Morpheus’ first appearance in THE SANDMAN #1 was that of an exhausted man, caught in a magical circle. The year was 1916. In trying to capture Death, Roderick Burgess performed a ritual and chanted in the darkness “Coin and Song, Knife and Stick… Claw and Name, Blood and Feather,” capturing none other than: The Dream King.
But how did Morpheus - one of the most powerful of The Endless - come to be so weak, so broken, that he succumbed to a spell and was held captive for 70 years?
Part of the answer, a hint of it, has been in front of readers for decades. When Neil Gaiman announced via video from Comic-Con International San Diego 2012 that he would be writing what is now THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE, he referenced two passages that allude to the state of Morpheus at that moment and the events that led up to his captivity.
The first is in a passage printed in the beginning of THE SANDMAN Vol. 2: THE DOLL’S HOUSE. 'Did Burgess know, then, what he had got? Did he guess at the forces that had already weakened Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams; that Burgess’s Chant of Summoning had proved the final straw to Someone----Something----already tried almost beyond endurance?' See the full page of text in the gallery above.
The other is a single panel, from Chapter 7 of THE SANDMAN Vol. 7: BRIEF LIVES, which shows Morpheus with his helm, cloak, ruby and pouch. Destiny has been flipping through his book, and catches a glimpse of Morpheus. As Morpheus flies across the galaxy, ‘old voices call to him, and he awakes in a glass prison in a deep cellar.’ Take a look at the panel, and see what Destiny saw, but was unable to stop from happening.
Gaiman says, “You never found out what was happening in that far galaxy and what his triumph of a kind was and why he was tried almost beyond endurance.” His motivation for THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE is to “explain what Morpheus had been doing before THE SANDMAN #1 began.”
“I’m thrilled, I’m excited, this has been an incredibly long time coming,” Gaiman continued. “It was one of the few stories that actually felt, when I finished THE SANDMAN, like I had failed because I had not told this story.”
So get ready to read THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE #1, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by J.H. Williams III, when it hits shelves on October 30th!
Also included in the gallery is a preview from THE SANDMAN #1 where Burgess performs the Rite of Summoning ceremony in the basement of his manor house and cages Morpheus on Earth. The story of THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE leads right up this moment!