The Dreaming #5 – Simon Spurrier, Writer; Bilquis Evely, Abigail Larson, Artists; Mat Lopes, Quinton Winter, Colorists
Ray – 9/10
Ray: The first arc of The Dreaming concludes in epic fashion in The Dreaming #5, as the series commits to its new direction. I’ve heard complaints that this new take on Neil Gaiman’s characters takes on too much of a blockbuster tone, throwing everything at the screen in its first arc. I don’t think that’s entirely wrong – this series often takes on the tone of something like Justice League Dark – but it’s executed so well that it really doesn’t matter.
The narrative is split into two this issue, with Merv Pumpkinhead and his allies battling to take back the Dreaming from Judge Gallows, while Lucien and the mysterious Dora go on a quest to bring Daniel back to his realm before it completely collapses. The former story is the less compelling of the three, but only slightly – Judge Gallows makes a formidable villain, and Merv as an antihero is fascinating. He’s confronted with his past sins this issue, and I also like the little details involving other characters like Cain and Abel.
But it’s Lucien and Dora’s quest that really stands out in this issue. Bilquis Evely and guest artist Abigail Larson do a lot with a little here – capturing the eerie emptiness of the realms they’re traveling through. This is not the first time Dream has been absent, and not the first time the Dreaming has unraveled, which informs a pretty great double-page spread.
Dora’s true nature has been hanging over the series since the beginning, and this issue gives us some major clues – she has encountered dream before, and they may have some sort of twisted deal/bargain between them. As good as her story is, it’s the last few pages of the issue that really take it to the next level. As one character seemingly makes a major sacrifice, Lucien finally comes face to face with Daniel in a cryptic segment that may be their last encounter. I’m not 100% sure if it’s a true successor to Sandman, but as a sequel to what Scott Snyder set up in Dark Nights: Metal, this is a great story.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.