“You woke up.” That’s how the story ended in The Sandman, issue #72.
The fan favourite and critically acclaimed series would continue for three more, single-chapter issues outside the scope of the main storyline, of course, famously concluding with the William Shakespeare inspired story, The Tempest in issue #75.
But it’s how The Sandman began that is of interest today.
“Wake up,” are the first words you read when you open the pages to The Sandman #1.
But what happened before that? Well, today, begins that overture.
Written by: Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by: J.H. Williams III
Published by: Vertigo Comics
Many people have read The Sandman comic book series, whether in its monthly instalments, first published in 1989, or its various trade paperback or hardcover collections as well as its beautiful Absolute Edition collections. It’s a beloved title, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by an array of talented artists, wherein the story centers on the character of Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams, and the changing of his personality over the six years of monthly publication.
That’s probably an oversimplification, but true nonetheless. Morpheus moves from a solely resolute entity that is set in his ways, to someone most definitely affected and, more importantly, touched, by the lives and the actions of the many people that surround him.
The first issue begins with the capture of a weakened Morpheus by the conjuring of a human occultist who is actually trying to imprison his sister, Death. The Lord of Dreams has a family you see, made up of the anthropomorphic personifications of Death, Destiny, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Delirium – who was also once called Delight. The imprisonment lasts over seventy years.
But today’s release of The Sandman: Overture #1, a six-issue, bi-monthly series, twenty-five years after the characters first appearance, details the story of what happened before that capture. It tells us why Morpheus was weakened and why he was so easily captured.
Once again written by Neil Gaiman, the series is lavishly illustrated by J.H. Williams III, an artist held in high regard, and one who pushes (and breaks) the boundaries of sequential art regularly, detailing new ways of visual storytelling. He’s definitely a favourite of mine, most recently a writer himself on the DC Comics series Batwoman. It’s a treat to see him work with Gaiman, a best-selling and award-winning writer who has typically tailored his scripts to the strengths of the artists that he works with.
For fans of the original series, you’ll get to meet your favourite characters again, including Merv Pumkinhead, Daniel, Mad Hettie, the Corinthian and, of course, the Dream King’s various siblings. Secrets about the family, kept for nearly three decades by the author, will now be revealed.
The long-awaited The Sandman: Overture should prove to be a powerful series indeed, one that will be enjoyed by both readers of fiction and lovers of art. It is all the things that make comic books such an exciting and enjoyable medium for storytelling.
Make the run to your local comic book shop today and be sure to pick up The Sandman: Overture #1.
Every Wednesday, JP makes the after-work run to his local downtown comic book shop. Comics arrive on Wednesdays you see and JP, fearful that the latest issue will sell out, rushes out to purchase his copy. This regular, weekly column will highlight a particularly interesting release, written in short order, of course, because JP has to get his – before someone else does!