By Neil Gaiman, J. H. Williams III & Dave Stewart
After getting severely dropkicked in the proverbial groin with delays, the second issue in the new Sandman: Overture miniseries has finally arrived. Was it worth the wait? Well, that’s the same as asking if it was worth a few extra months to get what might be one of the best single comic books ever produced. Clearly, the answer is a resounding yes! For those unfamiliar with the original series, issue #2 will likely prove quite confusing. However, for long-time fans like myself who have read and re-read Sandman over and over, this latest book felt even more like a natural continuation of the original series.
By now, most of you are aware that Neil Gaiman is a brilliant writer. His work in Sandman is incredibly literary and intelligent, and this remains very apparent in Overture #2. This is truly some of the deepest writing you will find, almost with a vaguely Shakespearean sensibility given through the astonishing prose. Again, it feels like a natural follow-up to the original series, despite the main story occurring many years previous. This is largely accomplished through the wonderful opening scenes featuring Daniel as Dream along with Mad Hettie in the present; a great throwback to some original characters that provided a very enigmatic and mysterious transition back into the current plot featuring Morpheus himself. Overall though, this latest installment is pure poetry for the mind that will enthrall readers of any genre.
As expected of this title, Overture #2 is rampant with the bizarre that is fuelled by astonishing creativity. There really isn’t anything else quite like this book. The fractured aspects of Morpheus have been recalled to a single location and this whole sequence almost feels like a highly intelligent play on Who’s on First? as the individual aspects discuss matters of dialogue versus monologue and other related features of discussion with oneself. However, the main plot remains at center stage amidst the wonderfully intelligent writing, and this is really one heck of a story. Like everything else in this series, there really isn’t anything like it elsewhere in comic books or novels. There are some particularly cosmic moments in this latest installment that beg for further explanation, but they were incredibly interesting, intriguing, and poetic. It also needs to be said that it is beyond cool that the Dream of Cats has chosen to accompany the “central” aspect of Morpheus on his investigation!
What more can be said about J. H. Williams III? The guy is a perfect match for Neil Gaiman, given that they are both absolute geniuses. When it was announced that he would be providing the visuals for Overture, fans rejoiced, especially those who were familiar with his work on Promethea. Very abstract and strange stories captured by incredibly deep and literary writing can find no better partner than Williams, as he always manages to capture the overall idea of each scene with not only breath-taking illustrations, but also with creative layouts and designs that are unparalleled. The second issue of Overture was even more visually astonishing than the first with some of the best panel layouts in recent memory that really allow the strange plot to flow effortlessly, and also include great artwork simply as a framing feature! The depth of the storytelling is further enhanced by the gorgeous illustrations and paintings that are both vivid and lifelike, and also strange and “cosmic” in appearance. Even aside from the amazing writing, this is visual storytelling at its finest. The creatures and various character designs are incredibly creative and interesting, while the realism and attention to detail is unlike anything we’ve seen in this title before. The sequence when Morpheus is speaking with Glory was particularly jaw-dropping, as each page is framed within Dream’s red gem, and Dream himself is constantly morphing between different aspects of himself as the narration moves between each facet of the gem.
As always, colorist Dave Stewart clearly demonstrates why he is one of the most important people working in comic books. The colors in Overture #2 make every page feel like a brilliant and beautiful painting that could easily be hung in any museum. The wildly vibrant colors of the Dream congregation, the deep reds of the gem-framed pages, the hazy features of the cosmic elements, everything looks truly astonishing. In particular, the pages featuring the woman bathing in the universe were tremendously beautiful, draped in blacks and deep blues and interesting side features.
Sandman: Overture #2 is a true masterpiece. The story is unlike anything else with absolutely perfect writing that magnificently captures the deep, thought-provoking tone of the plot. Everything about this book is creative and unique while still providing a story that is engaging and exciting. Furthermore, the artwork has to be some of the best available in any visual medium. The actual images are beautiful and powerful, interesting and detailed, with overall designs and layouts that are unmatched by any contemporaries. Basically, if you aren’t reading Overture, I’m not sure we can be friends.