A Game of You is the fifth graphic novel collecting the works of the comic The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Here I offer a rather detailed synopsis of the plot, so if you wish to be surprised when reading it, stop here. Most major and some minor plot details have been included.

This story opens with four "characters" from Barbie's dreamworld discussing their fate. Barbie is one of the people that Rose drew together in her vortex; she has since dumped Ken and gone on her own way. Barbie now likes to paint her face, and hasn't dreamed since that night in the vortex. Her friends in the dreamworld think she may be dead or hurt since she no longer visits them; they call her "the princess."

Barbie lives in a building in New York and around her live a man named George, an ancient witch who looks young named Thessaly, and a lesbian couple, Hazel and Foxglove. Barbie is friends with a neighbor, Wanda--who is actually a man, planning to have a sex change soon. Hazel is pregnant from a meaningless one-night stand, and has an old lover named Judy. George is being manipulated by "the Cuckoo," about whom Barbie's dream friends are having a discussion when the book opens. The Cuckoo is apparently a chaotic threat to the Dreaming, or at least their part of it.

Barbie and Wanda get on a subway, on the way giving change to a homeless woman who keeps chanting "I don't like dogs." Meanwhile, one of Barbie's dream friends, Martin Tenbones, uses a mystical object called the Porpentine to come to the waking world in search of her. The homeless woman sees Martin Tenbones and freaks out since he looks like a giant dog. Martin Tenbones searches for Barbie in the unfamiliar waking world but gets hit by a car and then shot by police when he tries to go to Barbie. He gives Barbie the Porpentine and tells her "you are needed."

Barbie is shaken by the surreal experience, but she knows Martin Tenbones is real, and goes to her fantasy world, where she is greeted by her friends Luz, Prinado, and Wilkinson. They give her a mission: She must travel to the Isle of Thorns and bring the Porpentine together with the Hierogram, or the Cuckoo will destroy the land.

George attempts to gather energy to destroy Barbie's Porpentine by sending nightmare birds to all her friends. They all have horrid nightmares, except Thessaly, who is able to break the spell and figure out who's responsible. She goes up to George's apartment and kills him. Then she invites the neighbors over, cuts George's face off and nails it to the wall, and casts a spell so it will talk and reveal its secrets. Thessaly decides to teach the Cuckoo a lesson once she learns of its plans by talking to George's dead face, and gets the others to help her "draw down the moon," which is necessary to get into Barbie's dream. (Thessaly claims the Dream King won't let them in, so they'll have to do it themselves.) They summon the Maiden/Mother/Crone, as representations of these aspects themselves. Wanda can't go because in her genes she is a man, and the moon can't see her as a woman. She watches over Barbie as she sleeps, and stays with the nailed-up face. The moon is drawn down and messes with the weather.

Barbie, meanwhile, endures her companions getting killed one by one, and she is taken prisoner. The Cuckoo's citadel turns out to be her own house from when she was a child. Strangely, Barbie then discovers that the Cuckoo is a childhood version of herself who was imprisoned in her head. She wishes to fly free, and seeks to destroy the land. They do so by smashing the Porpentine against the Hierogram, causing the land to begin to die and Dream to appear. Dream reveals that this fantasyland was created for a former lover, Alianora, and she still lives there. He takes all the dreamers into his clock, and the world dies.

Dream then owes Barbie a favor, but though Thessaly wants her to kill the Cuckoo with her wish, she chooses to return herself and her friends to the waking world, freeing the Cuckoo.

Back in real life, a hurricane caused by the moon's descent is raging, and Wanda helps out a shelterless person--the "I don't like dogs" homeless lady. They become friends, but are killed when the building collapses; the homeless woman's body protects Barbie from the wreckage.

At Wanda's funeral, later, Barbie has to listen to Wanda's family talk about how she died because of her sins against God. Wanda is dressed and buried as a man, with her birth name, Alvin, on the gravestone. Barbie crosses that name out after everyone is gone and uses lipstick to write "Wanda." She puts comic books on the grave and bids her friend goodbye.

See the next Sandman book: Fables and Reflections

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