WARNING: The following article contains SPOILERS for The Dreaming #1.
Dream of The Endless - a being more simply known as The Sandman - has abandoned his position in DC Comics' cosmology. What this may mean in the long term is unclear, but it is inflicting unimaginable harm upon the world of dreams (a.k.a. The Dreaming) in the short term and may tie into the increasing decay of the DC Comics Universe in other titles.
The original The Sandman series was first published in 1989 and became one of the foundations of DC Comics' Vertigo line for mature readers. The series introduced the concept of The Endless - seven personifications of primal forces, more powerful than gods yet inexplicably influenced by mortal minds. One of The Endless, Dream, is the personification of imagination and the creative spirit. The Sandman series focused upon Dream following a period in which he was bound by a group of wizards for several decades and how he came to rebuild his kingdom and be reborn in a kinder persona after many trials and tribulations.
Recently, Vertigo Comics decided to revive The Sandman story in four new titles spinning out of a Sandman Universe special. The first issue of The Dreaming has confirmed what had been suggested by the final page of The Sandman Universe special - The Sandman is gone and the realm of dreams is starting to fall apart in his absence. As the issue opens, cracks are beginning to form in the foundation of The Dreaming and indistinct, mindless grey beings are spilling out of the firmament. The only inhabitants of The Dreaming currently aware of Dream's abdication are Lucien The Librarian (Dream's right-hand man and organizer of the near-infinite library at the heart of The Dreaming, which contains every story ever imagined) and Matthew The Raven, who serves as Dream's herald and messenger.
Fans of The Sandman may recall that this is not the first time that one of The Endless has abandoned their responsibilities. One of the major subplots of The Sandman's story involved Destruction, Dream's younger brother, who abdicated his position in the 17th century because he did not wish to be responsible for the destruction caused by the atomic bomb - the eventual endgame brought about by The Age of Reason and the changes wrought by industrialization. It is implied that much of the societal upheaval which occurred in our world since then was due to Destruction no longer taking an active role in trying to control the forces of change and entropy which were his responsibility.
It is possible that The Sandman abandoning his role may tie into numerous other DC Comics' storylines that involve the decay of their shared universe. Chief among these is the suggestion that some intelligence was responsible for building the current DC Comics universe and the on-going revelation of new forces (such as The Still Force and an Invisible Emotional Spectrum) that are hastening the destruction of reality. Yet even if Dream of the Endless' actions are not related to these events, they are sure to be a nightmare for all involved.
The Dreaming #1 is now available from Vertigo Comics.