Annotations to The Sandman: Endless Nights Special
"The Heart of a Star"

by Matthew Peckham

Click here to enlarge.

"Sleep until life wakes you."
- Sol, The Sandman: Endless Nights Special

(The image above is ) copyright 2003 DC Comics. The text contained herein, unless otherwise specified, is ) copyright 2004Matthew Peckham.)

(Note: As the preview edition does not contain page numbers, the page numbers referred to in these annotations begin on the first page of the story. Update (9/25/03): I've added the corresponding page numbers for the story in the hardcover in brackets)

(Any errors contain herein are solely the fault of the webmaster; comments, additions, or corrections are welcome and encouraged by emailing me. Contributions are noted in blue.)

(You can discuss these annotations on the Official Vertigo Message Boards.)

(Last updated: Monday, April 5, 2004.)


The image on the cover is of a mask, perhaps an aged and cracking ceramic or Harlequin variant, floating in black space beneath the clouds. (In this case, turned upward toward the clouds, which evokes the symbology of projection in which cloud shapes become a palette for the unconscious.) Masks are also delimiters, ways of hiding or reconfiguring aspects of the self whether masks as layers of individuality or masks as layers between individuals. Though unaccredited here, the artwork appears to be frequent Gaiman collaborator, artist and writer Dave McKean. It is not clear whether the symbology interlaced with the words "Sandman" and "Endless" is merely decorative or elaboration on some deeper theme. The appearance of the crescent moon is in keeping with the theme of night and sleep and dreaming. The symbol on the left cheek of the mask is a growth spiral. A growth spiral, as opposed to a core spiral, begins at some central point and works its way outward. In this case, the central point forms two paths, one moving outward to touch the left eye, the other approaching the mouth, perhaps intended to evoke sight and sound. Note its stylistic similarity to the hardcover's promo faces/masks appearing on the back cover. The left half of the back cover's face is most likely Morpheus's.

PAGE 1 [59]

Panel 1

The two entities engaged in dialogue are the sun (Sol, represented by the yellow-shaded dialogue box) and the Earth (not named, but represented by the blue-shaded dialogue box). The spiral galaxy in this panel is the Milky Way, which contains roughly 200 billion stars, is 80,000 to 120,000 light years across, and about 7,000 light years thick. Our narrative view is zoomed on the section of the Milky Way known as the Orion Arm, roughly 26,000 light years from the center of the galaxy. The sun can be seen projecting from the upper-left-hand corner of the panel, while the much smaller planet Earth floats in the lower-right-hand corner. The sun (father) is addressing the Earth (daughter).

In Neil Gaiman's rendition of this aspect of the DC universe's origins, there is a conscious and perhaps mystical relationship between celestial forces and objects, thus the personification of planets and stars which is an archetypal nod to ancient pagan mythology and pre-historical animistic traditions. The phrase "a long time ago...and far, far away" is perhaps a tongue-in-cheek nod to George Lucas's Star Wars series, though Lucas was of course merely mimicking a much older folk tradition best recognized in the quintessential opening line to the common fable: "once upon a time..."

Panel 2

The name Killalla is Irish and appears throughout Irish history, primarily as the name for several geographical locations, such as Killalla Bay or the town of Killalla, Ireland.

The "glow" refers to Killalla's race or species, which is apparently able to tap into some form of raw energy (force) manifested by her will during times of emotional excitement. The green flames surrounding Killalla are ancestrally related to the green energy invoked in and associated with the superhero comic Green Lantern. According to the Green Lantern mythos, the Oan race began some 10 billion years ago on the planet Maltus. A group of Maltusians with superior intellect and mental powers emigrated to Oa, a planet in the center of the known universe, around 3.5 billion years ago. Note that in DC continuity the Oans have blue skin just like Killalla, cementing her ancestral relationship to the race that will eventually refer to itself as "The Guardians of the Universe."

