(Image Comics, 2014)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Line Art by Sid Kotian
Color by Bill Farmer
Letters by Troy Peteri
I’ve been singing the Cheap Trick song in my head for about an hour now, every since opened the PDF of this comic. So to try to excise the demons and scrape Robin Zander’s chant from my mind, I’ll write about comics. Good comics, not happy comics. Please J. Michael Straczynski, scour my brain.
Dream Police comes out this week, another from the Image imprint Joe’s Comics, includes The Adventures of Apocalypse Al, Protectors Inc., Sidekick, and Ten Grand. All come from the intensely productive hand and mind of J. Michael Straczynski (Supreme Power, The Amazing Spider-Man) one of the most prolific writers in the comic and entertainment industry. He continues a run of excellence with this number one, a hard boiled detective fantasy.
In the Dreamscape you have a world created solely for the purpose of giving a setting to the dreams that everyone has. It takes the form of a city, and with that comes all of the baggage that running a metropolis comes with. The Dream Police are the enforcers, making sure that dreams (in the form of files) are had in the order and structure that they’re supposed to be in. Joe Thursday is a Lieutenant Detective with the police, partnered with Frank Safford for as long as either can remember. Everything is humdrum, even when it isn’t. Those things that would seem fantastical to us, a dragon loose in the Dreamscape, J.M.S. make everyday. (Dream Police code for that is a 4-7-7.) Straczynski parleys the common cop lingo into his fantasy here, an extension of a fantasy he had as a child, and seamlessly weaves the two together, so that when we see a changeling who won’t play by the rules it seems commonplace.
J.M.S. covers a lot of ground in the issue and displays a complete knowledge of the universe he’s created. He throws a lucid dreamer into the mix, and a force beyond the power of the Dream Police, the Nightmares, who seem to operate of their own accord. Joe is the constant, the narrator, but who is he really? Why is there no concept of time?
Sid Kotian (Apocalypse AL, Twilight Guardian) does all of the line art and is colored by Troy Peteri (Witchblade, The Darkness). The art team gives a gritty cop show feel to the book while keeping the fantasy portion light and fun. It’s not every day that a guy gets to draw a shoot-out with a machine gun wielding madman to a dragon sitting on a sidewalk, all in the same book. I love their design for the Nightmares, Victorian top hats and cloaked, sinister, as well as the idea for the Changelings, creatures who’s job it is to fill dreams with characters.
Dream Police is a book and a universe that is only contained by what J. Michael Straczynski can imagine. Anything you can dream about will be made reality. And that could send this book in a dark direction in the coming issues. Inside the Dreamscape, anything is possible. The addition of the Nightmares as characters, coldly job-oriented, make this universe one to be feared, and one I will anxiously read. And much like the song, “…the Dream Police, they get inside of my head…” (How long till issue 2?)
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.