The best news to come out of the early days of Comic-Con International: San Diego 2012 was, by far, the announcement that the legendary Neil Gaiman is returning to Sandman — the character that made Neil’s bones in the industry — with a brand-new story to be drawn by J.H. Williams III.
The tale — which will appear in November 2013 — will be a prequel that explains what happened just before the original Vertigo series The Sandman kicked off waaaaay back in November 1988. Neil himself said:
“When I finished writing The Sandman, there was one tale still untold. The story of what had happened to Morpheus to allow him to be so easily captured in The Sandman #1, and why he was returned from far away, exhausted beyond imagining, and dressed for war.”
The picture here is the teaser bit of art J.H. did to promote the project. It’s offbeat, and I think I like it. (One thing about Morpheus: His appearance does tend to… well, morph…) BTW, November 2013 marks the 25th anniversary of The Sandman No. 1, so that’s auspicious timing.
Neil himself appeared at DC Comics’ Vertigo panel via prerecorded message:
(The cool extra treat in that vid is listening to Neil do a reading of Sandman material!)
I totally buy Neil’s reasoning for doing a prequel; it’s not a cynical money-grab, it’s not an attempt to fill a tiny gap in the series with an overblown miniseries; it’s a story that genuinely needs to be told. This is legit, folks.
So, even though this story is very much the opposite of the cynical “Before Watchmen,” I can’t help wondering if Neil isn’t doing this to head off any possible “Before Sandman” series, in which a bunch of other creators would make up “official” backstories for all of the Endless… I shudder to think about that.