Panel 3

This nascent ability to control the green flame illustrates the progressive phase of the early race of Oans from wild manifestations of this elemental power to eventual controlled manipulation.

PAGE 2 [60]

Panel 1

This is Dream of the Endless, also known as Morpheus, named after the Greek god of dreams. His responsibility is the management of the realm of sleep and dreams, also known as The Dreaming. He first appeared in Gaiman's The Sandman Vol. 2 #1. Here as in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series, Morpheus's dialogue balloons are white text on black in contrast to the more typical black text on white. Since we know the Endless can die and be reborn, this also suggests that the Morpheus of this story is the same incarnation that appears in the first nine collections of Gaiman's original series, thereby revealing that Morpheus seems to have existed in this incarnation since the beginning of time and that his death in "The Kindly Ones" story arc was his first cycling through death and rebirth.

Panel 3

Killalla's reference to Morpheus as "darling" implies an intimate romantic relationship. Whether this is Morpheus's first such relationship with a humanoid life form is unspecified, though the temporal proximity of the tale to the beginning of time coupled with Morpheus's uncharacteristic enthusiasm for the relationship, implies that it is indeed his first trip around the block, which is thus significant (based on what happens later in the tale) in establishing the gestalt for Morpheus's conflicted future romances. (Morpheus has, it seems in all the history of creation through to his death, had an ongoing series of destructive relationships.)

Panel 4

The family to which Killalla refers are the Endless, who have existed since the beginning of time and will exist at its ending. The Endless are indeed "endless." Not gods, and beyond the bounds of station or rank. They simply exist, as the universe exists, as manifestations (not representations) of the entire system, reflections of the universe's intrinsic characteristics, rules, and organizational layers.

Behind Morpheus and Killalla are a bed and a table with chairs. The table is set with food in dishes. It can be assumed that Morpheus has created this "spaceship" in the form of a bubble to transport Killalla to the palace. Since we know from The Sandman stories that Morpheus has the power (at least in human history) to transport living creatures rapidly between locations, the use of a bubble to carry Killalla implies that Morpheus is either (a) not powerful or sophisticated enough at this point to transport her instantly, or (b) there are stylistic motivations, perhaps related to a desire to impress Killalla with the panoramic view of the palace viewed from the bubble on approach.

PAGE 3 [61]

Panel 2

The book to which Sol is referring is probably the Book of Oa. The earliest version of the Book of Oa appeared in Green Lantern Vol. 2 #188, in a story written by Alan Moore. Though Moore refers to it as The Book of Worthy Names, it can be seen as a precursor to the later Book of Oa.

Note in the picture the small dot just below the second narrative box. This is the bubble/spaceship as shown up close on the previous page in Panel 5.

PAGE 4 [62]

Panel 1

The blue woman is a star named Mizar. Mizar, also known as Zeta Ursae Majoris, is one of the notable stars in the sky. 78 light years away from Earth, Mizar is the Zeta star of the Ursa Major constellation, also known as the "great bear." Mizar's Arabic name derives from the word meaning "the groin" of the "great bear," but is equally famous for being the first known "double star," i.e. one of a pair of stars that orbit each other.

Brian O'Sullivan adds:

Apparently it's a double star, or a quadruple star, or four-fifths of a quintuple, depending on how you look at it. I guess this makes her a naturally social star and parliamentarian.

Neal Miller adds:

For those not familiar with the "Ursa Major" constellation, layman stargazers will recognize the tail of the Great Bear as the "Big Dipper." Mizar is the second star as counted from the end of the dipper's handle.

A "parliament" is a formal conference for the discussion of public affairs, usually comprised of the nobility, clergy, and commons in human history. Here, it signifies a meeting between several different classes of beings in the hierarchy of the universe, thus entire dimensions, solar systems, stars, etc. and in some cases (like Killalla) inhabitants of the planets in those systems are in attendance.

