Review - Bad Dreams #1

"Mary has just awoken in an unfamiliar world..."

Bad dreams have a way of staying with us. Even long after you've woken up, there are still aspects of some dreams that just haunt you for the remainder of the day. If there was a way to venture into those dreams and fight through them, things may be a tad more bearable. Venturing into a dream as an adventure is one step better and occurs in Bad Dreams #1 from Red 5 Comics. Bad Dreams #1 is written and illustrated by Gary Winnick.

Nimrod, Spide and Sir Spanks the Insistant join Mary on a mission for Mother Night. Mother Night had something taken from her that's subsequently imprisoned her in a tower and prevented nightfall from falling over the aforementioned unfamiliar world. Alas, a journey for a key wouldn't be simple enough, as there are other forces at play seeking to prevent Mary from accomplishing her mission. As with every adventure, the travelers need some obstacles and Bad Dreams promises to throw those at the merry band in spades it would seem.

Winnick started at LucasArts and co-designed Maniac Mansion and Bad Dreams has that sensibility to it. It's very much an RPG comic in a way, in that the characters are clearly established and objects are given to them that unlock the next part of the story. Take this token, use this compass...these are tools to advance the story and makes it feel like a comic book of Maniac Mansion to an extent. Winnick leaves the actual treasure being searched for as something of a mystery, giving the reader just enough to know what they're reading. The dialogue is pretty simplistic and Winnick relies on the reader drawing upon their knowledge of the general format of the plot (a la Wizard of Oz) to move them along.

Winnick's art is very fantastical, thrusting the reader smackdab in the middle of a strange new world. Nimrod embodies the dark unknown, Spide is deceivingly strong and Spanks is equal parts feisty and helpful. Winnick illustrates them all with bold white outlines and black infill, keeping with the concept of a bad dream. Mary feels a little cartoonish herself especially when put next to Mother Night and Winnick uses a style for all humans that's very similar. The panel layout is pretty formulaic and boasts a wide array of staggered rectangles and insets with more attention paid to the characters than the settings.

Bad Dreams #1 has all-ages appeal and is setting up to be a rather lighthearted adventure. It's shaping up to feel like you're reading Maniac Mansion, albeit about 30 years later and with less Purple Tentacle. The plot is simple enough to follow and the art is somewhat cartoonish in appearance. Winnick is clearly having fun with the book and wants the reader to enjoy reading it, both feats accomplished in the first issue. The best way to ensure your copy of Bad Dreams this spring is to pre-order it before February 28 from your comic shop using order code FEB141419. Bad Dreams #1 is set for release on April 23, 2014, as the first in a five-issue series. Check out the interiors below.