sergestorms's The Dream Merchant #1 - Part One review

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    While the story follows familiar paths, the characters are engaging and the mystery looks entertaining so far

    This first issue is set up a pretty standard way. We follow bits of our hero Winslow's past as we are shown his childhood struck by an unusual and worsening sleep disorder centered around a recurring dream and his growing inability to distinguish reality and dreams, at least when in them. The problem gets more pronounced over time and affects his family, giving Winslow the sense of unending problems without respite. We finally join Winslow in the present in a psychiatric hospital where he is now a patient. With Winslow, we meet his friend Ziggy, a surprisingly insightful schizophrenic, and Annie, a nice young women who works at the hospital slinging institutional grub and who has befriended Winslow by giving him books on dreams to read.

    That is where we stand when Winslow's world takes a scary turn and the world of his dreams jumps violently into his waking world. Winslow flees with Annie, who for some reason has shown up at the hospital at four in the morning, Some menacing creatures from his dreams chase the two as they escape the hospital grounds and are then aided by another being how introduces himself as The Merchant of Dreams. That is all we get except for one rather huge clue the Merchant of Dreams gives him: Winslow has in his dreams the only memory of what the world has been made to forget. So there are a lot of possibilities there from the ambiguity in his mysterious pronouncement. But it sets up our hero in full fantasy/Star Wars/Harry Potter etc. mode; take a kid, maybe a loner or with problems, give the kid some special aspect to his life that is beyond what everyone else has, and away we go.

    Annie is nice and has her own evolving back story. We hope to meet Ziggy again as well. Both these supporting people have charm to them. The mystery looks like it will be fun with it taking place in both the real world and the dreaming. It was nothing amazing but a good start.

    The art is interesting and the world depicted in Wilson's dreams is strangely empty and reminiscent of the American Southwest. It is unknown if this has anything to do with Native American places and images popping up in the story. it could be in keeping with the theme. But the art is a little unsettling in its remote and empty feel. There are few colors in the dream world and little more than geometric rock shapes around. Winslow seems to fly over them much of the time. So when characters show up in this world, it is both unnerving for Winslow to see others there for the first time and in unnerving to see dark, menacing shapes against the repetitive, predictable world. So overall it was good first issue and does enough to make me want to stay with the series.

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