Comic book readers were confused Wednesday morning upon entering their local comic book stores and finding a strange comics called Sandman Overture #2 on the shelves. The book, written by Neil Gaiman with art by J.H. Williams III, is a fine comic with beautiful art, but readers universally report no recollection of any comic called Sandman Overture #1, at least in recent memory, leading to questions about why a brand new comic series, at least as far as anyone can remember, would start up from issue #2.
"I love Sandman," said Donald Ball, a reader. "So I was really psyched when I saw this in my shop, even though I was surprised that the first issue of an exciting new series like this could come out without me knowing about it." According to Ball, he asked his retailer to help him acquire a copy of the first issue of the series, but the retailer was just as baffled as everyone else, straining his memory to remember any time in the recent past when a first issue might have come out, to no avail.
"I feel like maybe, on the distant edges of my memory, there's an inkling of an idea that there was once a Sandman Overture series," said Johanna McLendon, a reader who describes herself as a huge fan of artist J.H. WIlliams III. "But I guess it's something like deja vu, you know? It's just my mind playing tricks on me. If the first issue of this comic came out in any reasonable time frame in relation to this second issue, I would definitely remember it."
The Outhouse reached out to Diamond Comics Distributors to find out if they could recall shipping the first issue, but a representative informed us that, if they ever did ship the comic, their records from that time period must predate computer systems and it might take a while to locate them. Likewise, no one at publisher DC Comics was able to provide any information on Sandman Overture comics earlier than today's Sandman Overture #2, leading us to conclude that a first issue must simply not exist.
This isn't the first time a comic has appeared, seemingly with no precedent, at least that anyone could remember. Other examples include: Daredevil Father #6, Planetary #28, Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #3, and Spider-Man and Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do #4. For further insight, The Outhouse consulted noted historian and professor of ancient comic book studies at the prestigious University of Phoenix, Thaddeus T. Puffinbottoms.
"Sandman Overture... Sandman Overture..." Professor Puffinbottoms mumbled as he racked his brain for any memories of the strange series. "Ah yes, I think I remember something!"
Puffinbottoms beckoned us to follow him as he led us through a labyrinth of tall bookshelves filled with historical comics reference texts. We arrived at the end of an aisle filled with particularly decrepit texts, where Puffinbottoms ran his finger along a row of ancient-looking volumes. He selected one extremely musty book, pulled it off the shelf and plopped it on a nearby table, sending up a thick cloud of dust. The title of the book, written in an archaic version of middle-English, read: Ye Olde Diamonde Commicks Pre-Views, Month of November in the Year of Our Lorde 2013.
"Here we are!" Puffinbottoms chirped. "Sandman Overture #1 was a comic by Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III that was released a long, long time ago. I suppose this new issue is some kind of tribute to that, like when Dynamite publishes all those Flash Gordon comics."
So it looks like The Outhouse has solved the mystery. No word on whether there will ever be a Sandman Overture #3, but if there is, we hope our descendants have an easier time figuring out where it came from than we did.