Sunday, April 20, 2014

I Reads You Review: THE SANDMAN: Overture #2

DC COMICS/VERTIGO – @DCComics and @vertigo_comics

WRITER:  Neil Gaiman
ART: J.H. Williams, III
COLORS: Dave Stewart
LETTERS: Todd Klein
EDITOR: Shelly Bond
COVERS: J.H. Williams, III (Cover A); Dave McKean (Cover B)
32pp, Color, $4.99 U.S. (May 2014)

“Suggested for Mature Readers”

Chapter Two

The second issue of The Sandman: Overture finally arrives after a few months delay.  Overture is a six-issue miniseries based on The Sandman, a comic book series written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by numerous artists, including Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Jill Thompson, and Shawn McManus, among others.  The Sandman chronicled the adventures of a character called Dream (or Morpheus), created by Gaiman and artists, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg.  Dream was one of “The Endless,” and he ruled over the world of dreams.

The Sandman: Overture, written by Gaiman and drawn by artist J.H. Williams III, is a prequel, of sorts.  The series will explore Morpheus’ world before he was captured, which is how readers found him way back in The Sandman #1.

As Gaiman told The New York Times in a 2012 interview, “This is the one story that we never got to tell.  In Sandman #1, Morpheus is captured somehow. Later on in the series, you learn he was returning from somewhere far, far away – but we never got to the story of what he was doing and what had happened. This is our chance to tell that story, and J.H. Williams III is drawing it.  It’s the most beautiful thing in the world.”

The Sandman: Overture #2 opens with a look-in on the current Lord of Dreams.  The story then travels back to 1915 where Morpheus joins a gathering of other aspects of Dream from throughout time and space.  Why have they gathered?  It seems one of Dream’s aspects has died – or rather, been destroyed.  Who or what did it?  Morpheus intends to get answers from the First Circle, but he must first deal with some attitude.

In the first issue of The Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman focused on introducing concepts over revealing plot.  With the second issue, he jumps fully into storytelling and the plot, and, of course, it is quite good storytelling.  Even the plot offers surprises.  Do I even have to say that it is good?  Well, yes, I have to because it has been a long time since Gaiman has written a long-form Sandman comic book.  “Chapter 2” is brilliant, imaginative, colorful, and expansive.  Every panel sparkles with magic.

However, much of the credit should go to artist J.H. Williams III and colorist Dave Stewart.  I like what I see on the pages of The Sandman: Overture #2 so much that I think Williams and Stewart were born to be Sandman artists.  Williams’ dazzling page design peels open structures the way Will Eisner did in his famous comic, The Spirit, turning the rooms of a house into individual comic book panels.  Stewart’s colors throb and pulse.  I felt as if the colors were pushing into my eyes, on the way to blowing my mind.  Wow, The Sandman: Overture #2 is why I like reading comic books.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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