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Brute and Glob (Sandman characters) (DC Comics)

Brute and Glob


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Brute and Glob originally appeared in 1974, in Jack Kirby’s Sandman for DC Comics. They have had a peculiar career. As a result they exist in about four different continuities that contradict each other, without clear demarcations.

We’ve used our usual Morrisonian  “everything is true” approach, assuming that all events in all continuities happened and suggesting the least intrusive ways for them to be tied together. The exception is their appearance in The Sandman Presents: Everything You Always Wanted to Know[…]. Those were humorous skits rather than in-setting stories.

For context, you should first read our character profile for Sandman (Dr. Garrett Sanford). It has full explanations about many of the concepts, dimensions, characters, etc. that’ll be mentioned here.


Powers and Abilities

Brute and Glob are senior Dreamkin. That is, they’re beings from the Dreaming created by the Lord Shaper (Dream of the Endless). They have a stable appearance and persona, and work for him to run the Dreaming. The pair is classified as Major Arcana nightmares, and were among the staff at Dream’s palace.

This hierarchical system and its categories are poorly documented. But the other entities known to belong to that class are the Corinthian in their successive incarnations, and Fiddler’s Green. Dream described them as “puissant”, and said the the pair was “brute strength and base cunning”.

The Major Arcana of the Dreaming seem to be as old as the universe – billions of years old. The example of the Corinthian shows us that it is *possible* that there were another Brute and Glob before the current Glob and Brute. However the Lord Shaper banished them rather than uncreate them after they betrayed him, so maybe it doesn’t quite work as with the Corinthian.

Dreams within a dream

Being nightmares, Glob and Brute cannot usually be perceived by people who aren’t sleeping. This effect is suspended in the Dreaming (and perhaps similar dimensions), since being there and dreaming are the same thing. They also have the innate magic ability to make ordinary people fall asleep by willing it.

Brute is superhumanly strong, and a powerful fighter. He’s strong enough to beat the vast majority of nightmares, though he couldn’t handle the Fury (Lyta Hall) at the height of her power.

Glob is made of goop. If forced to fight, he’ll hurl himself at his opponent’s head to smother them. Glop is a schemer though, not a fighter. It is normally Brute who will do anything physical.

The pair could create a sort of mini-dream-dimension within the mind of Jed Walker, using unrevealed methods.

They also mentioned that they could impersonate people by killing them and “wearing their skin” (probably metaphorically). In DC Heroes RPG terms, this would probably be a Ritual.

A game of you

In the 1970 stories Brute is the clever, articulate one and Glob something of a non-entity. In the 1990s stories Brute displays low intelligence and cunning, and Glob is the brains and mouth of the pair. The difference is stark.

Our No-Prize Hypothesis  is that in the 1970s and 1980s “Brute” was actually Glob and vice-versa. They had swapped bodies as part of their role-playing game in Jed Walker’s mind. That was for much the same reason that they pretended to be prisoners.

Thus, during Dream’s captivity, Glob had Brute’s appearance and physical capabilities, and vice-versa. Our game stats are for Brute and Glob in their normal bodies, the assumption being that they reverted to their identities once Dream found them and the game was over.

Mayfair’s Book of Magic describes Brute and Glob as near-symbiotic and close to being a single creature with two bodies. In this context, the body switch hypothesis seems reasonable.


History

In 1916, English occultist Roderick Burgess attempted to capture Death. But the occult ceremony didn’t quite work out. They actually trapped another member of the Endless – Dream, sometimes called the Sandman. Dream remained imprisoned for decades. In his absence, his dimension fell into disarray.

Among the inhabitants of this dimension — the Dreaming — was a pair of senior servants called Brute and Glob. The pair eventually went AWOL. They decided to make their own Dreaming and their own Sandman. But this time they would be the ones who secretly held the power.

Their “Sandman” would just be some dupe they’d trick into playing the role. As to their “Dreaming” it would be the dreams of just one person, cut off from the rest of the Dreaming.

Dream time

The timing for this project is difficult to pin down. Using publication dates, they were first seen in 1974, at which point their faux-Dreaming was already running. They pop up in a few places until 1989. Which is when it is revealed that their faux-Dreaming is set in the mind of little Jed Walker, a little boy living in the US.

Even assuming a ten-year compressed timeline, this doesn’t quite work out right. Unless they established themselves in Walker’s mind at birth or in utero.

In this light, it seems likely that Glob and Brute went through a number of “hosts”. They presumably their faux-Dreaming in successive minds over the decades. They found a series of dupes to be the Sandman, their faux-Dream.

Howbeit, Glob tells Dream that Sanford was their first “Sandman”. But it is entirely possible that he was lying to avoid chastisement by Dream.

