(Vertigo/DC Comics, 2014)
Written by Neil Gaiman
Artwork by J.H. Williams III
Cover B by Dave McKean
In a world built of monuments to instant gratification there are still some things that are worth waiting for. Sandman Overture #2 is one of those things.
This book is everything I wanted and expected from these two creative geniuses; Neil Gaiman reins in the obscurity and tightens the narrative focus in this issue giving us a far more organized and structured story to follow while J.H. Williams III turns out more gorgeous imagery equal to or better than his stunning work on the first issue.
There was little to complain about with the first issue of Sandman Overture but what very few minor missteps there were stood out like a mole on the Mona Lisa because expectations were so incredibly high and the book was so close to being perfect. This issue is pure sequential storytelling perfection. Gaiman and Williams III work together like a single entity; there is a seamless synergy in this book that you will not find in any other work on the racks today. This is a creative team inspired by the same muse; directed and moved under one inspiration and that comes shining through in this issue even more than in the first. I would have certainly preferred a shorter wait between issues but with results like this only a true cynic could complain.
Gaiman’s narrative becomes more coherent thus the pace seems to pick up and the story moves forward by leaps and bounds; where the first issue favored flowery prose over plot progression this one gets down to the business of storytelling. Gaiman still turns a phrase better than just about anyone maintaining the poetic sense of drama we have come to expect from him. The dialog is amazing as is the tale that begins to emerge through complex yet engrossing and entertaining exposition. Gaiman includes clever nods to past incarnations of the Dream King which provide Williams III with ample imagery to fill his lavish two page spreads.
The narrative is mainly concerned with the death of an aspect of the Dream King. Gaiman gathers the many varied aspects together in the dream realm and the story essentially becomes an epic murder mystery of Shakespearean proportions. Here the dialog becomes intricate and dense with imagery and beautifully constructed sentences full of intelligent prose. This ranks among some of my favorite issues of the original run of Sandman; that magical spark is definitely present.
Visually J.H. Williams III constructs organically sprawling pages. He uses irregular shaped panels that flow across pages connecting images and ideas like sinew. The majority of this issue consists of double page spreads; this seems to be an ideal presentation for his extremely detailed approach to storytelling. I cannot convey the beauty or the magnitude of Williams’ artwork with mere words; suffice to say there is nothing else like this being published today, especially by the big two. There is an ethereal sense to his work that is an obvious fit for Gaiman’s narrative.
I can’t imagine that there are many comic book readers who are not getting this book but, if you find yourself in that minority I believe you could jump on this series with the second issue and be just fine as far as following the story. I recommend this book to anyone with eyes who likes to use them to gaze upon beautiful images. This book is a treat for the mind as well as the eyes. (5/5)
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Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.