The Dreaming #1
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Bilquis Evely
Colourist: Mat Lopes
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Created by Neil Gaiman
A review by Stephanie Pouliotte
The Dreaming is fragmented, the shards reflecting inward onto a kingdom that is without a ruler… again. This time however, it appears the King of Dreams has discarded his post of his own will, and in his stead, a distraught librarian is left to contend with the breaking of the realm. Whether Daniel’s absence after his appearance in Dark Nights: Metal is tied to the fate of the Dreaming remains to be seen, but the void he left has once again set the wheels of change turning. Is the Dreaming becoming a nightmare from which its denizens may never wake? Or perhaps waking is the nightmare.
The Dreaming is the thread that runs through all the storylines from The Sandman Universe, so it makes sense for it to be the first to hit the shelves. It’s also a bit heavy on the metanarrative, but that’s to be expected for this storyline. The Sandman Universe one-shot showed us that this comic book lineup has the potential to be as strong and compelling as Neil Gaiman’s original run back in the 90s. That being said, it was penned by Gaiman himself. It’s only natural that it was up to standard, right? The Dreaming #1 was the first test to see this lineup can keep the creative momentum going when Gaiman steps back, and let me assure you, it does not disappoint.
Spurrier not only seizes onto the spirit of the characters, but builds upon it, revealing through subtle cues that whatever is affecting the dreaming will change them all. Lucien, with the wise cracking Matthew at his side, takes the lead, acting as both narrator and player in this “tale born of loss”. His narration does go on at times, but I personally enjoy this kind of wistful soliloquy and it’s certainly reminiscent of the original series. But it’s Dora, with her tenacious, no-nonsense attitude, who propels the story forward, leading chaos in right through the back door. I absolutely can’t wait to find out more about her mysterious abilities and how they relate to the Dream King, because as much as she says she can’t stand the Dreaming or its inhabitants, she fits in their world as though she were born of it.
Bilquis Evely has created wonders on the page. Her rendition of he Dreaming is whimsical and as sharp as glass. Her full page spread of Balam, Duke of Hell is especially striking in its radiant, yet terrible beauty. Though credit also goes to Mat Lopes for breathing fire into flesh and highlighting small moments with a simple charm. There’s one panel where Dora stands alone in her home, and even though it isn’t particularly exciting, the moment is significant in its own way. Lopes frames her with baubles of orange and yellow lights, and the colouring is what makes this panel so quietly captivating.
Verdict: Buy it!
The Dreaming #1 marks yet another beginning in the Sandman Universe, and it’s a beginning you won’t want to miss. Though huge events are par for the course in comics these days, I don’t think we’ve seen anything quite like this lineup. Next up will be House of Whispers #1 out on September 12.