As in the narrative text boxes on Page 1, the dialogue boxes here and throughout are coded to represent the party speaking according to color, thus Mizar's dialogue balloons are blue, Sol's are yellow, and so on.

Panel 2

Notice that Mizar, who appears to be female, kisses the hand of Killalla, also female, which contravenes the courtly tradition of greeting and respect as practiced in certain periods of human history where only males kissed the hands of females. This implies that sexual customs, if the phrase even applies here, may already be somewhat ambiguous and have an ancestral relationship to other forms of life (as offspring of the stars and planets) and their relationships in the DC universe.

Panel 3

The "family" of the Endless at this point in the history of the universe includes (in no particular order) Destiny, Desire, Destruction, Delight, Dream, Death, and Despair. No one appears to have perished in their "first" incarnation yet, and Delight has not yet become Delirium. Gaiman's use of the word "family" relative to the Endless has always been in the most general sense, i.e. "a group of persons of common ancestry." Though it has never been discussed or defined, the either direct or indirect parent or creator of the Endless is presumably a singular creator, most often referred to in the DC universe in the Judeo-Christian tradition, though Gaiman and several of his peers have in the last decade interwoven the mythologies of several cultures into the canon. Thus the creator of the universe is mythologically unbound, or in another sense, simultaneously bound to all world mythologies as a kind of ultimate demiurgic mythological pluralist.

Joe Navratil writes:

I've always had the impression that the Endless are considered greater than any definition of God, even the Judeo-Christian one. For example, Morpheus defers to the Judeo-Christian God in the "Season of Mists" arc when he hands off the key to Hell (presumably, given that the key was in possession of Lucifer, this is the Judeo-Christian Hell, a creation of the JC-God) to Remiel and Duma, not because JC-God is his superior, but simply because he respected the wishes of the Creator of that realm. Additionally, there's the whole conundrum around the fact that gods (in the generic sense) have been known to enter Death's realm from time to time. Besides, Gaiman's always been careful to point out that the Endless themselves are not "Gods" or "Kings" of their realm, but are in fact an anthropomorphization of the concept they embody. The implication has always seemed to me to be that they were "more than mere gods". (Of course, I never quite understood how the position of "anthropomorphization of the concept of Destruction" could be abdicated; or how trapping the concept of Dream in a large fishbowl would lead to the realm of Dream -- presumably exactly what was trapped, in a way -- deteriorating over time.)

Panel 4

Destiny was the first of the Endless to appear in the history of creation. According to the Unofficial DC Who's Who Project, he first appeared in Weird Mystery Tales #1 in July-August 1972. His first appearance in Gaiman's The Sandman series was issue 28 in the prologue to the "Season of Mists" story arc. Destiny was absorbed into Gaiman's mythos when Gaiman created the six other members of the Endless.

Desire came into existence after the initial four: Destiny, Death, Dream, and Destruction. For Desire to be Dream's "favorite sibling [. . .] so funny and so kind" is at first bizarre based on what we know of their almost caustic relationship throughout The Sandman series.

Panel 5

"Mimic-flowers" are probably some form of imitative flower, or something that imitates the form of a flower, created like the rest of the palace by Mizar for aesthetic purposes.

PAGE 5 [63]

Panel 2

The sincerity with which Dream greets Desire is completely different from his relationship with him/her in The Sandman series, which was notably cold and prone to eruptions of anger on Dream's part. The rift that is coming appears to have its seeds in Dream's rejection by Killalla. Desire's role, in her own words from Sandman #21, is "to make things want things," including in scope, apparently, her own siblings. Dream believes that Desire has somehow assisted in the establishment of the relationship between Dream and Killalla, presumably by introducing desire as an emotion into Dream's catalog of emotions.

Panel 3

With Dream's confirmation of the existence of the planet Oa, we can safely assume the events in this story occur no earlier than circa 3.5 Billion B.C.E. in the DC universe.

Dream refers to Desire as "sister-brother" because Desire is androgynous.

