Group Review: The Dream Merchant #1

Welcome to one of two group reviews this week involving dreams!... or at least they both have “dream” in the title. If you’re unfamiliar with Nathan Edmondson’s work then I would highly recommend you check out his tag at the bottom for a reference, but he’s definitely legit. The writers of Comic Bastards have teamed up and given their thoughts on this issue and each one of them will give it a score of: Buy, Borrow or Pass. Before we begin here’s a blurb from Image and then the reviews: A double-size issue of The Dream Merchant kicks off a new sci-fi series from Nathan Edmondson and newcomer Konstantin Novosadov. Haunted by recurring dreams, a boy named Winslow is hunted by mysterious beings and protected by an old traveler. Soon Winslow will realize that what is in his dreams is what the rest of the world has been made to forget--and what strange entities will stop at nothing to erase from his mind.

Dustin: Buy

I still can’t get over how fantastic the art style is for this book. I absolutely love the art and maybe that’s just me, but I dig it. It had a look that reminded me of some popular web-comics, but also would have fit in with Oni Press as well. The story has a lot to set up and I can see some people being a bit bored or just not buying into because of that. The thing is, I found it fascinating and loved the slow build. There’s going to be a love story and that’s great because it reminded me of a manga in that regards. I enjoyed the fact that while the dream aspect is always there, the main character didn’t have all the answers or know what to do with it. It’s a great change of pace to the usual “chosen one” style of tale. I think that this is quite adventurous for Edmondson and while I’m not sure everyone is going to jump on board, I like it a lot and can’t wait to see what the next issue has in store for use.

Steve: Borrow

I don’t dislike Dream Merchant, I really don’t. I just didn’t really get much from it. The story, which follows our main character Winslow’s lifelong obsession over and now escape from his one recurring dream, is actually pretty decent, as is Winslow’s run-ins with some pretty pissed-off Freddy Kruger Dementors and the titular sleep shaman mentor. The thing is, parts of the art and story just feel too ... simple to me. Suspensions of disbelief notwithstanding, I’m not sure I can accept how easy it was for the kids to escape a mental health facility, nor how quickly our hero’s damsel - herself a juvenile delinquent - accepts being attacked by dream monsters. All of this might have something to do with Dream Merchant’s long-game plans, but if so, then it’s already showing some telling narrative cracks.

I also get that these are small complaints, but in a story that doesn’t show much in the way of an unambiguous threat, it makes it harder to get into. The art, too, ain’t half bad, but it is, like its story, simple, just “okay.” And I guess that’s the problem: even though a book about the power of dreams should immediately draw me in, Dream Merchant instead leaves me feeling kind of lukewarm. Check it out if you have a minute, but I think this one might work better with more story, as a trade.


Sergio: Pass

It's few and far between but every now and then I read something that comes out from Image and I just can't hop on board. Reading The Dream Merchant was like reading a screen play that Wes Craven wrote for an M. Night Shyamalan movie that was for some reason animated by Disney. The writing was all over the place and the time line moved way too fast, I like a little more character development in the comics I read. I'm a guy who likes cartoons but even I found the art to be a little too cartoony for a story that is supposed to be dark. The only awesome thing about this book is the price tag; you get a lot of book for $3.50 where most other publishers would stick a price of $4.99 for 52 pages.

Samantha: Buy

This comic is pretty bad ass. If my dreams turned out to be the only living memory of what earth used to be that means I would be protecting leprechauns from floating ships. Interesting world. Anyway, we don’t get much of what these Regulators want the world to forget, so my mind is racing with ideas. The story has developed nicely in only one issue. It moves at a fast pace and really answers some immediate questions, which I enjoyed.

The art is sweet too and really captures the movements of the Grimm Reaper look-alikes. The colors are trippy, so I felt like I couldn’t distinguish reality either when reading it.

I am a little nervous to go to bed tonight and realize that I am not safe in my own dreams but the story captures our excitement for dreams. Also, for $3.50 you can get a double issue of this amazing comic. That is why this is a “buy” for me.

Carl: Buy

Winslow had issues at night.  No, he’s not waking up stuck to the sheets like many young men his age.  He’s chased by hooded figures that look to do something mean and nasty to our protagonist.

The art in the book handles the imaginative nature of the writing better than can be hoped for.  The image of the Dream Merchant rising from the covered wagon and having the canvas form his robes needs to be seen to be fully appreciated.

I say make this book a definite buy because this comic captures the spirit of dreams and imagination in all the right ways.

Score: Mixed Bag of Mostly Buys!

Writer: Nathan Edmondson Artist: Konstantin Novosadov Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 5/15/13