THE DREAMING #3 by Simon Spurrier and Bilquis Evely
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
THE DREAMING #3 brilliantly portrays the rise of vindictive nightmare Judge Ezekiel Gallows within the Dreaming community. The story is well-paced, intriguing, and perfectly captures the original feelings of Neil Gaiman's world thanks to Simon Spurrier's brilliant writing and Bilquis Evely's beautiful and sometimes creepy art.
97 %
Darkly Brilliant
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In our current cultural setting, fear often takes center stage. People pass blame; judge others on their skin color, sexuality, or beliefs; pointing the finger at the wrong perpetrator. With that in mind, Simon Spurrier has made an absolutely brilliant decision in THE DREAMING #3. For the first time, the land of dreams is overrun by nightmares, with one standing out above the rest. In this issue, he introduces the Southern gentleman nightmare, Judge Ezekiel Gallows. Gallows has plans for the Dreaming. Too bad that said plans rest on the hanged necks of his many opponents. With the entire Dreaming cast falling apart alongside their realm, can a strong hand truly lead them back to glory? Or will this ruthless tyrant simply lead them further away from their true calling?

Warning, potential spoilers for THE DREAMING #3 are below!

A Land of Nightmares

THE DREAMING #3
THE DREAMING #3 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

THE DREAMING #3 is absolutely brilliant, and it’s by far the best issue in the series to date. Considering the continued quality of the previous two issues, that’s saying something! The story flows along at a really nice clip. Yes, there are times when things get a bit confusing. This is a fantasy realm based entirely on the human subconscious, and sometimes the puzzle pieces don’t always come together. However, I never felt like I got lost in these potholes. I did get lost in the fun, methodical storytelling that Spurrier brings to this issue. The twists and turns kept me guessing until the final page in the best possible way. Spurrier created a plotline that felt grounded in its characters and elements, which isn’t easy for this particular cast.

I especially loved the narrative shift and general writing of this book. It’s not often that a writer gets the opportunity to step into literary history. Spurrier harkens back to the American West in his lyrical, almost sing-song narration. It feels as if I was sitting around a campfire, listening to an intense and dark urban legend. This gives the story a unique edge, not unlike Neil Gaiman’s own take on the original series. THE DREAMING #3 mirrors Gaiman’s self-same literary writing style, with interesting poetic repetition and beautiful prosaic sections. This feels like a Gaiman story, even more than previous issues. While I’ve loved Spurrier’s take on this world, I do enjoy this homage to the original.

The Judge of Death

THE DREAMING #3
THE DREAMING #3 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

By far, the strongest element of THE DREAMING #3 is Judge Ezekiel Gallows. I recognized the strength of this character during his initial introduction. He claims to only want to observe and assess, that he isn’t like his nightmare persona. And for the first half of the issue, you believe him. Spurrier does a fantastic job building this character up as more than the stories surrounding him. You get persuaded by his Southern charm and intellect. Only when he finally turns, showing the darkness beneath the surface, do you realize what your trust has brought. Spurrier’s writing of Ezekiel Gallows is some of the best character work I’ve seen. It makes you question your own morality and decisions by making you trust the villain. It’s scary. It’s profoundly relevant. Most of all, though, it’s thoroughly entertaining.

As for the rest of the cast, I felt that Spurrier did a fairly strong job balancing them. Some characters, like Eve and Matthew, don’t get the same level of characterization as the rest, but I’m willing to look past this. The massive size of this cast means that unnecessary elements sometimes need to be cut. I especially loved the look at Lucien, Cain, and Abel. These three dreams are profoundly affected by the opening of the Crack in the sky. THE DREAMING #3 explores the extent of these changes, and it leads to some interesting and personal moments. I also liked how Spurrier approached the mysterious Dora. While we don’t learn anything concrete about her, the allusions to her past and the two words that completely shut her powers down strike up a lot of interest. It’s also fun to see her from Lucien’s perspective, albeit briefly.

Dark and Beautiful

THE DREAMING #3
THE DREAMING #3 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Bilquis Evely returns to THE DREAMING #3, and she brings with her an all-star performance. In this issue especially, she had a monumental task. Not only did she have to tell the story in itself. She also had to delve into Gallows’ intricate and strange history in the course of about three pages. What follows is a series of symbols and nightmarish images coming from the worst of 19th Century America. This “flashback” sequence perfectly depicts the type of man that Gallows was made to be. Dream crafted him to be a nightmare of racism, lynch mobs, and political corruption. Evely captures this horror in one of the most awe-inspiring sequences that I’ve ever seen.

THE DREAMING #3: Final Thoughts

If you read no other comic this week, pick up THE DREAMING #3. Even if you haven’t read any of the previous SANDMAN or THE SANDMAN UNIVERSE titles, this story will still make your jaw drop. From the strong poetic writing to the absolutely beautiful artwork to the horrifying main character, this is a story that surpasses so many others on the market. So I can only hope that Spurrier continues this level of storytelling throughout the rest of the series!

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