Panel 4

Rao, seen here as the flaming reddish figure, is the name for the Kryptonian sun, the system which Kal-El, or Superman is from. In the mythology of ancient Krypton, Rao was the sun-god, chief of all other celestial bodies.

Desire's comments and general sentiment, to which Dream seems oblivious, reveal her cynical inclinations toward relationships, perhaps owing to her central role in their formation and ability (implied perhaps) to see them for what they are and not for what her abilities make them seem to others.

Panel 5

Killalla's words "the intersection of force and will" are a simple but effective proto-definition for the green energy wielded by Green Lantern in the service of the Guardians of the Universe. Her comments further imply that light may be one of many ways in which "force" and "will" can be wielded; in this case, the chosen or preferred form. Killalla also shows us that the first Oans' intentions were to improve the universe.

Panel 6

More details on the history of the proto-Guardians emerge. Killalla is one of the first five (priest-artist-police-entities) exploring the glow "with [their] will and hearts" to investigate the universe and to "harness the power of the glow perfectly."

PAGE 6 [64]

Panel 1

Killalla's bringing of the glow into her dreams was the catalyst that drew the attention of Dream. Desire's response implies that this series of events was inevitable as opposed to something for which she deserves proactive credit.

Panel 2

Desire's response indicates that Dream misunderstands Desire's nature, and mistakenly thinks that, out of some special attention paid to him or otherwise, Desire somehow arranged his meeting with Killalla. Desire responded (in keeping with her role) to Dream's loneliness, not because of their extraordinary relationship, but merely because he was lonely.

Panel 3

Desire's assertion that Dream's assignment of intentionality is misplaced clinches the argument that Desire's relationship to her siblings seems to be as agnostic as her relationship to all living beings. Desire is only capable of "making things want things."

Panel 7

Mizar's power is such that she can afford to indulge in excessive displays of elaboration, like the palace. Dream's description of the parliament suggests by "merits of obligation" that in this great carving up of the cosmos, the stars and other celestial entities need to be "convinced" of the merits of signing onto and maintaining an obligation to their respective "zones of responsibility." What these merits might be, or whether there are rewards, is not explained.

PAGE 7 [65]

Panel 1

Here we learn that Mizar invited and was able to lure the Endless to her parliament by pursuing them for "several hundred thousand pulses." It's impossible to say for certain what Gaiman means, since the average length of the pulse rate of the average pulsar (if indeed this is what Mizar is referring to) is between 1/1000 seconds to about 10 seconds, which rounding up for "several hundred thousand" to roughly 500,000 pulses would only equal about 10 years time.

The fountain with its fantastical streams and waterfalls flowing in unlikely configurations from landing to landing defies modern physics and suggests either that Mizar and the attendees of this parliament either have ornate or flamboyantly abnormal (by human standards) tastes, or that the laws of physics as laid down in modern DC canon are different at this point in history or location in the universe.

Panel 2

This is the young Sol, father star of the terran solar system which will eventually produce planet Earth.

PAGE 8 [66]

Panel 1

This is Death, who first appeared in The Sandman Vol. 2 #8, the story entitled "The Sounds of Her Wings." At this early stage she is not yet sporting her trademark eye makeup, though she wears the Ankh, an ancient Egyptian emblem of life, around her neck here in the original series. Her expression is uncharacteristically dispassionate compared to her generally "hip" and cheery demeanor in her contemporary manifestation.

Kai Koehler suggests:

One might in fact wonder whether this is a different, earlier incarnation of Death. Also the attitude of the other people towards her is quite the opposite of what is constantly seen in the Sandman series; that everyone who sees Death falls in love with her, e.g. Sandman #56, "Worlds' End," page 18, or throughout Death: The High Cost of Living. Still, Sandman #20, page 20, panel 6 (Death shall be the last one to die) as well as Sandman #70, "The Wake," page 9, panel 1 (only 6 garments in the Necropolis) seem to indicate that Death can't die.

