Book Review: Neil Gaiman's "Overture"

Jan 21, 2016

Comic book lovers across the world are excited about the return of The Sandman Series by beloved sci-fi author Neil Gaiman. Current State’s book reviewer Scott Southard gives us his take on the newest book in the series “Overture."


I’m in a little bit of a reviewer conundrum. How do I begin to explain a series that encompasses all of time and the known and unknown universe? Because that is how expansive Neil Gaiman’s "The Sandman" is. The only thing more impressively expansive is its author’s imagination.

To understand this groundbreaking comic book series, you must begin with the Endless. They are seven eternal beings of such immense power that even the gods themselves pay them homage. They are Desire, Delirium, Despair, Destiny, Destruction, Dream, and my favorite of the family, the very likeable Death. Each resides in their own realm, watching not only the people of Earth but all the worlds of known creation. Dream is a pale figure in a billowy black robe, but on each world and in each culture he looks different.

In the original run of the classic comic book series, the story begins with Dream being captured by a cult on Earth. He is held hostage until he can finally escape. The rest of the stories follow Dream as he rebuilds his kingdom and then tragedy of what happens afterwards. I don’t want to ruin too many of the surprises here if you haven’t read the graphic novels, so I’ll leave it at that.

After almost two decades, Gaiman returns to "The Sandman" series, this time with an adventure called "Overture." Here we discover what weakened Dream so much that he could be captured during that very first issue so long ago. Overture is a prequel, but at the same time, it isn’t. While it does set up all of the adventures in the original stories, it also rewards fans returning to the world of Dream.

One of the things I love about The Sandman series is how limitless the universe is. It’s a world where anything can happen. These are stories that include everything from the gods of mythology to superheroes to literary characters. In one issue, Gaiman tells a story about how Shakespeare wrote "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" and then performed it for the real fairies. I could go on and on.

In "Overture," Gaiman builds on the mythology of the Endless, introducing us to their parents: Time and Darkness. He also gives us a new story about the formation of the very universe. In this new adventure, Dream and a giant talking cat must convince his parents to save reality.

The Sandman series rewards a reader for having diverse tastes. It is a treasure trove for people who enjoy literature and mythology and comic books. And this leaves me with an answer to my conundrum at the start of the review. If you love creative writing, you should experience this comic series for yourself. Start at the beginning and then make your way to the newest edition. It may be over 75 issues, but the time will fly by like a wonderful dream.

Scott Southard is the author of the novels "Permanent Spring Showers" and "A Jane Austen Daydream". You can follow his writing via his blog "The Musings and Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard" at sdsouthard.com.