Group Review: Dream Thief #1

It’s not something that happens in comics often, but two books with “dream” in the title were released this week and as a group we tackled both of them for review. The writers of Comic Bastards will each give their thoughts on the issue and then give it a score ranging from: Buy, Borrow or Pass. First here’s a blurb about the issue from Dark Horse: After stealing an Aboriginal mask from a museum, John Lincoln realizes that the spirits of the vengeful dead are possessing his body and mind while he sleeps! His old problems have been replaced by bloody hands and the disposal of bodies—and now remembering where he spent last night has never been more important!

Steve: Buy

It’s still early days, but I am enjoying the crud out of Dream Thief so far. At first glance, this book may, oddly, have a similar-sounding premise to that of The Mask: lovable loser dons mysterious ancient mask, gains (in this case, as yet unspecified) powers, loses inhibitions and indiscriminately kills fools, having only a vague, yet intense recollection after coming-to. Dream Thief, however, is a hugely different animal; almost darker and with a deeper burrow. I love, for example, how the main character’s apathy for life transforms, with the aid of Aboriginal “hoodoo” ... or possibly just a bad batch of weed, into one for death. At the same time, this story is told with no small amount of charm.

Writer Jai Nitz proves especially capable in negotiating through the tense twist of a man who continues waking up in a strange mask, and pools of sinners’ blood, by injecting his story with a natural, disarming humor and relationships, which, while complex, never feel forced. These mellow moments work beautifully in contrast against the surprises within this book, sometimes even crashing together, as was the case in the reveal of the background behind its unseen backup narrator. The art from Greg Smallwood, particularly in the subtle yet powerful expressiveness he is able to convey on the faces of his characters, is downright impressive, and works so amazingly well with the story. Altogether, Dream Thief #1 is a hugely intriguing setup, the depths of which I very much look forward to plundering.

Sergio: Buy

Dream Thief was not at all what I was expecting, especially since the cover shows the main character dressed up like a WWF wrestler from the 80s. The writing was great and I really liked the split narration between the letter from Johnny's father and Johnny's inner thoughts. The art reminded me of the most recent Hawkeye series, which I'm a pretty big fan of, the detail in each panel is subtle but it works well with the story. At first you take Johnny to be some sort late twenties party boy who never left the frat house but when he has the mask he becomes a gun wielding bad ass who kills people to settle the score for the innocent. Overall great book and I'm excited to see where the next four issues take us.

Dream Thief #1 Cover

Carl: Pass

Is that the wrestler Sting on the cover descending from the rafters to wreak havoc on the NOW?  Nope, this comic isn’t anywhere near as cool as that.

Alex Ross did the cover for this book.  Don’t be fooled by his talent because the cover is the only place where you will get any enjoyment of the book.

The art inside looks average for a Dark Horse comic.  One different element added was the tiny icons included to indicate things like an internet upvote when a woman shows approval for a good-looking guy or a fluorescent dollar sign and glowing marijuana leaf represented in a drug deal.

That’s different, but why couldn’t it just be properly illustrated without the gimmicky icons?

The story involves a hero who cheats on his woman, smoked pot, and kills people.  I could spend time reading Reddit if I wanted to be bored in this way.

Dustin: Buy

This issue didn’t turn out the way I thought it would that’s for sure. Not that I was expecting to dislike it, but I thought I would like it for different reasons. The narrative at the beginning with the dad, definitely started a page too soon, but I knew what was happening with it and the pay off at the end was worth it. The overall story was pretty fucking crazy, but the crazy it became… the more it held my interest. This was definitely a strong first issue, but I have a feeling that the second issue is actually going to be better. The art was a great fit for the story and really set the tone for the story.

Score: Buy!

Writer: Jai Nitz Artist: Greg Smallwood Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/15/13