Bedtime Games #4
Writer: Nick Keller
Artist: Conor Nolan
Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letterer: John J. Hill
Publisher: Dark Horse
Review by Frank Lanza
Creepy clowns man. Those damn guys just get to me. I’m an old school horror vet too and not much phases me anymore, but a good creepy clown gets me every time. Bedtime Games #4 opens with a great shot of a creepy clown and that first panel gave me great hope that this first arc would end with a spooky bang. It definitely ended with a bang of some kind, but the spooks and creeps weren’t exactly all there. So what didn’t go bump in the night? Come and see kiddos!
As I said, this issue opens with some great imagery. The gang (Avery, Owen, and Jamie) is all here and held hostage by Mr. Bedtime’s nightmare menagerie. Now that he’s recovered the Bedtime Games spellbook and recovered the final page to summon his nightmares into the adult world from the ailing Charlie, all that remains is to ink his evil desires into the book and bring damnation into the imagination-less world of the grown-ups. Tough as nails, Avery summons her courage at every turn to foil him. As this is the final issue of the arc (maybe the series?), I won’t give much away from the back half of the book. Suffice it to say, that in order for good to prevail, some have to die and some have to sacrifice to wrest the control of the nightmares away from the nefarious (and kinda goofy) Mr. Bedtime.
Ok, with the plot summary out of the way, I can get to the guts of this book. Or lack thereof. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine book and a fairly entertaining read. Keller really rifs a good Joe Hill game, and this entire series read like the beginnings of a Locke & Key-esque series, but it really petered out at the end. I don’t know if this is because the arc needed to end to move our heroes to the next phase or their relationship, or if the series was cut short in production, but this issue definitely felt rushed. From the handling of Mr. Bedtime, to the resolution of many of the subplots, it all seemed to be thrown together for this final issue. I could have definitely seen this go to a 6-issues series to really draw out the dangerous plans Mr. Bedtime was cooking up with Bedtime Games. Even the explanations of his motivation, origins, and the Bedtime Games book itself felt shorted. I get the feeling Keller has a ton of backstory yet to reveal and could have used another issue or two to draw us along.
On the art chores, Nolan turns in another fine issue. Similar to the story, the first half of the book looked a little rushed in comparison to his work on the previous three issues. However, I still enjoy the hell out of his work. His style is so great; it’s like a combination of Kyle Hotz and Dr. Seuss. And I mean this in the most complimentary of way: Hotz was fantastic in his Evil Ernie days and his linework has the whimsy and flow of many a Dr. Suess dream (or nightmare). Fitzpatrick’s colors were vivid and highlighted the gore when necessary, but in the dark and subdued panels things muddied down a bit. Overall though, the art team turned in a fantastic arc here.
Verdict: Skip it!
It pains me a little to deliver this recommendation, but if this is the final issue of the arc, or the final issue period, I can’t see myself buying another issue past Bedtime Games #4. If I were reviewing issue #3 I’d have said Wait and See, but knowing the resolution and the rushed pace of this final issue, I’m disappointed that we didn’t get more out of the fun concept and universe that Keller seems to be building. Maybe a second arc will improve and surpass this first, but the final chapter here didn’t give me much hope of that happening. Too many great opportunities to flesh out a fun villain and practically zero importance placed on the titular Bedtime Games soured me on anything further.