The Sandman Overture #1 Review

The Sandman Overture #1

Written by Neil Gaiman
Art by J.H. Williams, III
Cover by J.H. Williams, III
Dave McKean
Variant Cover by J.H. Williams, III
Dave McKean
Published by DC/VERTIGO Comics

Rating: 10 (of 10)

The Sandman takes its place among the annals of comic book history as possibly one of the most iconic series written in the Modern comic age. After 17 years, and several spin-offs, Neil Gaiman returns to the helm of this magnificently penned series in what will be a 6 issue miniseries exploring the interim period of Dream’s life prior to being captured for 70 years by the Crowley-esque Roderick Burgess. In light of DC’s New 52 initiative, should we be skeptical of this revisiting? Or has Gaiman given us the best gift for Christmas?

The Sandman Overture is explosive. That is the one word I have to describe the 36 page issue that was released (at this writing) last week. While Gaiman’s series are notable for their allusions to historical and literary figures, Overture’s first entry lacks much of these. Instead what we are given is a refined glimpse into the physical universe and how the Endless interact with it. It’s a stylistic trade at the very least, but what is gained is an acute awareness of who Dream is, what his mission encompasses, and a reinterpretation of his mortality. While this world-building element may take away some of the emotional climax of the original run of the series, it offers a new, bold perspective of what Gaiman has in store for his fan base.

Artistically, J.H. Williams’s rendition of the dreaming and the waking worlds is surreal and euphoric, employing a myriad of styles that express the diversity of Dream’s domain. There are three spreads featured in the comic that beautifully render the atmosphere Gaiman emulates in his storytelling. The first is The Corinthian spread, the second is The Destiny spread, and the third is The Portcullis spread.  What each of these spreads have in common is their awareness of movement, energy, and form, all of which are beautifully rendered, bringing the reader back to the original feelings they first felt when picking up Sandman #1 in 1989.

I will not go into detail as to the plot, because it’s absolutely marvelous, but I will ask the readers to look for the Jack Kirby throwback. I don’t know why it is there, but it is my hope that the brief glimpse is expanded upon.

Most of what Gaiman writes is pure gold, but in fairness to the art of reviewing I will offer this one note of constructive criticism:

Don’t screw this up!

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Stuart Warren is the former managing editor and webmaster for Sequart Organization. Stuart earned a BA in English with an emphasis in Early Modern Studies at University of California Santa Barbara. An avid reader and historian, Stuart researches Nordic mythology and paganism and is self-taught in the Norwegian language (Bokmål). He is a novelist and comic book writer. Spirit of Orn, his breakout Science Fantasy epic is now available for purchase via Amazon Kindle and iBooks.

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  1. The Kirby element may be nothing more than a sly reminder that Gaiman was asked originally by DC to update the Kirby Sandman, but he chose to write a series about Morpheus, et al.

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