THE DREAMING #2 by Simon Spurrier and Bilquis Evely
THE DREAMING #2 is a fantastic read full of twists, turns, and laughs. It has its moments where the dark fantasy elements get a bit confusing, but an otherwise grounded narrative alongside fantastic characterization and art makes this a worthwhile read.
95 %
A Dream Come True
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In the first ten volumes of SANDMAN, Neil Gaiman introduced readers to the world of the Dreaming. This birthplace of dreams and a safe haven for dreamers represents the best of the best fantasy realms. However, with his run finished, Gaiman simply couldn’t explore all of the craziness and intrigue of this mystical land. In THE DREAMING #2, though, readers get a glimpse deeper into the greater concepts of this strange world.

Follow Merv Pumpkinhead as he bears witness to the newfound danger and chaos that have infected the Dreaming. With Dream missing and Lucien losing his mind, Merv turns to the only source of aid that he can find. But is his solution more dangerous than any of the Dreaming’s current problems?

Oh, Merv…

THE DREAMING #2 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Writer Simon Spurrier manages to satisfyingly build on Neil Gaiman’s unique world. This look isn’t perfect. After all, when Merv and his workers have to deal with the “Milam Cascade” of lucid dreamers, as well as the incursion of “foreign ideas,” things turn upside down really fast.

Spurrier doesn’t go into full detail about what the Cascades fully do, but he still manages to give enough to do something really important for this story. The entire purpose of THE DREAMING #2 is to showcase how deep into chaos Dream’s realm has fallen. And on that front, Spurrier couldn’t have done any better.

Spurrier gives us a story that focuses on a realm falling apart. Its leader missing, its new leaders falling apart, the world itself fraying at the edges. Even our POV character, the caretaker and “fix-it man” of the Dreaming Merv, cannot solve this problem. The world is falling apart around him, and he is useless to stop it.

That type of plot feels incredibly grounded. Yes, a number of this elements fall into the realm of strange science and high fantasy confusion. However, none of that matters because the main focus is so clear. Spurrier’s story succeeds because he plays into a real, human aspect of the story. More importantly, he manages to do so while giving us new and interesting glimpses of this beloved world.

The Everyman Comes

One of the smartest decisions Spurrier made in THE DREAMING #2 comes from his choice of POV. The last issue, he had readers follow the intense narrator Lucien as he sought his own solutions for the Dreaming. However, the POV switches to Merv. This does some incredible things for the story. First off, it allows Spurrier to show a different angle of the Dreaming crisis. More importantly, though, he keeps reader interest high with a brand new voice.

With so many interesting characters in the Dreaming, I think readers would feel trapped if Spurrier kept them in the head of only one. However, he manages to start a really cool and intelligent trend by changing the perspective here.

This doesn’t even touch on how interesting Merv himself actually is. Merv simply has a ton of personality. He might be belligerent, arrogant, and typically an abrasive individual. We even get to see this as early as the first page. Nevertheless, this allows us to see his emotional transitions far more clearly. There are parts of this story where Merv simply breaks down, unable to process the crumbling of the Dreaming.

He has a single job, to fix things, and he can’t even do that in this situation. It’s a sad, lonely look at a character who is in the process of losing everything. That makes his final decisions in this story that much more relevant and understandable. He makes what could be the worst possible decision to save his world. However, he still only focuses on how it could benefit his family.

A Crumbling World

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

Returning again for THE DREAMING #2 is the fantastic Bilquis Evely. Much like the last issue, Evely’s work absolutely shines. Her take on the Dreaming is one of the most brilliant and interesting that I have ever seen. I love her take on this crumbling world, and for reasons that make no artistic sense. There is absolutely no unity in her view of the Dreaming. Fragmented elements impede on the customary landscapes of this fantasy realm.

That only amplifies the feeling of confusion. When she plops Erzulie Freda’s House of Whispers down next to Dream’s castle, her art makes that moment carry weight. When Cain and Abel investigate the strange obelisk and its bottomless pit, we understand their natural fear and curiosity. We feel it too, and that is solely due to Evely’s brilliant focus on atmosphere.

THE DREAMING #2: Final Thoughts

THE DREAMING #2 continues the tradition of excellence associated with the Sandman name. Tonally, it is a very different tale. Spurrier’s version of the Dreaming focuses on the wonder of the realm and the newfound chaos it faces. Unlike Gaiman’s very serious, often dark fantasy Dreaming, Spurrier’s has a constant balance between beauty and horror. More importantly, his choice of POV puts us right into the heart of the threat.

Merv acts perfectly as our eyes and ears as he is deeply affected by his crumbling realm. Topping it all off, Bilquis Evely’s incredible art only amplifies the already incredible storytelling present throughout. All in all, this is a series to keep your eyes on, no matter where it goes in the future.

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