While The Sandman doesn't take place in the DC Universe, the show still pays a small tribute to its DC origins.
The concept of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series was born from a proposal to revive Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's 1970's series – which starred a crime-fighting, cape-wearing immortal figure whose main foe is the Nightmare Wizard. Gaiman's The Sandman #1 hit shelves in 1988, published by DC's Vertigo Comics imprint.
Nods to Simon and Kirby's Sandman and The Justice League are cleverly placed in The Sandman season 1 episode 8, something that is sure to delight DC and 'OG' Sandman fans alike.
Warning, spoilers for The Sandman ahead!
While in the custody of two abusive foster parents, Jed Walker is frequently visited by Gault – a shapeshifting nightmare who desperately wants to be a dream instead. She takes on the appearance of the young boy's mother, and has him escape from his horrific reality by way of his dreams. In his dreams, Jed becomes a cape-wearing, masked superhero named The Sandman. He visits Gault in a control room, where she assigns his 'missions.'
In episode 8, the costume Jed is wearing is none other than one of the original designs for Simon and Kirby's Sandman, complete with the red hourglass logo emblazoned in the center as seen in latter appearances within the short-lived comic book series.
Toward the end of the comic's run, the 1970s Sandman becomes an honorary member of the Justice League.
In The Sandman season 1 episode 8, we can make out a few Justice League action figures in both Jed's dream-based control room and his physical basement bedroom. At Gault's center of command is a Wonder Woman action figure, and behind Jed in several shots sits an action figure of The Flash. A Batman figure also makes an appearance on Jed's desk. Though it may not be a real-life cameo, it's good enough for us.
All 10 episodes of The Sandman are streaming right now on Netflix. For more, check out our list of the best Netflix shows. Gaiman's Sandman pays tribute to this in Sandman #5, released in 1989, which follows Dream as he visits the Justice League headquarters in hopes of finding his missing ruby.