Welcome to the first installment of The Crank File. The Crank File is an open forum where I will offer speculations, reviews and ravings on all things comics.
25 years after starting his legendary run on the fantasy horror masterpiece Sandman, Neil Gaiman returns to Vertigo to tell the story of how it all began. There was a lot to like about the first three issues of Sandman Overture and I’ve been waiting (and waiting) with bated breath and parted lips for the cover to rise on chapter four. It did not disappoint. Minor spoilers ahead.
Dream of the Endless, his feline incarnation from an alternate reality and an orphaned child walk into the ethereal city of the stars. They are searching for an insane star-goddess housed in the city’s asylum. The mad sun that they seek threatens to destroy all of existence and it is Dream’s responsibility to stop her by whatever means necessary. Just another day in the hood.
As negotiations between Dream and the star citizens break down Dream goes for help, traveling between nanoseconds to the realm of his father, the patriarch of the Endless, father Time.
Time is the father of all existence. He is the manifestation of the eternal rhythm, the constant beating that allows for things to occur and reality to form. His appearance is like that of a man living out every stage of his life cycle simultaneously. His realm, like his appearance, is shifting and malleable. Bright colors and soft overlapping shapes create psychedelic landscapes that ebb and flow and blossom across the pages. His demeanor is cold, calculated and compassionless.
The artwork throughout Overture has been consistently gorgeous and engaging but issue four is visually the best that the series has produced. For me, the hallmark of this series has been the sublime page compositions. J.H. Williams III and the Overture creative team are setting a high water mark for what sequential story telling can achieve through dynamic page layouts.
Issue 4 closes with a flurry of twisting, page turning action. The the story leaves Dream in a familiar predicament and suggests one more member of the Endless to come, their Mother. Could it be Mother Nature of the Endless? Feel free to use that one, Neil.
Gaiman is crafting a sophisticated vehicle for probing the nature of dreams and myths, expanding and reestablishing the Sandman universe with brilliant results. The fittingly titled Overture series is a prequel that echoes many of the same themes explored within the main canon while setting itself apart with its own unique voice and vision.
The one criticism for this title has been the long gaps between issues. I personally don’t mind waiting for a high-quality product, and this book oozes quality, but the multi-month waits have been brutal.
It’s anyone’s guess when issue 5 will actually reach store shelves. If you can’t stand the idea of waiting months for the series to conclude then you might want to wait for it to come out as a trade paperback. But if you are a fan of Sandman, like so many of us are, you need to be reading Sandman Overture right now.