telling her that she was left behind because she’s a man.  He also warns her that when Thessaly fetched the Moon down, that wasn’t a metaphor: it was the actual Moon.  Watch out for high tide.  George is being far more personable than he ever was alive, even if he continues to irritate Wanda by calling her a boy.  Wanda is very freaked out, but determined to stay and guard Barbie.

Back in The Land, Barbie and Wilkinson wait for Luz to return.  Wilkinson for once is feeling optimistic, just in time to find out that Luz has betrayed them by fetching the Black Guard.  He tried to defend Barbie, but he’s immediately killed.  (Throat cut and a spear though his heart.  The Black Guard do not believe in half-measures.)  Luz takes charge and has Barbie handcuffed and marched off.  The last we see of Wilkinson shows the buzzards circling his body.  Barbie is marched to the Citadel, which looks exactly like the house where she grew up.  They remove her handcuffs and she goes in.


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. In hindsight, looking back from the end of the series… I’m going to ROT13 this.

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  2. I generally liked Thessaly but man the girl needs some interpersonal coaching. Talking to the moon like that, honestly!

    So, question. Do we think Luz was a double agent from the cave onward or was Luz turned after going to get help? If Luz had been a double agent for the entire story wouldn’t she have just ratted them out on the snow covered plains?

    • When you live as long as she has, you get to be a bit cocky.

    • Luz didn’t betray Barbie until she stopped s-e-x-ing him.

          • Oh, OK. I was afraid I might have guessed something that turned out to be a spoiler. Apparently not.

    • Luz seemed completely loyal until he left to get help, and we’ve already heard that the Cuckoo can control people to some extent, so all the signs point to him being turned after he left.

      • That’s my inclination to assume as well. Luz went to get help from the “resistance” but the resistance had all been turned and Luz was similarily turned.

    • North got it right, but everyone else seems to have missed this:

      Luz is a she.

      • But she’s a dream-symbol for Ken (I’m pretty sure.)

        • I’ve never thought of her like that. Hmm. It could explain why she’s wearing a dickey and a bowtie, instead of your typical hair bow

        • @ Mike – why do you say that (Luz=symbol for Ken)?

          Also, is there any symbolic significance to Luz’s name? Is it supposed to be ironic that “light” is the betrayer?

          • Given what we find out in chapter 5, I’d say Luz is a symbol for Luz. Same for Prinaldo, Wilkinson, and Martin Tenbones. I have some questions about just what they are, but those are best saved until after 5 and 6.

  3. But nowhere does it say who is the artist for chapter 3.

    Apparently, the art for this one just sprang fully formed out of Neil Gaiman’s forehead.

    It kinda shows.

    Stylistically, the roughness of the art here kinda fits the gruesome, non-dreamy setting of this chapter. Everything feels crude and unreal. But I wanted more clarity.

    From the AVClub’s writeup, this may explain it:

    How do you think the artwork works to emphasize the themes of A Game Of You? Do you notice any particularly striking differences between the work of male artists McManus and Bryan Talbot compared to the art of Colleen Doran in #34?

    Tasha: Ooh, Colleen Doran would hate to see you referring to “her” art in issue #34. She did the pencils, but George Pratt did the awful inks; according to Doran in Hanging Out With The Dream King: Interviews With Neil Gaiman And His Collaborators, a friend of his told Doran he said her art was lousy, and he did a two-day rush job on the book, and then left on vacation, leaving the last few pages undone. She says she threatened to break his fingers, and that he runs whenever he sees her, and that the book hurt her reputation so badly that for years, she carried her original pencils around in her portfolio, so when people brought it up, she could show them what it was supposed to look like. In fact, DC let her redo the art for #34 for the Ultimate Sandman collection. I haven’t seen the final product, but I’ve seen Doran’s other work, and I’m just assuming it’s miles better. Compare her work on her creator-owned comic A Distant Soil with some of Pratt’s butchery

  4. I really like how the first three chapters went about revealing Thessaly’s character. Initially, when you see her, it’s just, “Oh, fairly boring person”. Then she becomes almost instantly impressive when she fights off the cuckoo’s attack, and then shades right into “scary” when she cuts George’s face off.

    • I had the same reaction. By the same token, I assumed Wanda would be at the forefront of helping Barbie, but she ends up left behind.

      • Gur fgbel bs Jnaqn vf qrsvavgryl bar gung trarengrf n ybg bs pbagebirefl nf sne nf abg tbvat jurer vg vf rkcrpgrq.

  5. The bit where they’re going around the snowy mountain is reminiscent of Caradhras to me.

    As far as the whole “ripping out his tongue with her teeth” thing, I assumed it was necessary for Teh Magic to work. Because otherwise, yech.

    I will have stuff to say about the Tweeners and Wanda when I write my summary for next week, is all’s I’ll say. (And no, there is no spoiler even vaguely alluded to there. Just, I have stuff to say about them, is all.)

    • The bit where they’re going around the snowy mountain is reminiscent of Caradhras to me.

      Interesting. The point of Caradhras to me is that the mountain and snow defeated the Fellowship and thus forced them to use Moria as an alternative. Here, Barbie’s cold, hungry, and miserable but the snow doesn’t really get in her way.

  6. They walk through the forest for days

    Though it’s at most a few hours in the real world. I always thought that was a nice touch. I can remember a few dreams that seemed to last a long time “inside”, but happened between the snooze alarms.

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