All The Weird DC Comics Stuff Hiding In 'The Sandman'
The Sandman is set in a world of wonder and imagination and ... muscular guys in colorful spandex punching each other for 20 pages a month? Watching the Netflix adaptation, it's easy to forget that the comic was originally set smack dab in the middle of the DC Universe, which is why Dream has joined forces with the Justice League more than once. In fact, there are so many DC Comics connections in this story that the show's writers couldn't scrub all of them, despite their best efforts.
For instance, David Thewlis' character, John Dee, was a typical Justice League villain called Doctor Destiny before and after his nightmare-inducing Sandman appearances. In his first comic appearance he was presented as a mad scientist who used an anti-gravity device to pester the League, but he later focused his supervillain brand on dream-based crimes and started dressing like a Skeletor knock-off (even though he predates Skeletor by decades).
Some viewers are saying the actress who plays Lyta Hall (Razane Jammal) should play Wonder Woman in, at the very least, some TV movie where the producers can't afford Gal Gadot. Intentionally or not, the resemblance between the actresses is pretty appropriate since, in the comics, "Lyta" is short for "Hippolyta" and she was originally written as Wonder Woman's daughter with himbo pilot Steve Trevor (hopefully not conceived while he was possessing some random dude like in that creeptastic Wonder Woman 1984 movie).
And because superheroes like to inter-marry like aristocrat families, Lyta's dead husband Hector Hall is the son of the 1940s Hawkman and later became the 2000s Doctor Fate; in superhero comics, being dead is never an obstacle for career advancement. Who or what is a Doctor Fate, you ask? You'll find out when both he and Hawkman appear alongside Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in this year's Black Adam movie.
Matt the Raven, voiced by Cracked's friend Patton Oswalt, probably has the weirdest DC backstory of all: when he was human, his name was Matthew Cable and he was a supporting character in the long-running Swamp Thing series (and was played by someone who looks/sounds nothing like Oswalt in the recent live action adaptation). Matt started as a regular government agent but later went insane, gained the ability to alter reality, was possessed by his wife's perverted dead uncle, and eventually killed himself to spare her any further horrors. So really, turning into the raven companion for the personification of the concept of dreaming isn't even the weirdest thing that's happened to this guy.
Meanwhile, little Jed Walker was the sidekick of the 1970s incarnation of The Sandman, a superhero who protects children from nightmare monsters and once teamed up with Santa Claus. Because DC writers are allergic to keeping things simple, Jed was an alternate-reality version of a post-apocalyptic DC hero called Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth. Jed's aunt and abusive uncle are also originally from the '70s Sandman series, which gets a shout out through the corny costume Jed wears in his dreams.
Several Sandman characters started out as hosts for DC's various horror anthology comics of the '60s and '70s: Cain and Abel hosted House of Mystery and House of Secrets, the Three Witches hosted The Witching Hour, Lucien(ne) hosted Tales of Ghost Castle (the titular castle was retroactively revealed to be Dream's), and Dream's so far unseen oldest bro Destiny hosted Weird Mystery Tales. Basically, Sandman writer Neil Gaiman populated his comic with as many off-brand versions of the Crypt-Keeper from Tales from the Crypt as he could get away with.
And finally, Johanna Constantine is obviously based on John Constantine, a Swamp Thing supporting character who hit it off big (and who did have an ancestor named Johanna in the comics). This isn't even the most dramatic change in Constantine's appearance ever, considering he went from looking like Sting to looking like Keanu Reeves.
If the next seasons of the show follow the comics, there probably won't be a whole lot of DC references from now on, but who knows -- maybe they'll give Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson or Ezra Miller a cameo somewhere in there in the name of corporate synergy.
Top image: Netflix, DC Comics