THE DREAMING / CEMETERY BEACH [Comic Reviews]: Tall, Dark and…
Happy Wednesday, geeks and geekettes! Not that we’ve overlooked these two titles, but they deserved a whole look all on their own. We’ve got two esteemed writers taking fresh looks at some of the freshest, weirdest (in a good way) books coming out from two of the best writers in the genre. So sneak a peek at this quick one-two review punch…
Has it really been 30 years since Neil Gaiman‘s epic take on DC’s Sandman character first turned the comics world on its ear? Well, it has. It perhaps doesn’t feel that way, due to the sporadic nature of the character’s publishing: after the initial volume’s run, we have been treated to spin-off after spin-off, and one tantalizing prequel run, but the actual presence of the main characters from The Sandman canon has been somewhat sparse and lacking from both DC’s publishing schedule, and from DC’s broader published multiverse itself. But all that changed just recently… Yes, following the cataclysmic and multiverse shattering events of Dark Knights: Metal, the Dreaming gets the focus once more, and is, again, inextricably linked to the main DC universe both through the characters respective JSA and JLA lineages (and we still remember Infinity, Inc yo) -– and through the shattered multiversal source wall. High concept stuff. Still with us? And now, to coincide with and commemorate this 30 year anniversary of all things The Sandman, DC have launched The Sandman Universe event with a new line of titles, which brings us to The Dreaming #1, reuniting us with old favourites Lucien the Librarian, Matthew the Raven, and Mervyn Pumkinhead the….actually I have never been sure what his role is exactly, but he’s cool.
The Dreaming #1 opens on a distressed Lucien narrating away a litany of problems that have arisen in the realm since the departure of its ruler Dream, and a search party must soon be mounted before the realm’s enemies realize the Dreaming lies unprotected. Meanwhile, of all the denizens of the realm, only Dora can pass between other worlds on her own, and she seems intent on causing trouble. Added to that, another gap between the worlds has opened, and an invasion of blank, faceless humanoid forms looms. But where are they coming from? And why are they fleeing? All is not as it seems in the dreaming – and it already seems quite crazy.
The welcome return of the namesake title The Dreaming, and the world it contains, has been lovingly recreated, redrafted, and rebooted through the Gaiman-tinged writing of long-time 2000AD scribe, and X-Force since-it-got-really-good alumni, Simon Spurrier (X-Men: Legacy, Lobster Random), who has no trouble at all balancing the myriad of delicate plot points and characters once again left spinning like tops in the wake of their master’s disappearance. The detailed and joyous fantasy-comic–with a hint of pulp/romance–artwork of the talented and new(ish) Bilquis Everly (Doc Savage, Wonder Woman) evokes not just the original The Sandman and The Dreaming moods quite endearingly, but it will also be (lying) catnip to the Saga fans amongst you.
This is a very simple recommendation to make: anyone who ever wanted more of the Sandman universe or the title The Dreaming: here it is. And it’s every bit as good as it ever was. However, anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about so insufferably: this book is a perfect first introduction, and soon you can babble insufferably about Sandman too. Buy The Dreaming #1. 4.5/5 Holy Texts.
One hundred years ago, a super secret off-world colony was created and populated. Now, someone is trying to break out. Based on the name alone, I was expecting a horror comic, which is, of course, my favorite genre. Instead, I got sucked into a awesome action comic, and I’m not at all sorry about it. From Warren Ellis (Hellblazer, Trees) and Jason Howard (Trees, The Astounding Wolf-Man) comes an excellent initial offering. Ellis’s storytelling dumps the reader right into the thick of things, and sets up an enjoyable tone — snarky, fun dialogue and enough set-up that you know a much bigger story is lurking under the surface.
Howard’s art is left to shine in many of she scenes as dialogue takes a backseat to his strong visuals. If his art isn’t your style, this might be the biggest detractor from fully enjoying the book, but if you’re into it, this title is one of the must-haves of the season. By the last page of Cemetery Beach #1, I was already wishing #2 was out so I could continue the adventure and find out where it’s all going to lead. 4/5 Bibles.