Review time! with <i>Dreamnasium Tales</i> #1

"Though the dawn may be coming soon there still may be some time; fly me away to the bright side of the moon and meet me on the other side"

Geoffrey Thorne, who has written some cool comics over the past few years, sent me a digital copy of his Dreamnasium Tales #1, which is part of his Winterman Project for various science fiction and fantasy works he's done.

He's been doing these "Dreamnasium Tales" for a while, and here's the latest one!

Dreamnasium Tales is a silent issue, which means the art takes on added importance. Silent issues, I think, have to be difficult to write, because you can't rely on words, and Thorne pointed out to me that he wanted this to be silent so that language wouldn't be a barrier to reading it. That's pretty cool, and he certainly does make it easy for anyone, regardless of what language they read, to get the story. "Hookey" is about a hero named Blujack who decides to do just that - take a day off and visit a floating jungle (it's just a slab of rock with a jungle and one mountain on it - don't sweat the details, people!), where she discovers some others who may or may not want to do her harm. It points out the problem with wordless stories - this is somewhat ambiguous, and unless I'm just not too bright, I'm not exactly sure what the relationships between the four characters are.

Blujack wants to splash around in a waterfall pool, but she can't because she's attacked by no less than three separate entities. Two seem to be friends, while one definitely seems malevolent, but the storytelling isn't completely clear. Is the first dude Blujack meets really a bad guy who has a change of heart, or is he just a friend who likes roughhousing? I think I've figured out who the two characters who show up at the end of the issue are, but why do they announce themselves so violently? This is where words might help, because it's a bit confusing. Thorne shows the action very clearly, so that's not a problem - we know what happens in the story, but I'm not exactly sure they all relate to each other. Blujack gets in trouble for playing "hookey," it seems, but not too much, and there's a promise made of even more shenanigans, but again, it's hard to parse.

The art isn't great, but it's solid and fairly clear - again, storytelling is important in silent issues, and while I might be confused about why certain things happen, it's clear what's happening. The fights are laid out well, and Thorne does a nice job showing Blujack's confidence, as she smiles a bit throughout the first battle (which is why I'm not sure if it's "real" or just playfulness). The weird creature that attacks Blujack and her sparring partner/enemy is creepy (not too creepy; the tone of the book is fairly light) and nicely mechanical in this natural and fecund world, making it more menacing than the other "enemies" Blujack faces.

Thorne designs the characters and their costumes well, and he does a pretty good job with the emotions that Blujack is feeling at the end of the issue, when she appears to be in trouble for ditching her job. In that case, Thorne definitely doesn't need words - it's clear that Blujack is angry, but she is soon chastened and has to accept her responsibilities. It's nicely done by Thorne, and it's why I think that the first fight isn't as serious as it first appears. Maybe Blujack just likes bad boys!

Dreamnasium Tales is a nice little story, the kind that plays on our knowledge of superhero tropes and does something fun with them - we so rarely see superheroes taking a break, and while there's plenty of action in this short drama, there's also a sense of playfulness and joy, at least early in the story when Blujack doesn't have a care in the world. In the foreword, Thorne makes the point that anyone can create things, and only you can really stop them. This is a brief story that doesn't tell us anything important, but you can still sense the wonder coming off the pages, and superhero comics should always be about wonder if they're about anything. It's not a great story, but it's the kind of story that makes me happy. So that's something, right?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

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