Story: Simon Spurrier
Art: Bilquis Evely
Colors; Mat Lopes
Letterer: Simon Bowland
What They Say:
A lost dream has returned to the Dreaming to rally the troops against the rule of Wan-but without Dream himself, do his subjects have the strength they need to prevail? Or has the unconsciousness of humankind already been changed forever?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
There are days I hate the collector-isms that I picked up as a young comic book fan going back to the 80s. “Complete the run,” my mind says as I go through the last few issues of this incarnation of The Dreaming. Even as the book, beautiful as it looks under Bilquis Evely’s designs, pushes me further and further away. The series has had a lot of strong moments to it but the sprawling nature of the plot at times combined with lettering that drives me bonkers in trying to be legible has made the book a chore. And there are times where a book is a chore and that’s fine because you can see how it all comes together. The Dreaming, however, just leaves me more and more frustrated with each page because it’s playing in one of my absolute favorite places and I can’t be a part of it.
The general idea with this installment is that, after building toward this over the course of the run as a whole, we now have Lucien coming back and delivering a whole lot of exposition. The bulk of the book is exposition, which is fine in general with a Sandman book. And it plays with it through the narration that he employs which Wan is aware of but isn’t able to pin down at first because the book has become quite meta along the way. Lucien’s taking control doesn’t feel out of place, especially with how he’s struggled in this book as a whole, and his role in general is one that makes it feel ideal to shift into the storyteller in order to be the caretaker. Lucien’s also able to really exert a lot of control because of the device in which the narrator is the ultimate arbiter of what can happen in the story, though that gets played with from time to time in other mediums.
What’s key in this issue, however, is that we see how everything has been transformed in the Dreaming going back to when Dream was first captured in the opening of the original series. Delving into how he prepared to deal with such an eventually being tried again, or some other flavor that would leave the place lordless, the reveal of how the main characters are actually aspects of Dream now, able to keep things running by working together, is a really nice idea. It decentralizes it in a way and provides new avenues for storytelling but it also does the thing that some fans will lament in that it really does keep the Dream we spent years reading about away from everything and inaccessible.
While the book offers up some interesting ideas it also comes at a point where I’ve really struggled hard over the last few issues to even get past the lettering in the book in order to understand what’s going on. We’ve had some great artwork throughout the run and this issue is no exception but it’s also piling up close to that realm where so much is going on that it’s all becoming noise at this point. There are pieces that I like but the flow of it as a whole simply leaves me anxious to see it done so I can close out this chapter of it and lament for the lack of Dreaming that will be in my life.
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: DC Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: March 4th, 2020