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The Dream Merchant #3 Review: Give Me a Dream

So you all know I was excited about Image's limited comic The Dream Merchant. I envisioned it as The Matrix meets Sandman. It was a mix of fantasy and Moore-like prose, in a way you don't see too much.

Now we're officially halfway through the run, and the story has shaped itself into what it's going to be. So did it live up? 

Mankind once lived alongside a fantastical world, The Dream Merchant, tells us. Through a series of events, the worlds were seperated and knowledge of the place was taken from us. However, the memories are able to come through in dreams, and our hero is able to work dreams as the residents of the other world do. Maybe. I'm still not 100 percent sure.

So the old man (is he the Dream Merchant?) is teaching Winslow to use the dream world, but it's going slow. To make matter worse, there's an army of monsters preparing to invade our world, and it looks like he's the only one able to stop him.

Novosadov's art is still effective. Again, it's a bit cartoon-ish, but gets the point across while still feeling unique. It's a style, and while every artist has a style, there are many that seem interchangeable.

The strongest aspect of the art remains the use of color. It sets the atmosphere, especially in the dreamscape, and really works with the pencils to make the pages pop. It's not something you see a lot in mainstream books, which is odd as they're such a visual medium.

I don't think The Dream Merchant is a bad comic. I think Nathan Edmonson is a great writer. The problem is, stories like this rely so heavily on its mythology that it HAS to be grand and epic and, yet, somehow, easy to understand. I think that's what hurts The Dream Merchant the most. It's mythology is a little vague and convoluted. It lives one with the feeling of wanting... I dunno... more?

To be fair, if this was a ongoing series I'd give it a pass, but we're already half done. The Refusal of the Call and Training by the Mentor has eaten up almost two whole issues and it's only limiting the innevitable kick ass dream fighting.

However, it's not all bad. The character work is very strong here and the relationships therein are organic and believable. The subplots are deflty woven into the main story in a way that doesn't make them feel shoe horned in. There's real craftsmenship at work here, real talent. It bums me out a little more that it didn't hit all my expectations.

The Dream Merchant
, this issue included, is still a solid read, but this isn't a universal reccomend. IIt straddles an odd line. It's a character study that doesn't hit Sandman levels, and it isn't fantastical action like something you'd see in The Matrix. But who knows, there are still three issues to go, maybe they're set to wow us.

I know I'll be there to find out.



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