Fortifying the unreal

The narration strongly implies that Brute and Glob manipulated Jed Walker’s life. Presumably, they influenced his foster parents into beating him, abusing him and keeping him imprisoned in ghastly conditions.

This caused Jed to reject the physical world and seek solace in his own dreams and fantasies. This in turn is what provided Glob and Brute with the resources to fortify their faux-Dreaming and hide it further.

This rejection of the real world made the dimension within Jed Walker’s mind difficult to access. Doing so meant walking a labyrinthine path and fighting nightmare creations. The way the fake Dreaming was hidden and defended was judged to be superior craft by Dream of the Endless

Enter Sanford

The first known faux-Sandman was one Dr. Garrett Sanford. Sanford became lost in dreams circa 1970 while rescuing the President’s mind from a nightmare monster. In unknown circumstances Sanford met with Glob and Brute.

Brute and Glob as drawn by Kirby

Sanford was acting as a sort of super-hero of dreams. He protected people assaulted by nightmare monsters like the President had been. Brute and Glob passed themselves for “nightmare demons” whom the heroic Sanford recruited and kept contained.

Glob and Brute presented themselves as being mischievous and chaotic, but not evil per se. They also were entirely willing to help. Though they did not see the point of helping people and had to be kept restrained let they cause uncontrollable nightmares, they were dependable allies.

Presumably, this strange arrangement allowed Brute and Glob to act out their fantasies about their relationship with their creator.

Deadline in the sand

Glob and Brute had many adventures as Sandman’s helpers, fighting improbable menaces. They were also allies of the dream-self of Jed Walker, Jed Paulsen. Paulsen was frequently rescued by the Sandman then became another sidekick of sorts.

However, the faux dream dimension had deleterious effects on human minds. This puzzled Brute and Glob since these effects were nothing to them. These made their faux-Sandman increasingly convinced that he was indeed an immortal, eternal guardian of dreams and mythological creature. Later on, these induced a complete breakdown and suicidal urges.

Circa 1987, Sanford thus killed himself.

Hall of mirrors

Glob and Brute then picked a dead man to be their next faux Sandman. It was Hector Hall, formerly the Silver Scarab. Their assumption was that a dead person would not have his mind affected as Sanford’s had been.

Brute and Globe open their bags of vile things

Hall brought in his pregnant wife Hippolyta. But over the years both became stuporous and caught in the narratives of the faux dream dimension. Brute and Glob were disappointed, but their Sandman (Hall) had further adventures in the same vein as Sanford did, such as :

  • Fighting the Skeleton Men from Pluto.
  • Rescuing the Tooth Fairy from the Jovian Fish Men.
  • Preventing the Big Bad Wolf from huffing down the Chrysler Building.

In 1989, Dream broke free from his imprisonment and returned to the Dreaming. Putting things in order, he went after Brute and Glob. The pair realised that their game was over when they saw that Dream had regained enough of his strength to handle the defences of their little dream dimension.

Dream ended the dimension, destroyed the ghost of Hector Hall, left the pregnant Hippolyta Hall on Earth – and condemned Brute and Glob to the Darkness.

Do the limbo

The two nightmares spent ten years in oblivion. They were there along with “everything that hasn’t been created yet, or never will be, and everything that’s been forgotten”. They would apparently have been in the Darkness for thousands more years had not Dream been destroyed.

Dream’s sibling Desire, who held dominion over the Darkness, then offered them a deal. They took it.

Rebellion

As per Desire’s instructions Glob and Brute approached the new Corinthian – formerly Echo. They led her to the House of Mysteries in the Dreaming. The House had a plan, which it enacted by possessing Echo.

Brute and Glob had been told that Echo would lead a rebellion for nightmares. The aim reportedly was to win the right to establish their own realms. In these they would not be servants of the Lord Shaper, and would work for him because they agreed to. This was true, but the two nightmares were overwhelmed by how fast the events progressed.

Echo told a horde of nightmares that she was Dream’s exiled sister- Dread of the Endless. This apparently was a lie to gain the loyalty of the nightmares.

Brute and Glob use their bags of vile things

Dream let the rebellion gain momentum to learn from it. Echo and her nightmares (with Brute and Glob as her lieutenants and advisors) even took over Eve’s cave to free the Night Terrors. Glob and Brute became increasingly uneasy, sensing that things were either utterly out of control. They suspected that they were but pawns in a situation Dream would dominate.

Dream sent the previous Corinthian deal with his successor. He also sent Abel and his entourage to handle the matter of the House. When the two agents of Dream ended up confronting Echo at more or less the same time, Brute and Glob sided with them. They wrestled Echo down, hoping that it would earn them a less severe chastisement from Dream.