Dan Fish adds:

I think Death is the same person, though maybe she is not adjusted to her role by this point - Her social standing in culture and existence has not yet been fully established.  Perhaps her humanity only develops after prolonged contact with that species, or after she has begun periodically spending time as a mortal, as seen in her own miniseries.

Matt Rexer clarifies:

Her appearence in "The Heart of a Star" is not at all a surprise to anyone who picked up the "Vertigo: Winter's Edge 2" anthology published at the end of 1998. In it, Gaiman wrote a small story called "Death: A Winter's Tale." Essentially, it describes the changes in attitude Death goes through in her early existence. When life starts to fear and revile death, it begins to bother her a lot: "there was a time when I got kind of hard and cold and brittle inside." When a dying girl asks her "How would you like it?" Death decides to live and die once a century to find out...which helps lead her into her modern, cheery attitude.

Panels 3-4

In keeping with his theme of showing us different versions of the Endless, Death's tone is flat, intimidating, and almost smug when taken in conjunction with artist Miguelanxo Prado's rendition of what is almost a smirk in panel 4. "One by one, you will all come to me," seems almost sadistic compared to Death's practical yet "gentler" contemporary standards.

PAGE 9 [67]

Panel 3

This is Delight of the Endless, the youngest sibling, who first appeared in The Sandman #21 as Delirium. We were told in that issue that "Delirium was once Delight." Her dialogue balloons as Delirium are filled with chaotic colors. Here, the balloons are somewhat more organized with softer pastels in rainbow colors. As Delight, her thoughts are supposed to be more exuberant (though still a bit random) than when she's Delirium and has a difficult job simply maintaining coherent thought and speech.

Panels 4-5

Delight doesn't understand what Killalla's significance is in a meeting where the forms of the attendees are subtle manifestations of cosmic forces. This is also a nod to the classic structuralist theory of signs notably addressed by the students of Swiss theorist Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) whose theories on language and the relationship of the signifier to that which it signifies, e.g. the concept related to the sound/image, contributed significantly to the structuralist movement in literary theory.

Panels 6-7

Delight's chagrin is due to her realization that Killalla is Dream's lover.

Matthew Walsh writes:

On page 9, panel 6, Delight's eyes are clearly green. On page 10, panel 4, they are just as clearly blue. Delirium is depicted with one eye of each colour, unless she makes an effort to pull herself together (cf. Brief Lives); I imagine, then, that the changing colours here are deliberate and significant.

PAGE 10 [68]

Panel 4

Perhaps a hint of her mental state to come as Delirium, Delight is obviously unconcerned with order, rules, or logic.

PAGE 11 [69]

Panel 4

Mizar seems about to say "lover's brother" but catches herself and says "Dream's brother" instead. Killalla's ambiguous feelings toward Dream, to which he seems oblivious, are apparently obvious to others.

Destruction first appeared in Sandman Special #1 in November 1991. When the series began, Destruction had already abandoned his post. The entire "Brief Lives" story arc involves Delirium and Dream's search for their missing brother, who has foregone his role as Destruction and gone off to explore (or simply experience) the universe. Mizar explain his role here as "the process that fuels all the stars [. . .] without him, all would be lifeless and dark." It is a point of irony central to post-structuralist theories that every act of deconstruction is simultaneously an act of construction. Similarly, every act of destruction is also an act of construction, thus Destruction's name compared to his function is equally ironic.

Kai Koehler writes:

Destruction's statement is a bit odd, considering that we never heard about any other relation of any other Endless except Dream with any other being, be it mortal or not. Thus why do the other Endless think that Dream would need a relationship, but apparently none of them?

Panel 5

Destruction seems to have knowledge of what it is Desire has done to Dream.

Panel 6

Destruction references the title of this tale, "The Heart of a Star," when he says "but even the hearts of stars..." He juxtaposes what he claims is his domain and some other aspect of stars, presumably the anthropomorphized sentient aspect, to which Desire would undoubtedly have access.

