While Sandman’s Dream of the Endless and Lucifer have been enemies for time immemorial, the two ancient beings might actually be the mirror opposites of each other. Judging by how each of their ongoing series ended, Dream of the Endless and Lucifer Morningstar actually want totally opposite things, and each get them in truly unexpected ways.
First appearing in The Sandman #4, the fallen angel Lucifer was introduced as a powerful antagonist who had little love for the lord of the Dreaming. After Dream wins a contest with another demon in Hell, Lucifer swears revenge on the Dreamlord. The King of Hell would get his wish later in the « Season of Mists » storyline, which saw Lucifer absconding his throne, leaving the key to the Gates of Hell in Dream’s hands. Lucifer would go on to star in his own self-titled series following the completion of The Sandman, running for seventy-five issues just like its forebear.
What’s interesting is that both series feature their central characters trying to accomplish near-impossible cosmic feats for opposite reasons. For Dream, the main goal throughout his series revolves around change. In the introduction to Sandman: Endless Nights, Neil Gaiman relates how he was once asked to describe The Sandman in twenty-five words or less. Gaiman replied, “The Lord of Dreams learns that one must change or die, and makes his decision.” It’s the perfect encapsulation of the character’s journey, which ends with the Dreamlord finally changing his ways, but only after he makes the ultimate sacrifice – “dying” to be reborn in an entirely new aspect. Conversely, Lucifer’s goal throughout his series (initially from Mike Carey and Chris Weston, among other artists) was to escape the control of his Father, God. As the series goes on, Lucifer seeks to create his own pocket universe not controlled by his Father – somewhere he could exist without being manipulated, judged or worshiped.
Dream Changes Himself, Lucifer Changes Reality
While Dream’s arc throughout The Sandman revolves around change, Lucifer simply wants to be who he already is. Lucifer doesn’t want to change, and in fact feels like he doesn’t have to. Going all the way back to the moment he rebelled against God, Lucifer doesn’t want to be controlled by anyone or anything. He feels imprisoned by reality, to the point where he is willing to create his own universe to escape. On the flipside, Dream comes to the realization that the world deserves a better version of himself; entirely keeping with his role as the Lord of the Dreaming. In short, Dream’s problem is himself, and Lucifer’s problem is literally everything else.
Lucifer’s Freedom vs the Sandman’s Duty
Lucifer is even offered the chance to change himself by merging with God, becoming the creator deity of his entire reality, but far from being tempted, he’s offended by the offer. Ultimately, Dream is a bastion of duty, whereas Lucifer embraces radical freedom. Given their links and ancient enmity, it’s fascinating to consider how their stories mirror each other, as both seek to change the seemingly unchangeable. It’s fitting and ironic that the two Sandman characters are so fundamentally opposed on the thematic level – after all, there are no two beings in all of existence less able to see things from one another’s perspective than Lucifer and Dream.