Introducing a new superhero is no easy task. Just look at how many characters Marvel has introduced in the last 20 years that have stuck around. I can only think of Deadpool. Image Comics has had its fair share of new series and it seems Dark Horse Comics is getting in on the fun with Dream Thief #1. A new hero with special powers tied to aborigines in Australia…hmm…is it good?
Dream Thief #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
The book opens with a deadbeat boyfriend who just woke up in another woman’s bed. He calls his best buddy, an ex college football star who works an office job, to agree on a story in case she asks where he was. The protagonist tries to make it up to his girl by taking her out ot lunch and we quickly learn she’s been withholding sex for months after a burgular broke into her apartment. All of this establishes the characters and their dynamics, but surprisingly has little to do with the superhero part of the story. Clearly writer Jai Nitz wants the characters to be as strong as possible before we discover how wild this ride will get.
Just two buds enjoying some weed…
I was extremely hesitant of a story that involves a hero who wears an aboriginal mask scored from an Australian exhibit, but boy, did it win me over. Part of the reason it works—because lets be honest, the whole mask story has been done a thousand times before—is because the characters are so strong and vivid. Nitz frames the story with a letter being narrated throughout to the protagonists son. A son we have no idea exists aside from said letter. When the mask finally comes into play you realize what we have here is superpowers that support a new type of detective story and not some cliched superheroic cliche.
It seems he totally did steal the mask, and it totally takes over his bodily functions as he sleeps enacting justice, however violent is necessary. I won’t spoil it here, but if you woke up with blood on your hands and yet knew for a fact said blood was honest justice, how would you take it? He even knows how to dispose of the criminal’s body to the most minute detail. It’s a far out hook to the story because it not only creates mystery, but is inherently going to propel detective stories in the future.
Too many mojito’s…wait, what do aborigines drink?
The book is extremelly wordy, and in most cases when there’s a lot of narration and dialogue a book can get bogged down in its pacing. Not so here, largely because newcomer Greg Smallwood does an incredible job on every scale. For instance, on this page here:
The panels make up a question mark, but they also show a neat cutaway to the bones within. Each frame is interesting to look at, but all three together build the tension as our hero sees what he did the following night. This guy is going to be someone to watch out for in the future that is for sure. He has a style all his own, but it reminds me of Sean Phillips with a little more creativity when it comes to page composition.
- Killer character development
- A superpower that serves multiple purposes
- More action please!
The main weakness I see to this issue is there isn’t a ton of action. When the powers and hook hit you’ll be fully on board, but they come a little late for some people’s tastes. If you’re a fan of Fatale I could see you totally digging this book. The art and writing are top notch and I’m sure most publishers are wishing they had a series as unique as this one.
Is It Good?
Oh yes. Superhero comics done in a realistic way with an intriguing hook.