Sir Jon’s Comic Book Review – Sandman Overture
The collected edition of the six-issue mini-series SANDMAN: OVERTURE was released in late 2015, to a relieved readership. The individual issues were a lengthy publishing venture, with the first being released in 2013 and the last in 2015. It had been announced repeatedly as issues were delayed that the writer, Neil Gaiman wanted to retain the same artist, J.H. Williams. As Gaiman fell behind, extending the wait for the completion, Williams did some of his best work while maintaining other jobs, making the wait well worth it.
SANDMAN: OVERTURE is the long-anticipated return of Gaiman to his creation, SANDMAN, which ran 75 issues between 1989 and 1996. A DC publication, it was one of the first titles igniting the Vertigo imprint after 47 issues were released with the standard DC banner. OVERTURE is a complimentary wraparound bookend and prequel to the SANDMAN series, a duality of writing that is often seen in Gaiman’s works.
When the SANDMAN series opened, the first few issues show the physical embodiment of Dream, Morpheus, captured by a group of occultists for 75 years. OVERTURE explains how that occurred, while also going deep into the mythology Gaiman has built throughout comic books, short story collections and tie-in series that make up the stories of the Endless, the family of characters surrounding Morpheus. The story teases the long-time reader as well as the first-timer, answering a few questions left after the conclusion to SANDMAN, while revealing new characters and situations that leave just enough mysteriousness for there to be many, many more tales, should the writer choose. For the first time, the parents of the Endless are seen and named. Hints are dropped as to a group of higher beings that organized the Endless as needed aspects throughout the galaxies. The as-yet untold tale of Delight becoming Delerium is once again teased, to great effect. So much happens in the pages of OVERTURE that you can’t help but want to read the entire series again, with the hopes that Gaiman has plans for a future series.
OVERTURE is a beautiful comic book, utilizing the abilities of the artist to the extremes. It’s no wonder the series ran behind schedule. Williams is a master of mind-bending artistry and he’s gone all-in with OVERTURE. Once you spend time with each page, some of which break all of the comic book standards for panel art, you’ll be drawn into the story as much as if you didn’t have to read it. Because of this, SANDMAN: OVERTURE is the near-perfect melding of words and pictures.
As a stand-alone graphic novel, OVERTURE is exceptional. It tells a complete story with just enough unexplained for those interested to search out the other SANDMAN collections. For those that know the SANDMAN series, it’s an incredible treat, encompassing the whole of the mythology, while allowing it to be either read first in the series, or last. Utilizing many veterans of the SANDMAN series, it’s like putting on a favorite coat to fans. Todd Klein’s letters vary widely from character to character as they always have, and Dave Stewart’s colors vibrantly enrich William’s work. Dave McKean returned for the covers of the individual issues, which always draw the eye, as well as the study. SANDMAN: OVERTURE is well worth delving into.