Lucy is a normal girl in middle school. She gets up in the morning, goes to school, does her homework, she transports into different imaginary universes when she falls asleep, where she takes on different personas and does battle with otherworldly threats. Okay, Lucy’s a little more awesome than more normal kids, but she sure is relatable. This is a series brimming with fantastic artwork and hilarious dialogue, but the title character is easily the best reason to check out this book.
Parts of the first issue play out like a punk rock take on DC’s original Amethyst series. Before our heroine is introduced to the dangers of the Dreamscape, we’re introduced to Lucy and get to see the world from her point of view. She’s a good kid, but she still feels like an outsider. As a youngster who spent much of my school years preferring to keep my nose in a book and out of socializing, I really found it easy to empathize with Lucy. This series gives us a real grasp of who Lucy is as a person well before the science fiction elements come into play. She’s sarcastic, smart as a whip, and cares more than she is even willing to admit to herself. Also, she thinks Twilight totally sucks, so you know, she rules.
Every element of the book reinforces the themes and the storytelling. Michael Dialynas’ artwork is cartoonish, but wonderfully detailed. The characters all have very expressive faces, particularly Lucy, which is important in illustrating her frustrations with the latest developments in her life. She seems appropriately flustered and ready to butt heads at any moment. She wants to seem in control at all times, even when she hasn’t the slightest idea what’s happening. All of this comes across in the artwork. The lettering by Colin Bell and Ed Dukeshire is also very important in communicating the whimsy of the story, which is occasionally broken up by moments of violence and horror.
Yes, not all is bright and cozy in the world of the Dreamscape, which Lucy quickly has to learn to roll with. From a Hunger Games-esque competition to a galaxy that seems pretty far, far away, she’ll have to navigate the tropes of all kinds of fantasy stories in order to learn important lessons about herself and the scope of her abilities. This conceit gives the creative team the license to show the reader very different realities in each issue. It not only keeps Lucy on her toes, but it keeps the book itself visually interesting. It’s also fun trying to figure out the rules of each world along with Lucy, as well as what moral she’s supposed to be taking from them.
Much like in his previous works like Oh, Killstrike and Worst X-Man Ever, writer Max Bemis finds ways of exploring universal feelings through fantastical settings. Sure, there are unicorns and giant mechs here, but they’re just a part of Lucy’s journey to understanding herself and her place in reality. The most compelling thing about this book is how relatable it is, even through all the wacky adventures. It never loses sight of what’s important to Lucy, which are things that we can all understand: It’s important to have the respect of your parents, not just their love or permission. It’s important for your crush to like you in bold letters. It’s important to fit in, even if you tell yourself that there’s nothing more repulsive than to be “acceptable.”
Where the miniseries stumbles a bit is in its last act. There’s a massive tonal shift in the middle of the fourth issue and the fifth issue culminates in a classic comic book punch up that seems a bit at odds with the rest of the series. The last two issues delve into the effects of toxic masculinity on a literal and metaphysical level. The ugliness of selfish people strangling the power of imagination is a great concept. However, one gets the feeling that Lucy’s story and evolution might have benefitted from at least one extra issue to flesh out the big ideas presented toward the end of the series. I’m crossing my fingers for her continuing adventures!
Lucy Dreaming accomplishes a beautiful feat in playing off our expectations of ideas and concepts we think we’ve seen a million times before in film and literature to tell a brand new story in an entirely unique way. Lucy herself is a character that readers will want to see succeed, because we are all dreamers. We all feel like outcasts at one point or another. We all want to be more than we are. We all want to know that we really are cool.
Me? I want to be like Lucy when I grow up.