Netflix's 'The Sandman' Universe Officially Launches with the Trailer for 'Dead Boy Detectives'

Edwin Payne and Jayden Revri in "Dead Boy Detectives"

Edwin Payne and Jayden Revri in "Dead Boy Detectives"

(Photo: Netflix)

It's official: Netflix's The Sandman universe lives and moody Gen-Xers and English majors everywhere have never been happier. (I'm mostly referring to myself here but I very much doubt I'm alone in this. Just saying)

The streamer has released the trailer for Dead Boy Detectives, the eight-part supernatural mystery series reacquired from Max, now with its original Sandman connective tissue reattached. And the onscreen world of Neil Gaiman's genre-hopping masterpiece has never felt so expansive. 

The spin-off follows the story of Edwin Payne and Charles Rowland, a pair of ghosts born decades apart but who have found one another and become best friends in death. Choosing to forgo the afterlife in the name of further adventures together, they launch the Dead Boy Detective Agency, where they investigate all sorts of supernatural crimes (and occasionally do some good along the way).

The characters originally appeared in "Season of Mists," the fourth volume of Gaiman's Sandman, and Netflix has wasted absolutely no time in drawing firm connections between the two series, even going so far as to include a shot of Kirby Howell-Baptiste's Death in the trailer. 

And as the kids say, the vibes are immaculate. Dark, atmospheric, and set to a My Chemical Romance track, the clip absolutely nails the quirky warmth and weirdly hopeful tone that permeates so much of a story that also includes vampires, witches, and the near-constant threat of Death (both as a concept and an anthropomorphized being). 

 Kirby Howell Baptiste in "Dead Boy Detectives"

 Kirby Howell Baptiste in "Dead Boy Detectives"

(Photo: Netflix)

Dead Boy Detectives was originally greenlit as part of Max's DC Comics TV universe, but since James Gunn is busy rebooting that franchise for the third time, the series was left without a streaming home. Enter, Netflix, who seems to have quite rightly realized the positively enormous scope and potential of this particular franchise. Gaiman's Sandman is, after all, largely an anthology loosely held together via various appearances from the immortal beings known as the Endless and the many supporting characters which appear in its pages are all ripe for spin-offs of their own. (Hob Gadling and/or Johanna Constantine series when?

Plus, with Season 2 of the flagship Sandman series potentially arriving later this year Dead Boy Detectives is perfectly positioned to serve as a bridge to those new episodes, in addition to introducing a pair of fan-favorite characters whose origin story is slated to appear in this upcoming season. (Unconfirmed reports have The Sandman Season 2 clocking in at 12 episodes --- likely split into two volumes --- and adapting stories ranging from "The Song of Orpheus" and "Brief Lives" to, yes, "Season of Mists". 

George Rexstrew, Jayden Revri, Kassius Nelson in "Dead Boy Detectives"

George Rexstrew, Jayden Revri, Kassius Nelson in "Dead Boy Detectives"

(Photo: Netflix)

One of the subplots in "Season of Mists" is a ghost story set in a British boarding school, meant to help illustrate the problems caused by Lucifier's decision to empty Hell of all its residents in a plot to get back at Dream. 

Gaiman liked the characters so much that he brought them back for a Vertigo Comics crossover event called Children's Crusade in the mid-1990s. The pair went on to get their own spin-off comic from writers Toby Litt and Mark Buckingham, which followed them as they investigated a mystery involving the corpses of homeless children washing up on the shores of the Thames.

Part of what makes the pair's story so special obviously, is the bittersweet nature of the way they met. After all, they're only friends because of the tragic ways they both died, yet they decide to stay together, solving supernatural mysteries and doing good. 

Who amongst us can honestly say that if we were hanging around the Earth as a ghost we wouldn’t want to start a detective agency?” Gaiman said, speaking to Netflix's Tudum about the series. “I think what fans responded to the most was their good-heartedness and dedication.”

Newcomer George Rexstrew plays Edwin Payne, alongside Jayden Revri (Fate: The Winx Saga) as Charles Rowland. Kassius Nelson (Hollyoaks) is psychic medium Crystal Palace, while Yuyu Kitamura is Niko Saskai. Other members of the series ensemble cast include Jenn Lyon (Justified), Briana Cuoco (Harley Quinn), Ruth Connell (Doom Patrol), Michael Beach (DAHMER — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story), Lukas Gage (You), Joshua Colley (Senior Year), and David Iacono (The Summer I Turned Pretty). 

Here's the synopsis for Dead Boy Detectives

Do you have a pesky ghost haunting you? Has a demon stolen your core memories? You may want to ring the Dead Boy Detectives.

Meet Edwin Payne and Charles Rowland, “the brains” and “the brawn” behind the Dead Boy Detectives agency. Teenagers born decades apart who find each other only in death, Edwin and Charles are best friends and ghosts… who solve mysteries. They will do anything to stick together – including escaping evil witches, Hell and Death herself. With the help of a clairvoyant named Crystal and her friend Niko, they are able to crack some of the mortal realm’s most mystifying paranormal cases.

Based on characters from Gaiman's comic series, Dead Boy Detectives was developed for television by Steve Yockey (The Flight Attendant), who wrote the first episode and also serves as showrunner alongside Beth Schwartz (Arrow). 

“If The Sandman is this really lush, rich supernatural drama, then Dead Boy Detectives is the Hardy Boys on acid,” Yockey told Netflix's Tudum when the series' move was announced. “Hopefully just as addictive, but through a severely cracked lens.”

Greg Berlanti (Riverdale), Jeremy Carver (Supernatural), Sarah Schechter (You), Leigh London Redman (Gotham Knights), Yockey, Schwartz, and Gaiman serve as executive producers, and the series hails from Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television. 

Dead Boy Detectives will premiere on April 25 on Netflix.

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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