Story: Simon Spurrier
Art: Matias Bergara
Letterer: Simon Bowland
What They Say:
To learn the truth about who she really is, and settle a debt most infernal, Dora must play a game with herself, and triumph in a contest of strategy against the demon Flauros, Hell’s wiliest mind. Oh, and did we mention that demons always cheat? Featuring stunning guest art by Eisner Award nominee Matías Bergara (Coda).
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
With a standalone installment the last time around that was pretty decent and fun, The Dreaming gets back on track with its main story here. Simon Spurrier has had me struggling at times with the book and its more verbose ways but this one eases off on it just enough and with more standard lettering so that I can engage with it better. We also get a guest artist for this installment, a series where it can work better than a lot of others, and especially with someone as talented as Matias Bergara. I love his character design work here in general and the layouts but it was his work with Flauros that really stood out for me, particularly with that last page and just the color design for it.
Dora’s attempt to find out who did all of this to her and who she really is has her playing some very dangerous games, which reinforces the importance of finding out. With this issue, she uses the spells that she has access to in order to summon Flauros from Hell in order to run a game against him to get the information she needs. Flauros won’t really deal with her since she doesn’t have a soul but she does have Balam in her reach and can use him with some subtle egging on as she knows that Flauros will want to play a game. Gambling is always up a demon’s alley and she’s got all the right manipulations in play. Flauros, naturally, picks a sprawling game involving his legions that’s basically a competitive race with each of them controlling a side. It’s a visually great layout and one that has Dora at a disadvantage.
The game itself plays out violently enough along the way but I love how we get Dora getting an hour between moves in order to figure the game out, which she uses to zip out of this dimensional spot in order to work with. That she’s running a bigger scam is something that Flauros is oblivious to but readers should get it easily enough considering what she’s done since we’ve been introduced to her. It plays out beautifully with all the right tweaks and emotions for all involved and it shows the bigger thinking going on with her in order to achieve her goal. It’s also one that while singularly focused with her own goal is something that she can utilize in order to help others along the way, which makes it an even better victory in the end.
As I struggle with this series in different places and at different times, when it’s firing on all cylinders its fantastic. The story here is pretty basic and a familiar gambit but the execution is spectacular. It’s nudged up in the grading side because Matias Bergara does such an excellent job with it that I was glad I bought it digitally so I could zoom in and really look at all the details and color design. I’m excited by seeing Dora now ready to move forward in full with a target in mind but there are going to be complications with it, as expected. And getting to see how she manipulates events to get there just made for a really engaging installment as the curtain is pulled back.
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Vertigo Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: October 2nd, 2019