By Kelly Gaines
Welcome back to 1986- the year of the demon video game and painfully slow communication. As of the first issue, Polybius Dreams has set itself up to be the comic version of Stranger Things, mixed with a 1980’s arcade version of Jumanji. While certainly not a boring read, the story is riddled with DeJaVu. We’ve definitely seen all of this before. Polybius Dreams takes off with three young boys, Pat, Paul, and Mike, who only find solace from their bully filled lives at the local arcade. Owned by a woman named Jamie, the shop has recently acquired a new game… MYSTERIOUSLY… that seems to be driving the kids of Autumn Hill NY wild.
Polybius Dreams has a few major pitfalls that kept me from fully investing in the story. First, as the readers, we’re supposed to sympathize with the misfit gamer trio. Apart from their creepy bully (who literally tries to make one of them shit in front of his friends), the kids are dealing with subpar parents of the alcoholic, overly religious, and absent variety. That all sucks, but I still had a difficult time really connecting to all of the boys.
Mike, the unfortunate shitter during the bully attack, rubbed me the wrong way throughout most of the issue. For someone who just narrowly escaped a traumatizing adolescent event, the kid kind of seems like an asshole. He spends a majority of the first issue talking at his friends about his crush on Jamie, and at one point says the line “I just have to hang back and all the cute punk girls will be throwing themselves at me.” Kid, you were just forced to take a dump in front of your friends. You’ve got a long way to go before you should start scheming about picking up cute punk girls. Every line Mike said was irritating to me- and maybe that’s the point, maybe he’s going to get killed off in a few issues- but that added to the frustration of feeling like he did a majority of the talking for the main group in this issue. Nothing really stood out to me about Pat or Paul, but there wasn’t much opportunity for them to shine over Mike.
Backtracking to the rest of the plot, we witness the odd effects the game has on the boys after Jamie lets them come to the arcade after hours to play. Either Pat or Paul (I don’t remember which, like I said, I was very focused on Mike) dreams that night of a spooky reality in which he witnesses a shadowy figure hang itself. The dream is mirrored by the image of the bully who tormented them earlier hanging himself in real time. Now I don't study Oneirology, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the dream and real suicide have something to do with the mysterious video game that Jamie was given way too easily. Nothing about this plot seems very innovative, but I am interested to see how these pieces end up connecting. Will it be A: the game allows players to get revenge on enemies through their dreams, but eventually dooms them to the same fate. B: the game eventually convinces all players to kill themselves/ lures them to their deaths. Or C: It was Colonel Mustard, in the study, with the revolver. Or maybe it will be some fourth thing (and I’m rooting for the fourth thing because that would be a surprise), either way, I could buckle down for a few more issues to see where this goes. I am also very open to it having been Colonel Mustard because I love Clue- the movie, the game, just the whole damn concept- I love it.
is a Goosebumps set up with a Stranger Things delivery but has certainly shown a lot of Polybius Dreams #1potential to be a really fun ride. As of the first issue, I wouldn’t deter any readers from giving it a try. Stranger Things is popular for a reason- there’s something fun about stepping into the far passed yester-years of the 1980’s (which I’m only being semi-sarcastic about because I was born in ‘94 and I actually missed the 80’s), and who doesn’t love a good best friend monster hunt? It’s worth a shot- if not simply to hold you over until Stranger Things season 3.
Polybius Dreams #1
Hypnotic Dog Comics