PAGE 12 [70]

Panel 3

This is Destiny, who as noted above, first appeared prior to Gaiman's treatment in Weird Mystery Tales #1 in July-August 1972. He is the eldest of the Endless, and it is in his book that all events past, present, and future are recorded.

Panels 5-6

Killalla's statement is ironic. Destiny is literally, but not figuratively, blind. Killalla is, as a mortal and unsure of herself and her relationship with Dream, not literally, but figuratively, blind.

PAGE 13 [71]

Panels 3-7

Killalla's ambiguous feelings toward Dream are revealed. Destiny explains a future point where the Endless will be forbidden to love mortals, presumably a point which takes place after the end of the main series since when those events take place, Dream may still be involved in a love relationship with a mortal woman.

Matthew Walsh suggests that perhaps this rule is already in play during the main series, citing Sandman #9 where on Page 26, Panel 4 of The Doll's House trade collection, Nada tells Dream that she fled him "because it is not given to mortals to love the Endless." The question remains whether Calliope, Thessaly, or Nada could be characterized as "mortal," and whether to interpret Dream's flawed relationships with each of them as the consequence of his tragic flaws, or the violation of an "external" rule or code.

PAGE 14 [72]

Panel 1

The discussion between the person on the left, and the elemental entity on the right suggests several things. First, this is a reference to the realm of Faerie, which is famously highlighted in The Sandman #19, Gaiman's World Fantasy Award winning short tale "A Midsummer's Night Dream" in which the denizens of Faerie (including its king and queen) come to the realm of Earth to view William Shakespeare's play of the same name, which is of course ironically about them. Faerie also appears in Gaiman's Books of Magic, an exploration of the history of magic in the DC universe, specifically the third tale in which Timothy Hunter travels with Dr. Occult to the realm of Faerie as part of his tour of significant magical locations and times.

Here, we learn that Faerie isn't a dimension "so much as an aspiration." Faerie is intended to be the hope of something greater than itself, instead of a scientific extrapolation from elemental principles. (This argument is bolstered by the statement "it will need a certain quality of light one simply cannot get from your people," where "your people" refers to the elemental aspects of creation.) Note that the line "quality of light" is an apparent reference to Gaiman and Vess's Stardust, soon after Tristran has entered Faerie:

They walked side by side, in the golden-green light of the sun through the newly opened leaves. It was a quality of light, Tristran had observed, unique to springtime. (Stardust, 73)

Matthew Walsh adds:

Page 14, panel 1: the figure describing Faerie (the figure who *is* Faerie?) bears a resemblance to Old Glory, the keeper of the marketplace in Books of Magic #3.

Panel 2

Sol is referring to our nascent solar system. Here is revealed a crucial link to and justification for the anthropomorphic structure of these "first" creatures/beings represented in the parliament. Sol's admiration for Killalla intimates that humanity owes some or all of its forms and aesthetic systems to Sol's appreciation of Killalla's beauty. This has ironic counterpoints, since of course an artist's rendition of these "first" or "early" beings is based on an unavoidably anthropomorphic conception of art.

Panel 3

The greenish figure is Sto-Oa, the star in whose care is the system containing the planet Oa. His background will be discussed in full on the next page.

Panel 4

As Killalla is from the planet Oa, Sto-Oa's reference to her as "one of [his] favorite people," combined with Killalla's sense that she has "known [him] all [her] life" establishes their intimate elemental relationship.

PAGE 15 [73]

Panels 3-4

Returning to the theme of symbols and signs, Sto-Oa attempts to relay the magnitude of what the Endless are to Killalla. He explains that the Endless are not representations of forces, like their sigils, but rather are the forces themselves, which creates something of a paradox for the reader to whom the concept is conveyed as an idea rather than a literality. Obviously the words and pictures in the comic itself are symbols of a kind, thus the familiar but always interesting conundrum of conveying concepts broader than the symbols themselves through the limitations of the symbolic system.

