Friday, May 2, 2014

Review - Dream Police #1

"'re up."

Everyone at point or another has a dream that they remember and sticks with them for some reason. How we react to the content of those dreams upon waking varies based on the dream itself. It's good to know though that there those within our dreams fighting to keep us safe and our dreams in order. They are the Dream Police in the aptly titled Dream Police #1 from Image Comics. The book is written by J. Michael Straczynski, illustrated by Sid Kotian, colored by Bill Farmer and lettered by Troy Peteri.

Dreamscape is the world inhabited by people dreaming. Because it's a mixing pot, there's the need for some level of policing, which is what Detective Joe Thursday and his partner Frank Stafford provide. The two of them navigate the streets to find the dreamers, while avoiding the Shapers, Makes and Architects. There's seemingly more to Dreamscape than just people freaking about killing their cats and Detective Thursday is a little too keen to not think otherwise.

Dreamscape is in the midst of an entire universe and Straczynski is going to great lengths to get that universe up and running. He drops the reader right in the thick of things and there's a lot to absorb, but a lot of it's pretty intuitive to anyone who's ever dreamed before. There's a surreal feel to the world that Straczynski is trying to tap into and he does to an extent, but at times the world feels a little more procedural than imaginative. That structure is drawn from the way Detective Thursday narrates the work, although it's almost as if Straczynski is trying to corral in the dream world for the sake of story. The beauty of dreams is that they often make very little sense, so Straczynski's approach with the somewhat cheesy dialogue feels a little forced. There is some nice symmetry between the start and end of the book that further enforces the heady themes Straczynski is trying to tap into.

As if often the case in dreams, things look a little odd at times. Kotian does a great job blending together the "reality" of events occurring in Dreamscape and the "fiction" that are the dreams themselves. Thursday and Stafford look convincing enough as detectives and there's all manner of other madness throughout that underscores the type of world that Dreamscape is. The Nightmares in Dreamscape are really good at what they do, as Kotian illustrates them with gentlemanly sensibilities that belie their true role in the world. There's also a lot of changing landscapes, which makes a few of the pages feel like "spot the difference" pages.

Dreaming is one of those subjects like time travel that require a somewhat delicate touch because they're chock full of philosophy and symbolism. Dream Police #1 is somewhat ambitious in this regard, as it seems to be tugging at threads that indicate things aren't exactly as simple as they appear, even in Dreamscape. Straczynski's story is pretty strong when it comes to the universe being built, but feels a little week with the familiar dialogue and tone. Kotian's illustrations are an appropriate fit for the story itself, with some interesting interpretations of what living inside a dream is really like. At times, the book feels like Dark City in some ways, which gives you some indication of what to expect.

Dream Police #1 is available now with interiors below.


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