A triumph of ambitious storytelling and majestic artwork, “The Sandman: Overture” #1 is required reading for comic book fans everywhere. The illustrations are something from another world as each panel captures the rhythm of such poetic writing. For its 25th anniversary, the critically acclaimed “Sandman” series is back with a vengeance, twisting reader’s expectations about what comics should be. Gaiman and Williams III are a dream team.
WRITTEN BY: Neil Gaiman
ART BY: J.H. Williams III
PUBLISHER: Vertigo Comics
RELEASE: October 30th, 2013
On a distant planet, an alien species of exotic plants is withering away as they listen to a dying man’s screams. The banshee screams are so loud, they can even be heard in dreaming minds. Only Death knows which one of her Endless family members passed away in the cleansing fire. Elsewhere, The Sandman, aka Dream, awaits for his scheduled meeting with the psychotic guest known as Corinthian. With an appetite for eating eyes, Corinthian intends to continue his killing spree, even if Dream intends to uncreate him. But something else is pulling at Dream, calling him into battle.
Just as he has always done, writer Neil Gaiman crosses boundaries between folklore and literature. As a true master wordsmith, Gaiman’s articulate voice requires more than one sit-through. Each time you look back over the page, you connect the missing dots and end up being rewarded with a new reading experience. By playing around with words, Gaiman’s writing harkens back to Charles Dickens’ novels as he captures a 1900’s London time period. Gaiman interweaves many subplots seamlessly, as a way to reintroduce Dream and the other Endless members to newcomers and longtime followers.
What I really enjoyed about the narration is how Gaiman throws in his witty humor, even when the tone is at its most terrifying. Death is the perfect choice for Gaiman to unleash his brand of sophisticated wit, while being at his darkest. When Death leaves, Gaiman heightens the terror that surrounds the psychotic Corinthian. A frightening creature, Corinthian likes to eat eyes because he has mouths in place of eye sockets.
Artist J. H. Williams illustrates a lush and elegant look to the 1900s time period. In his character design, Dream wears a top hat, along with a distinctive trench coat, and has trimmed sideburns around his face. Though the Goth/punk costume doesn’t appear in this installment, I laughed aloud when Death appears wearing a Mary Poppins-like outfit. Williams delivers such cringe-worthy illustrations when showcasing Corinthian’s teeth-filled eyes and maniacal smile in extreme close-ups.
There is a four-page interior gatefold that is just simply awe-inspiring. In an immense display of detail, Williams illustrates every incarnation of Dream, some old and new, into the glossy pages. Dave Stewart’s colors vibrantly heighten the black and white hues of Dream’s body tone. Each stunning page is appealing to the eyes as Williams designs such inventive layouts for the eloquent prose.
Readers can tell a tremendous amount of thought, care, and heart went into “The Sandman: Overture” #1. “The Sandman” series continues to be an enduring classic, as it was before.
Reviewed by – Jorge Solis