Panels 5-7

Here Sto-Oa formally reveals himself as "the light of Oa" or the star that gives its light to that planet.

PAGE 16 [74]

Panel 1

Reeling from the emotional impact of Sto-Oa's words, Killalla's state of profound emotional agitation transports her from one side of the palace to the other (thus the green tracer) in an attempt to consciously or subconsciously escape the magnitude and implications of Sto-Oa's revelation.

Panel 4

Though in anthropomorphic form, Sto-Oa explains to Killalla that he is a star, not a representative for or of one.

PAGE 17 [75]

Panels 2-3

The introduction of a romantic relationship between the parent star of a system, and one of that system's offspring presents an intriguing perspective on the relationship of creative forces to their creations. It also invokes a variety of classical myths, notably Greek and Roman, in which the gods engaged in physical and emotional relationships with different forms of life.

Panels 6-7

The Endless are obviously forces held higher than (or perhaps even outside the hierarchy of) the stars, as even one of the elder stars (Sto-Oa) is intimidated by the Endless.

PAGE 18 [76]

Panels 1-2

The obese woman sitting to the left of Rao in the first panel is Despair of the Endless, presumably in her first incarnation since her second incarnation in The Sandman series was radically different in appearance. This version of Despair, naked, painted in whorls, appears relatively healthy. The later version had pasty white skin, was a haven for rodents, and periodically engaged in self-mutilation. Her first appearance was in The Sandman Vol. 2 #10.

What Despair is describing is what eventually happens to the planet Krypton, which leads to the escape of the baby Kal-El in a rocket. Kal-El of course comes to Earth and becomes Superman. This implies that Despair is indirectly responsible for the origin of Superman, in which a young child is placed in a rocket by his parents and sent into space to escape the destruction of the planet. Of course Superman as portrayed by most writers in the history of DC comics has rarely fit the mold of a "despairing" figure though it is arguable that he is a pathological repressor.

Brian O'Sullivan adds:

Superman represents hope, which arguably can only be manifest as the negation of despair. I think it's poetic to imagine that Superman resulted from Despair's failed "work of art." The failure sort of fulfulls her function.

Pursant to Brian's comments, reference The Sandman: Brief Lives, chapter 8, page 16, where Destruction is describing the functions of the Endless to Dream and Delirium, specifically panel 5 where he says:

Our sister defines life, just as Despair defines hope, or Desire defines hatred, or Destiny defines freedom.

Panels 4-6

Desire seems already here to take some joy in torturing her brother Dream. The declaration "then we are not friends, you and I" is apparently the pivotal termination of Dream's respect for Desire, and this event is the source rift for Dream's subsequent conflicts with Desire over flawed future love relationships. It also highlights Dream's most significant flaw: his lack of a sense of humor. Dream is the quintessential stoic whose inability to take any aspect of his existence other than seriously often makes him the victim of lesser-minded cynics.

PAGE 19 [77]

Panels 3-5

These panels touch on the relationship of the stars to their planets, as well as giving us some additional background on our own solar system and its formation in the DC mythos. The Endless apparently do not visit the systems until life has appeared. We can deduce from the Earth's words on the next page that the Endless come to each planet "properly" (or according to some formal system) when life appears "walking and dancing and dreaming."

Dan Fish clarifies:

Each member of the endless appears when the inhabitants become capable of the respective personification. When life appeared, it was capable of death, and so Death arrives. It may be a length of time before a living thing is capable of dreaming, or desiring, so those aspects arrive later in the evolution.

PAGE 20 [78]

Panels 1-2

The figures in the first panel (or to the left if you view this as one) are Sto-Oa and Killalla, presumably representing her post-death translated (transformed) state into inhabitant of the heart of the star.

Thanks to: Joe Navratil, Brian O'Sullivan, Matthew Walsh, Kai Koehler, Dan Fish, Neal Miller, and Matt Rexer.