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A Return To Nightmare Country With Tynion & Estherren

Nightmare Country The Glass House #1
James Tynion IV
Lisandro Estherren
Patricio Delpeche

In which the King of Pain seeks to add to his kingdom by means of destruction.

James Tynion IV and Lisandro Estherren return to the Sandman Universe to pick up in the aftermath of the impeccably dressed Corinthian’s wanderings since the conclusion of the first Nightmare Country limited series. You may recall the opening installment told the story of New York artist Madison Flynn who no longer dreams. Instead when she is awake she sees the “Smiling Man”, someone who, like Corinthian, possesses mouths for eyes. Alas, matters do not end well at all for Madison.

In The Glass House the Corinthian is once again roaming the waking world in pursuit of the Smiling Man. The trail will take him to Silicon Valley and the venture capitalists of Prophet Capital some of whom have membership in a very questionable nightclub whose presence is a direct channel to unseemly delights in service to a hellish lord. Enter Max Lee, an empathetic but thirsty junior exec who wants to be set for life and is willing to take a risk when he meets Prophet’s CEO.

Max lets greed win over whatever conscience he has and accepts the as yet unrevealed offer.

Devoted readers will be surprised and excited to discover which of the characters Tynion has plumbed the depths of Sandman lore to revisit. Taking the theme of a dream from his initial appearance decades ago and turning him into a metaphor of a late stage capitalist as elements in our society attempt to propel us into accelerationist collapse is brilliant and frighteningly on topic. Plucking a character from obscurity and giving them new life and purpose is something few writers attempt. This is Tynion though and Tynion has proven how willing he is to peel back the psyches of his characters and torture them. Undoubtedly these characters will meet a similar fate and by series end Tynion will have unraveled their souls to reveal uncomfortable truths if not about ourselves then those who want power over us.

The art of Lisandro Estherren and Patricio Delpeche quite perfectly visualizes Tynion’s unsettling script. Estherren populates the page with figures that are angular yet curved; at times slightly distorted, facial expressions convey a sense of gleeful malice straining to be released. The artist relies on a variety of of kilter perspectives and different viewpoints to ground characters in every scene while the techniques simultaneously heighten a sense of distorted space as the eye tries to reorient the reader moving from panel to panel. A cool color palette of blues, greens, purples, and an occasional earth tone typically impart a sense of calm. Not so with Delpeche in whose keenly refined sense these hues coupled with a textural watercolor technique take on a menacing feel.

Sandman fans new and old alike will appreciate The Glass House as well as fans of pyschological thrillers and horror. Based on this issue the story appears to be structured to be read independently of the first mini series though a trade collection is available and should be easy to find or order a copy from your comic shop or local bookstore.

Nightmare Country The Glass House #1 is in comic shops and on Comixolgy this week.

April 11, 2023
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