The first new Sandman comic in well over a decade was published yesterday. If you've never before read the comic that introduced Neil Gaiman to the world, you shouldn't start with Sandman: Overture. But if you've already read the other books, you'll find a lot to enjoy here. Because Gaiman is writing the book, it doesn't have the cash-grabby smarm of, say, DC's awful Before Watchmen series. There's an unmistakeable reunion feel, a kind of clubby getting-the-band-back-together vibe, but it's not crass or overly sentimental. We get to see a lot of the characters from the old Sandman books, specifically Dream and the Corinthian, although there are a other cameos, too.
This is the first issue of a six-issue limited series, so I can't really judge where the story's going yet. The one thing I can tell you is that J.H. Williams III's art is unbelievably good. Williams has always been a talented artist, but he's one of the rare comics artists who keeps getting better as he ages. The page layouts are somehow ornate without being cloying, his detail is precise without feeling lifeless, and while every page looks different—at one point, we're reading the comic over someone's shoulder, at another point the panels are panes in a slender window—the whole thing works as a single narrative. My biggest complaint is that it does feel weird picking up a Sandman comic that doesn't have a cover produced by Dave McKean, but you can't have everything.
New issues of Sandman: Overture will be published every two months for a year, and I think this is a series you might enjoy serially, picking up in comics shops on a regular basis. I saw firsthand last night that Phoenix Comics has plenty of copies, but I'm sure that every other comics store in Seattle will have them, too, from Zanadu downtown to the Comic Stop, The Dreaming, and Comics Dungeon around the U District, on out to Arcane Comics and Dreamstrands Comics up north. (There are probably others that I forgot, too. You can check out the Comic Shop Locator for comprehensive information about all the shops near you.) This comic is worth the trip.