The Dreaming #1 – Simon Spurrier, Writer; Bilquis Evely, Artist; Mat Lopes, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: Coming off the epic, four-part debut issue The Sandman Universe #1, The Dreaming #1 continues the central plot of this new line – namely, that the new Dream, Daniel, is missing.
We last saw Daniel in Dark Nights: Metal as he left his realm to briefly advise Batman, but his whereabouts since then are unknown. His departure has left the realm in complete chaos, and misfit residents of The Dreaming ranging from Lucien the librarian, Matthew the Raven, and the colorfully coarse Merv Pumpkinhead are doing their best to maintain order.
In many ways, this issue feels a lot like the next issue after the end of the original Sandman series, and that’s a compliment to Simon Spurrier’s dense plotting and Bilquis Evely’s dreamlike, fantastical artwork. Complicating the chaos in the Dreaming is the presence of Dora – not the explorer, although she does a lot of exploring. This mysterious foreigner to the land of the Dreaming is able to travel between realms at will and seems to have a unique connection to a mysterious race of faceless creatures that have come out of the rifts that are erupting as the realm collapses.
Dora’s ability to walk the realms leads her to all sorts of bizarre and unpredictable places – including a hellish realm populated by the mysterious Balum, a demonic being who rides a massive bear. While he seems like a threat at first, it becomes clear that he and Dora have a complex and passionate relationship that results in some of the issue’s most disturbing scenes.
This is definitely not a book for kids, keeping in line with the tone of the original Vertigo title and using mature content only when needed. The brief reveal of Dora’s true form only raises more questions for readers. This is partly a cerebral book that wants you to savor it, but it’s also a lot more action-packed than past incarnations. Balum’s invasion doesn’t feel out of place for a book like Demon Knights. However, the surprise appearance at the end of the issue – and who’s behind the mask – help to establish our two main point-of-view characters going forward.
This is a fascinating, experimental book that has the Sandman Universe line off to a great start. Can’t wait to see how future books in the line build on these ideas.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.