The Dreaming is dense, thought-provoking, and imaginative as all hell — it’s been the most “Vertigo” book since the line was revived late last year. In the latest arc, new character Dora is attempting to hunt down Sandman and make things right in the Dreaming, and her journey has taken her to many realms. In the latest issue, out today, the World’s End pub is next on the list, and it’s all about storytelling.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The World’s End pub is a place where ales and tales flow freely. A place where the netherfolk gather to spin stories and mark time between realities. But a blight has come to the Worlds’ End pub, and as the search for Dream of the Endless nears its end, our plucky hunters must confront the saddest thing of all: a fable that can’t stop fading. Meanwhile, the new Lord of the Dreaming, chafing against its unwanted throne, gropes for answers–and endings…
Why does this matter?
The Sandman Universe has been made stronger thanks to writer Simon Spurrier and artists Bilquis Evely and Mat Lopes, and this issue is another example of that. If you’re a lover of creation myths, storytelling, and creative solutions, you’ll very much enjoy this issue.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Patience is a key element when reading a story such as this. It takes about 14 pages to see what Spurrier and Bilquis are doing, and then a lightbulb goes off and you realize how clever and interesting this story within a story within a story is. The issue opens with Dora and Matthew entering the World’s End pub and finding the main area empty. She soon discovers everyone is in the back enjoying a good story. Very quickly Matthew is telling Dora to be quiet so he can listen; meanwhile, there’s a raging fire upstairs and nobody cares at all. The narrative then dives into the story, which leads to another story entirely, and another and it becomes clear something strange is afoot.
This is a fabulous issue that has a very interesting purpose in its approach. The story told in the back room is an interesting one in itself, but in it lies a trick of sorts. It’s through Dora and a mysterious bunny character that the truth is finally revealed. The narrative style requires you to listen, pay attention, and eventually see how a story can be weaponized. Outside of this, this issue progresses the search for Sandman and ends on a high paced chase. This is good comics.
The art is fabulous as always. Evely and Lopes dazzle with detail and well thought out color. The stories within stories all have their own art style too, showing us how Evely can stretch her style to mimic others. I honestly thought multiple artists were involved with the issue since her style changes so drastically. It’s impressive work.
A shout-out must go to the letterer Simon Bowland, who gets the chance to change the lettering style in each story being told. It’s a subtle sort of switch, but it does a lot of the heavy lifting to change the narrative within the narrative. The type-set style of the pulp noir story has a grounded seriousness thanks to the letters, while the futuristic sci-fi story has extra energy from the longer and thinner lettering. It’s great work.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
As far as comic book storytelling goes, I do think it requires a certain level of patience from the reader to enjoy this issue. It’s not really a fault of the comic itself, though — it’s just a different pace than most mainstream comics. That said, I could see some folks putting this down before it gets good because you have to take each story within the story on its own terms before realizing what is really going on.
Is it good?
The Dreaming continues to be a comic series for those who love storytelling. This is a classic example of how patience and attention to detail can reward the reader. The Dreaming is a methodically absorbing fantasy series not to be missed.