I try not to get too excited about new Sandman stories. I mean, Endless Nights and The Dream Hunters were entertaining, but they weren't as good as the main series, to me. As a friend of mine once told me, you can't go back, creatively, no matter how hard you try. So I tried to manage my expectations for Overture, but it's Neil Gaiman. And it's Sandman! I was probably lost before ever cracking the shrink on this book.
This volume collects the six-issue miniseries that tells the story of Morpheus before issue one of Sandman. All we know at the start of the series is that he's been captured, after returning, exhausted, from another universe. According to Neil's foreword, that story had lingered in his mind from the start of the series, but he never knew how to incorporate it into the series as he had planned it. Over twenty years later, he's returned to the story. The thing is, how do you return to that time? Van Halen attempted to do it with A Different Kind of Truth, and only revealed how much they've aged, and even Steven Spielberg has admitted that there's no way he could create Close Encounters of the Third Kind now that he's lost the naivete he had when he did create it. Can Neil do what others couldn't?
In short: yes. Neil managed to capture the wonder and magic and glory that he captured way back with the original series. Endless Nights and The Dream Hunters felt like revisiting a world with different stories in mind, but Overture is going back and telling a story involving the original characters. It felt like it could have been written and published within the same time frame as the original series, which pleased me to no end. This was the Sandman story I had been hoping to read with those other two books.
Along with collecting the story, this edition also collects some behind-the-scenes interviews with the creators. Neil's contributions were more silly than serious, but the artist, letterer, and even the colorist chimed in with how their creative process works, and I was fascinated by it. When I read graphic novels, I tend not to linger on the artwork too long, but the interview with J.H. Williams III made me realize how much the art leads how you read the story, and how something like the layout of the artwork can affect your emotions. It was a fascinating look at the process.
Meet the new Sandman, same as the old Sandman. Fans of the series will not be disappointed.