While Netflix’s hit adaptation of The Sandman has been largely faithful, it may never be able to cover the origin of Dream’s raven sidekick, Matthew. It turns out the bird has an interesting past connected to one particular figure in the DC Universe.
Dream, aka Morpheus and the Lord of the Dreams, is the central protagonist in The Sandman. He lives and rules over the Dreaming, a realm visited by all life when they dream. Also in the Dreaming are a number of servants who work to keep the realm in proper order and act on the behalf of the Sandman, Dream. Along with odd and interesting characters like the brothers Cain and Abel and Merv Pumpkinhead is Matthew, a raven who serves as Dream’s messenger. However, Sandman fans know that before he came to the Dreaming, Matthew was actually once a human that became a raven after dying.
Before Matthew was ever in the service of Dream, he was Matthew Cable, a recurring figure in the pages of Swamp Thing. The secret origin of Matthew is found in Swamp Thing #84 by Rick Veitch and Tom Mandrake. After an incident in which Matthew was possessed by Swamp Thing’s villain, Anton Arcane, Matthew lies in a hospital bed in a coma with his ex-wife Abigail by his side. As Abigail contemplates how to handle her former husband’s affairs, Matthew is in the Dreaming, where he has visions of the biblical Eve and his ex-wife. After a number of upsetting sights, Matthew is eventually approached by the Lord of Dreams himself. Convinced by Dream that the best thing to do is to let go, Matthew briefly awakens from his coma to undo his life support and rid his ex-wife of the burden he’s placed on her.
Having died while connected to The Sandman’s Dreaming, Matthew became a part of Dream’s realm and was given new life as one of Morpheus’ ravens. While the past of Matthew isn’t exactly necessary to understand him as a character, it’s interesting nonetheless to know a Swamp Thing character went on to play an important part in The Sandman. However, this particular backstory might not ever be able to be told on the otherwise faithful Netflix adaptation.
Granted, the Netflix show has already hinted at Matthew’s backstory and viewers know that he was human once. But unlike the comics, which have an indisputable connection to other books, the adaptation of Sandman stands on its own. The first season scrubbed of most, if not all, the DC references from the story and anything that was left remained vague. While it wouldn’t be impossible for the Netflix show to give Matthew a backstory, it’s all but certain that it wouldn’t include Swamp Thing or his associated characters. There may be slight elements that could stay, but Sandman fans who want to know Matthew’s origin probably aren’t going to full story on Netflix.