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I, along with most people, am a pretty big fan of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. I devoured every volume, one right after the other. It was unique to anything I’ve read before, in a way it’s unique to anything I have read.
So I was pretty psyched when the prequel series, Sandman: Overture, came out. An original work by Neil Gaiman with art by the very talented J.H. Williams III? Yes, please. With someone as seemingly adverse to revisiting past works, it was a real-deal dream come true.
So now that the prequel has finished, I can look at the thing as a whole and, as such, have a few choice thoughts on it.
If I’m being honest, a part of me was worried about this being a money grab on Gaiman’s part. I mean, people love the series, but no one was really clamoring for it. I don’t know Mr. Gaiman, so I can’t say for sure what exactly his thought process was in doing this. Maybe he just really wanted to do it on his own. I’ve just been hurt too many times.
After the first issues, I really didn’t have those fears. Sandman: Overture is such a strange, dreamlike experience that has so much effort put into crafting it, that I can’t believe it was done as a cash-in. Or, if it is, it’s done so well that it hardly makes a difference.
Williams’ art give the book a giant advantage. The panel placement, the way the book itself morphs to fit the narrative. It is, for the most part, as if you were watching a dream unfold. It also has the added benefit of making this book stand out. The rest of the Sandman works are a little more straightforward compositionally. Overture feel more of an artistic endeavor.
I wasn’t surprised to find the story about the same as past Sandman arcs. It was larger in scale (the entire universe is ending!) and more urgent, but the trappings were familiar. An insane star began infecting other stars and together they’re threatening to snuff out all of creation. Also, there’s a giant Cat version of Dream. That just sounds like a Sandman story.
Thought, it is more than just the plot. There’s a lot of the old Sandman spark in these issues. They’re just as introspective and operatic as the ones before, but there is something new there. These issues feel less, I don’t know, angst-y than the originals?
Maybe it’s two decades free of the cynical “British Invasion” comics experienced in the 90s, maybe Gaiman himself has changed over the years. The ending is bittersweet, yes, I mean it’s a Sandman comic, but there’s more hope to it now. Where the first ended with a “things are cyclical, they change, but that’s okay” message, Overture seems similar, but more of a “moments are worth enjoying, remember them, you don’t know when they’ll change”.
Overall, Sandman: Overture has once again awoken my need for more Sandman. It’s a solid six issues that somehow maintain their quality despite the time difference. In the back of my mind, I hope to see more, but in a way I think it’d be okay if this was it. The series has a way of ending up just satisfying enough to be a concrete end.
I haven’t seen it talked about too much online, which surprises me. It means I’m not too sure what the reaction has been. So please be sure to let me know what you thought of Sandman: Overture in the comments below!