Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Neil Gaiman's The Sandman: Overture - familiar and fresh

The Sandman returns 20 years after I was first introduced to this fantasy-horror series with Neil Gaiman at the helm again in a new mini-series titled OVERTURE, to help mark the 25th anniversary of the book.

If you’ve been around comics for a while, you recognize the critically-acclaimed, award-winning and commercially successful series and its creators (Gaiman, Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg) as iconic for the era of storytelling they helped to usher in with this book.

But even if you’ve never read a single issue or were only a casual reader of it back in the ‘90s, I recommend this new mini-series if your taste in comics dips into the realm of speculative fiction or dark fantasy.

A lot has already been written about this highly anticipated book and a lot more will be added once people have a chance to read this gorgeous first issue, which arrives in stores today. So I will only say this story tells the tale leading into very the first issue of the original series which debuted in 1989, an early wave of the invasion of British creators crashing upon the shores helping to launch the Vertigo brand with its suite of mind-bending books to warp impressionable minds.

I followed this book for nearly two years as it was drawing to a close. Season of Mists was my initial foray into this world. It’s been so long since I’ve read anything to do with these characters, and because I'm not a disciple of the cult of The Sandman or Gaiman, it almost feels like I'm approaching this as a first-timer. For instance, I don’t know if the interesting reveal at the end of this issue is new or known to long-time fans.

Gaiman’s writing is lyrical, especially in the opening pages, and is accompanied with interior art by the masterful J.H. WiIliams III. The story is well-crafted on many levels, approachable to everyone from newcomers to long-time readers. It does not appear to pre-suppose you know anything about the cast or the story from its 75-issue run in order to enjoy, so you can come to the book cold. However, if you have even only a passing knowledge of the characters, it will feel warm and familiar.

At $5, it’s priced on the high end. But when you consider how many $3 of $4 books you probably rip through in a couple of minutes, this “extra-sized” first issue is worth your entertainment dollar. Regular price will be $4.00 for issue 2 and on.

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