Then there is darkness, and then there is no darkness

With the situation back under control, the Lord Shaper consigned them back to the Darkness. That was even though he knew of Desire’s role in freeing them.

(One puzzling reference explains that they were imprisoned not in the Darkness but in the most innocent and saccharine dreams of children, perhaps to deprive them of sustenance. It is possible that the new, less experienced incarnation of Dream changed his mind as to where to imprison the two nightmares.)

(Dream originally intended to contact Desire to talk about her role in the Echo plot, but then got cold feet. In this context, changing his mind and moving Brute and Glob to a prison less firmly within Desire’s dominion, and much more in his own, would make sense.)

The two nightmares freed themselves very quickly. Then they hid at the outskirts of the Dreaming so Dream of the Endless wouldn’t find them. They ambushed dreamers and drank their dreams to sustain themselves.

During one such attack their poor luck struck again. The schoolgirl they snared in a dream forest turned out to be Elaine Belloc. Unbeknownst even to herself, Belloc was the first of a new generation of angels.

Belloc instinctively warped gravity to neutralise the two nightmares. Defeated, they agreed to give her directions toward Hell to continue her quest if she would depart and leave them alone. Which she did.

Recurring dream

Glob and Brute lived for a few years as dream brigands of a sort. Under unknown circumstances they learned of the existence of the mortal Sandy Hawkins. Hawkins the former sidekick of the Sandman (Wesley Dodds), who inherited Dodds’ specific connection with Dream of the Endless.

It is possible that they simply stumbled upon him while Hawkins was having one of his prophetic dreams.

Brute and Glob kidnapped Hawkins’s dream self. They separated it from his body, then brainwashed him into believing that he was the new Sandman. As such he succeeded Dr. Sanford, Hector Hall and perhaps others. They then went through another iteration of their “Sandman” plot. Brute and Glob set a crude base in the outskirts of the Dreaming as their starter headquarters.

Off to never-never land

However, as Sand of the JSA Hawkins had powerful friends. These came looking for his spirit. Worse, this JSA task force allied with none other than Hippolyta Hall (who had resumed being the Fury when needed) and Hector Hall (now the new Doctor Fate).

Glob and Brute attacked the Halls. But they badly underestimated the Fury, whom they remembered as being six months pregnant, perpetually dazed and out of shape. The Fury beat up Brute and cracked his skull, then tore Glop apart to prevent him from smothering her husband.

The two nightmares, stunned by the wounds inflicted by the Fury, were banished by Fate. The good doctor returned them to the most innocent childhood dreams. As to Sand, his mind and body were successfully reunited and the brainwashing cleansed.


Description

If the pair has to walk a significant distance, Glob will usually ride on Brute’s back.


Personality

Brute and Glob were but briefly seen in their baseline state. Brute is somewhat slow and confused, but with a certain wisdom and pragmatism despite his lack of conventional acumen. Glob is angry, oft-cursing, and ambitious, always dreaming up schemes and wanting to go on the offensive.

As “nightmare demons” (part 1)

While they were role-playing being “nightmare demons”, Brute and Glob seemed to gave switched their level of acumen.

Glob was sort of just… there. He seldom did or said anything that had an impact. Yet he didn’t come across as particularly dumb either – just unremarkable.

Brute, by contrast, was a cunning and secretive ne‘er-do-well. Though it wasn’t constant, Brute often had a strong urban-working-class vibe and diction. He oft came across like a street-tough 1960s blue-collar Bronx labourer. Brute even said “it’s clobberin’ time” once.

Brute and Globe depressed by the real Sandman's return

As “nightmare demons” they presented a chaotic, amoral, juvenile nature. They liked to watch suffering and catastrophes. They would often protest against the Sandman intervening since that would put an end to whichever crisis they were watching on the dream monitors.

Left unrestrained, they would trigger all sorts of problems and nightmares. Since they are nightmares in the first place.

As “nightmare demons” (part 2)

However, they were also allies of the Sandman. As such they frequently rescued him and helped him perform good deeds. Glob and Brute were a major part of the Sandman’s adventures.

While they didn’t really get the point of helping people, it was more fun than being contained in a tube, and the Sandman was their friend. If Sanford found himself in a jam, they could be counted upon to come to help, possibly along with Jed Paulsen.

Brute and Glob didn’t seem to mind being confined to their prison tubes. They apparently understood that it was objectively best for them to be restrained.

Even though they had secret means to free themselves (a duplicate Hypnosonic Whistle), they apparently only used it to help Sanford. They remained imprisoned the rest of the time. One caption implies that the two had voluntarily joined as full-time assistants.

