Previously: Dream Police #6
After a 4-month hiatus between issue #5 and issue #6, J. Michael Straczynski and Sid Kotian’s Dream Police came back with–frankly–a whimper. As you know, if you read my review of Dream Police #6, that issue was a bit of a disappointment, considering the lengthy wait. A fine continuation, but of a story I–perhaps fittingly–struggled to recall. Between issue #6 and issue #7, I again waited over four months for more Dream Police. I can say, however, this was not a disappointment, at all.
It feels a bit disingenuous to represent my reaction to this issue against the expectation of being disappointed. This issue is not perfect, but it is very good, regardless of my expectations, the waiting time, or any other outside factors. It doesn’t exist in a vacuum, however, and that means I’m going to judge it using all available variables.
Having to wait four months between issues is torture because I do genuinely enjoy this story. Given the recent departure of the amazing C.O.W.L. from Image Comics’ production line, I had feared the worst and was quite pleased to see Dream Police #7 was going to finally see its way to me. Straczynski has not offered any explanation that I’m aware of–nor does he owe me one, in the least–but I’m choosing to hope his work on the fantastic Netflix series Sense8 has slowed down production of Dream Police and maybe it will not get in the way as much for a little while? That is, very much, conjecture and wishful thinking on my part, but it’s possible. What made the wait worth it this time, as opposed to last time with issue #6, is how much this issue furthers the series’ overall plot. If I have to wait four months between issues, I really want those issues to feel like they matter, and this one absolutely does.
Speaking of the plot, it does develop a little slowly here. After a muddled explanation for last issue’s dragon finale and some clunky dialogue between Joe and Kate, a moment that actually feels right out of Finding Nemo gets us back on track. From there, a ton of things happen, and I was left absolutely wishing issue #8 were already available, so I can see just what the hell is going on, who the hell knows what the hell is going on, and how the hell does Joe not know what the hell is going on?! Please don’t tell me I have to wait four months to get more answers… or at least more questions!
I’m sorry; I don’t mean to keep focusing on the four-month wait, but damn, it’s a long-ass time between issues. Although, this issue does feature more terrific artwork from Sid Kotian. We recently read The Private Eye for our Book Club Podcast, and that series is correctly described as “futuristic noir”. Dream Police, on the other hand, is just straight-up noir, and it’s noir done really well. The series also continues its fantastic-fantasy design, with lots of panels full of creepy-as-hell Nightmares. These dudes look like The Cat in the Hat impregnated an Enderman with Houdini’s seed, and it resulted in The Phantom of the Oh-No-You-Didn’t. I mean, all I’m saying is, these things are properly named, am I right? Actually, and not that it matters to anyone but me, when I was a child, I did have a recurring nightmare–as many people do–and that nightmare did–I swear to you–involve me being followed by a man in a black suit, wearing a white mask. What I’m saying is: Straczynski and Kotian owe me both money and therapy to re-repress that lovely memory.
Also included in this issue is a very neat look at a script-to-inks production log for one page of the issue. Not only do we get to read Straczynski’s instructions for the page’s artwork, but we also get to see Kotian’s ink drawing of that page. While a good colorist can really bring a drawing to life–and HiFi is a very good colorist–I love seeing the ink stage of comic artwork, and I hope this is a feature continued in future issues.
Ultimately, this is not only a great continuation of the series’ overall plot, but it also stands on its own with a strong story and fantastic artwork. Other than the weak beginning–which lasts, literally, just a few panels–the only real complaint I have about this serves more as a declaration of fear. A few decades ago, the question was asked, “Who watches the Watchmen?” With Dream Police #7, we’re forced to wonder, “What scares a Nightmare?” I cannot answer that question–or the former, for that matter–but I can tell you one thing: I am quite fearful it’s going to be another four months before we even get the possibility of an answer. I hope, by that time, I haven’t forgotten the question.