We break down the new preview images from the upcoming TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's dark fantasy comic.

This week, Netflix finally unveiled a release date for its upcoming adaptation of The Sandman (Aug. 5) as well as a new teaser trailer and lots of new photos. We've already covered the trailer, which shows Morpheus (Tom Sturridge) escaping from his imprisonment, so let's take a closer look at the new photos and speculate about what to expect from the series.

A kingdom in ruins

The Sandman
Dream (Tom Sturridge) and Lucienne (Vivienne Acheampong) survey his ruined kingdom in Netflix's 'The Sandman.'
| Credit: Netflix

The story of The Sandman begins with the immortal being Dream, a.k.a Morpheus, getting mistakenly imprisoned by some human sorcerers in the midst of World War I. When Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg originally published the first issue of The Sandman comic back in 1989, their hero emerged from his prison into the present day.

The show also takes place in the present — our present — meaning that now Morpheus has been absent from his duties in the dream realm for even longer. Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that when he returns to his kingdom after decades away, he finds it in disarray.

"Morpheus' imprisonment is what begins the story," Gaiman previously told EW in our Summer Preview interview, which you can watch above. "It's who he becomes through that time, what he loses, and how that imprisonment and the results of it change him, that really is the big story of The Sandman that we're going to be experiencing in this season and future seasons."

Delusions of grandeur

The Sandman
Sir Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance) imprisons Dream (Tom Sturridge) and sets 'The Sandman' into motion.
| Credit: Ed Miller/Netflix

Infuriated by his son's death in World War I, the wannabe wizard Sir Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance) sets out to imprison the personification of Death so that he and other bereaved families can bring their loved ones back to life. Instead, Burgess' spell catches Death's brother, Dream — and sets the story of The Sandman into motion.

A changed castle

Tom Sturridge on 'The Sandman'
Dream (Tom Sturridge) is not happy with the state of his castle in 'The Sadnman'
| Credit: Netflix

Dream is a moody one at the best of times, so you can only imagine his anger at finding his own castle in such a fallen state.

Loyal librarian

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Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne in Netflix's 'The Sandman.'
| Credit: Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix

Dream obviously has his work cut out for him when it comes to rebuilding his kingdom. But his one advantage is the aid of the librarian Lucienne (Vivienne Acheampong), who has remained loyal and steadfast even as other inhabitants of the realm have abandoned their duties. Originally depicted as male in The Sandman comic, Lucienne is female in the show.

A new companion

The Sandman
Morpheus (Tom Sturridge) finds a new raven companion, Matthew (Patton Oswalt), in Netflix's 'The Sandman.'
| Credit: Netflix

Dream lives to be accompanied by a raven familiar — even immortal dream kings need someone to talk to, after all. One of his tasks after getting free is to find a new bird to fill the role, and this shot (the last of the trailer) appears to find him in the midst of a job interview. Readers of The Sandman comic know that this is probably the foul-mouthed Matthew, who will be voiced by Patton Oswalt.

The sound of her wings

The Sandman
Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) talks to her brother Dream (Tom Sturridge) in 'The Sandman.'
| Credit: Netflix

Here we go, baby. The Sandman #8, "The Sound of Her Wings," is one of the most famous issues from the comic since it features the first appearance of Dream's sister Death. Following his return to the world, Dream could use some frank advice from his big sibling. This shot looks like it's ripped right from the pages of that issue.

Depicting the Grim Reaper as a cheery Goth girl with an ankh tattoo was one of Gaiman's most inspired inventions in The Sandman, and the character became a bona fide pop culture icon — you can usually expect to spot a few cosplays around summer comic conventions and Halloween, and probably even more this year once Kirby Howell-Baptiste's interpretation hits the screen.

Black sheep

The Sandman
Desire (Mason Alexander Park) luxuriates in Netflix's 'The Sandman.'
| Credit: Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix

Death isn't Dream's only sibling, though she might be the most helpful. Desire (Mason Alexander Park) is much more troublesome. The character, who has been depicted as the non-binary personification of lust since the original comic, is being portrayed by a non-binary actor.

Devil in a new dress

The Sandman
Credit: Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix

The version of Lucifer played by Tom Ellis in the long-running series was originally based on The Sandman's depiction of the devil (who eventually spun off into his own solo Lucifer comic, providing the show's inspiration). Now that The Sandman is being adapted in its own right, the show is going in a different direction for the monarch of Hell. From what we've seen so far, Gwendoline Christie's golden curls perfectly match the way Lucifer was drawn by Kieth and Dringenberg in the early issues of The Sandman. Unfortunately for Dream, she has something that he needs.

The center of everything

The Sandman
Dream (Tom Sturridge) speaks with Rose Walker (Vanesu Samunyai) in 'The Sandman'
| Credit: Liam Daniel/Netflix

Having been absent from the world for decades, Dream finds a whole new generation he has to reckon with. Rose Walker (Vanesu Samunyai) may be young, but she's very important to the future of the Dreaming.

Sailors' paradise

The Sandman
Gilbert (Stephen Fry) in Netflix's 'The Sandman.'
| Credit: Netflix

Since Morpheus has been gone, several dreams and nightmares have ended up scattered across the mortal realm. The appearance of Gilbert (Stephen Fry) is based on one of Gaiman's favorite authors, G.K. Chesterton. But there's more to Gilbert than meets the eye.

Dark mirror

The Sandman
The nightmarish serial killer known as the Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook) in 'The Sandman.'
| Credit: Liam Daniel/Netflix

Morpheus originally created the nightmare known as the Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook) in order to show humanity a dark mirror of itself. But in the dream king's multi-decade absence, the Corinthian has been loose in the real world — and gone much farther than his creator wanted.

While you were sleeping

David Thewlis on 'The Sandman'
John Dee (David Thewlis) is up to no good with a magical ruby in 'The Sandman'
| Credit: Netflix

One of Morpheus' most powerful possessions, a magical ruby with powers over the human mind, ends up in the hands of a disturbed man named John Dee (David Thewlis). Dee's use of the ruby on unsuspecting humans created the single scariest issue of The Sandman comic. What will the TV show's version of this story look like?

New friend, old face

The Sandman
Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman) reunites with Morpheus (Tom Sturridge) in 'The Sandman.'
| Credit: Liam Daniel/Netflix

Lady Johanna Constantine was originally introduced in The Sandman comic as an ancestor of the DC Comics character John Constantine. But John isn't in the new show, so Johanna will be filling both roles as a face from Morpheus' past and a character in the present. Given her stint on Doctor Who, actress Jenna Coleman definitely knows a thing or two about playing different versions of a character across time and space.

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