Glob and Brute had various relatives among other nightmare demons in the Dream Stream. Frex they had aunts and uncles, including Brute’s uncle Harry. The Sandman would occasionally let them have a vacation to visit their families. Such occasions, although they imply a crowd of Kirbyesque monsters, are otherwise indistinguishable from a typical 1970s American garden BBQ party.


Quotes

(As “nightmare demons”)

Sandman: “The emergency alarm ! A-and no wonder ! Nightmare monsters have broken out of the Dream Stream and are overrunning the Earth !”
Brute: “Hee hee ! So what ? Everybody’s entitled a night out once in a while !”
Glob: “Yeah ! Leave ’em alone ! Let’s just sit here and watch while they destroy the world !”

Brute: “See ? As long as we stay inside the fantasy dimension, he’ll think he’s just havin’ a dream about us !”
Glob: “Neat idea, Brute.”

(As themselves)

Glob: “Festering scabs ! Pus and pow and puke on it all ! We came so damned close ! Just a few more years. It could have worked.”
Brute: “No.” (long beat) “No, it would never have worked. But it was fun to try.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

The characterisation of Brute and Glob is different pre- and post-Crisis. This has a significant impact on their Mental and Mystical Attribute. The stats below assume that our hypothesis about who is Brute and who is Glob is correct.


Brute

Dex: 06 Str: 12 Bod: 09 Motivation: Power
Int: 03 Wil: 03 Min: 06 Occupation: Renegade Dreamkin
Inf: 05 Aur: 05 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 014 HP: 030

Powers:
Dimension Travel: 07, Invisibility: 08, Invulnerability (ML): 12, Sleep (ML): 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Dimension Travel is presumably limited to dimensions with links to the Dreaming (such as the DC Universe, where many creatures dream and thus frequent the Dreaming).
  • Invisibility only when operating in the waking world or the Jed Paulsen reality, and only from persons who are awake. It works against all senses except touch.
  • Invulnerability takes about five minutes per roll.
  • Sleep induces an ordinary state of sleeping, with the persons waking up just as if they had naturally fallen asleep.

Skills:
Acrobatics (Climbing): 05, Animal handling: 03, Occultist: 05

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Dreaming), Expansive Headquarters (Dream Dome), Immortal.

Connections:
Glob (High), Sandman (Dr. Sanford, then Hector Hall) (High), “Jed Paulsen” (High).

Drawbacks:
None demonstrated.

Equipment:

  • Brute secretly had a replica Hypnosonic Whistle, which he could use to open his and Glob’s containment tubes or to teleport back to the Dream Dome.
  • Brute and Glob often came to the rescue carrying “bags of vile things”. These are crude bags of rough fabric holding a mass of small nightmares. These critters are only visible by sleeping people but will usually induce panic and helpless prostration and the charge and swarm the sleeper [BODY 02, Phobia: 07].

Glob

Dex: 06 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Power
Int: 06 Wil: 06 Min: 06 Occupation: Renegade Dreamkin
Inf: 07 Aur: 07 Spi: 07 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 019 HP: 030

Powers:
Fluid form: 04, Dimension Travel: 07, Invisibility: 08, Invulnerability (ML): 12, Self-Link (Snare): 06, Sleep (ML): 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Dimension Travel is presumably limited to dimensions with links to the Dreaming (such as the DC Universe, where many creatures dream and thus frequent the Dreaming).
  • Snare is Contingent upon Fluid Form.
  • Invisibility only when operating in the waking world or the Jed Paulsen reality, and only from persons who are awake. It works against all senses except touch.
  • Invulnerability takes about five minutes per roll.
  • Sleep induces an ordinary state of sleeping, with the persons waking up just as if they had naturally fallen asleep.

Skills:
Accuracy (Wrestling/Grappling): 07, Medicine (Brainwashing): 10, Occultist: 05

Bonuses and Limitations:
Accuracy (Wrestling/Grappling) is a Powered Skill and is Contingent upon Fluid Form.

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Dreaming), Expansive Headquarters (Dream Dome), Immortal.

Connections:
Brute (High), Sandman (Dr. Sanford, then Hector Hall) (High), “Jed Paulsen” (High).

Drawbacks:
Misc.: Glob leaves a thick trail of nightmare dust behind him, which makes it easy for other Dreamkin (the only beings who can normally perceive this dust) to track him down. He likely learned to suppress this effect after escaping from the Darkness.

Equipment:
“Bags of vile things” as above.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: DC Universe – chiefly Sandman vol. 1 (1974) and Sandman vol. 2 (1989).

Writeup completed on the 29th of January, 2012.

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