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Published July 9, 2018

This post was originally published on Rogues Portal on July 9, 2018.

The Absolute Sandman: Overture

Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artist: J. H. Williams III
Covers: Dave McKean
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Todd Klein
Publisher: Vertigo

Review by Jay Borenstein

If you’re an aficionado of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman universe, a denizen of The Dreaming, then you owe it to yourself to check out this ultimate edition of Sandman: Overture. Not only is it a true piece of art, but like the other Absolute Sandman editions before, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of thelife cycle of comics from Gaiman’s brain to the page.

Sandman: Overture was originally published as a 6-issue series in 2013. It acts as a prequel to the original 75-issue run of Sandman, and manages to tie up some loose threads Gaiman never got to resolve in the original series. If you’re wondering if Overture is a good place to enter the Sandman series, you’re better off going back to read the original series first – Overture will definitely have more impact if you do.

Gaiman feels right at home with his reentry to Sandman, it feels as if he didn’t skip a beat. In the first issues of the original series, we knew Dream had been in a massive ordeal and was only captured due to his fatigue. In this prequel, we finally find out what he was facing, as Overture pits Dream against the destruction of the universe itself. The story is a whirlwind, and for a long time Sandman reader, filled in some gaps and expanded the lore in a way that left a goofy smile on my face.

To say that it’s a treat to see J. H. William III’s art in this oversized 15.6 inches tall x 9 inches wide edition of Sandman is an understatement. While the original run of Sandman featured some amazing artists, it feels as if William III’s style was born out of a necessity to capture Gaiman’s psychedelic dreamscapes. Pages in Overture are flush with vivid imagery that is disarming in its ability to feel as if you’ve entered a psychic landscape where the rules of reality no longer apply – it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before, even in the Sandman series prior. Dave Stewart’s colouring boosts this effect, enticing the eye with the various minute details on each page. This is not a volume to rush through by any means.

If you have any of the other Absolute Sandman editions, you’re familiar with the smorgasbord of extra features, and Overture is no exception. Also, this edition is formatted the same as the prior Absolute Sandman editions, so you can add it to your shelf without your OCD giving you palpitations. The cover has embossed whorls and silver lettering giving the whole package a luxurious look, and the same textured black hardcover binding used in the previous Absolute Sandman editions. It also includes the cardboard slipcase.

You could easily spend hours perusing the extra features, which give you a glimpse into how the sausage is made. The heftiest feature by far is the entire comic reprinted with no colouring or digital effects, just Williams III’s original brushwork.

You’ll also find Gaiman’s complete script for the first issue of Overture (with notes in reply from William III), interviews both new and old (including Gaiman’s long-time letterer Todd Klein and cover artist Dave McKean), a cover gallery, and some extra art.

As the name suggests, this is the ABSOLUTE edition to the latest (and hopefully not last) entry in the Sandman saga.

Verdict: Buy it!
This is a true collector’s item, alongside the other Absolute editions of Sandman. There is no better resource to get a behind the scenes glance at how Sandman was created, and these editions are the ultimate versions of the comics in print quality. If you’re lucky enough to have this on your shelf, you’ll be the envy of Gaiman fans everywhere. If you’re deterred by the retail price of this tome ($125 USD), be sure to check different retailers both online and in your local comic book store as I’ve seen plenty of deals.

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