The Wake is the tenth 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.
The Endless are each visited by a winged creature from the Necropolis, telling them the details of their brother's funeral. Once together, the Endless siblings create a statue from mud: Death brings it to life, and Delirium names it Eblis O'Shaughnessy. Eblis goes to the basement of the Necropolis and gets special things for Dream's funeral.
At the same time, Daniel-turned-New-Dream sets about bringing dead creations back to life, ones that Lyta killed as a messenger of the Kindly Ones. Abel and Mervyn come back, but Fiddler's Green chooses to stay dead. Matthew doesn't want to be New Dream's raven, and flies about for much of the story, denying the New Dream's right to be THE Dream.
New Dream can't go to the funeral, but nearly everyone else who's been in the entire Sandman series is present. The story is worded so that you, the reader, are there too. Several characters give speeches about Dream, including his brothers and sisters. Eblis, the envoy made from mud, meets New Dream, and is confused that they are having a funeral for someone who appears to still be alive. Cain explains it to him, saying that the personification of Dream can't die, but that mourning this is necessary because, as Abel finishes, there no longer exists that point of view.
Lyta Hall is even at the funeral, and after it is over, she goes to meet the New Dream, whose counterpart she hated so fiercely. She asks if he is her son when she sees him, but he claims he is no longer Daniel; he is Dream of the Endless. She becomes afraid that she will be killed, hurt, or otherwise punished for bringing about Original Dream's death; after all, Dream was never exactly humane to those who displeased him. However, this new version of Dream is gentler, and he instead gives Lyta a magical kiss to protect her from harm and sends her on her way.
Then people begin to wake up, being sent back to their original lives. We get to see the New Dream "meeting" his family for the first time, and then we, the readers, wake up.
Some "loose ends" are tied up in future stories. One about Hob at a medieval faire has him making comments about how they've got it all wrong. He has a girlfriend now named Gwen, who's working at the faire. He meets Death, thinking about his friend the Sandman, whom he's now outlasted, and Death asks if Hob wants to die now, since the man he'd made the bargain with is no longer around to bargain with. Hob chooses to keep living. Then he falls asleep and meets the dream versions of New Dream and Destruction, and realizes Dream is not dead, not really, "living happily ever after" is possible.
A recurrence of "Soft Places" occurs in "Exiles," the next story . . . another wandering-in-the-desert story, this time with Chinese emperor's advisor Master Li. He meets Dream, the old one, shortly after he killed Orpheus. He has a discussion of grief, and then he wanders more and meets the new Dream, who offers him a job as advisor. He refuses, and continues to the town where his emperor ordered him to live the rest of his life.
The last Sandman story wraps up the "other" play Shakespeare owed Dream: The Tempest. This story is about his writing of the play and his family. He then questions Dream why he wanted this play, and his reply is that he wanted a play about graceful ends; it was a play for himself.