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Dream Thief Volume 1 Paperback – March 25, 2014
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This is not an entirely new concept, one of my favourite comics at the moment does very similar things, however the way it is done is extraordinarily good. The ‘hero’ of the story, John Lincoln, is a layabout, drug taking, cheating, and unemployed film director who spends half his life living off his ex-professional football player best friend Reggie. He wakes up with no memory of what happened last night because of the quantities of drugs and alcohol he had consumed, but realises he is in his mistresses house and concocts a story with Reggie over where he was the night before. The problem is the next time he does the same thing he wakes up having killed his girlfriend and with a huge gap in his memory.
This book is probably the best written and most planned out comic I have read in a long time, if ever. The chain of events that is put into place gets tied into so many knots that even if you found a point in the book where you did not follow it, the next link makes it easy to catch back up again. Part of me wishes that this was a standalone book because I think the ending would have been different. There were clearly a couple of possibilities that would have concluded the book permanently that would have felt very satisfying to read. The ending that we have is definitely not a bad one and it leaves it open to carry on the series, so perhaps in a few volumes time the ending that I have in my head, where I think it could have been going is where it will end up, but we have some more fantastic comics to read before it gets there.
I cannot recommend this highly enough; it thunders along like an out of control steam train dragging you along with it. I am eternally grateful that I read this as a trade rather than individual issues because I think I might have screamed and smashed the screen had I been left hanging for a month. The only downside to reading this as a trade is that those dramatic moments are slightly diminished by turning the page to a recap which was the introduction to the next issue. It feels a bit like watching a DVD of a TV series where the 20 seconds after the advert break nearly repeats the 20 seconds before hand, but without the adverts and it feels annoying and superfluous. This is the most minor of complaints and the only reason why I mention it is because the book is so good, I felt like I had to find something to criticise.
John Lincoln is a slacker - a NEET with a traumatized girlfriend, a drug habit, and one good friend to his name. But that all changes the night he steals an aboriginal mask from a museum - and wakes up without any memory of why he did so and his girlfriend's body on the floor. Thus starts a terrifying week of falling asleep only to wake up to crimes committed while he was possessed by a vengeful ghost - whose memories and abilities/talents he retains each time. Worse, as he starts putting the pieces together, he realizes that all the murders - from male prostitute, to judge, to lawyer, and more across the South East are all interconnected. He gives his ghosts their vengeance and they give him clues to solving an extraordinary family mystery. And the story is leading back to his father, a man he hasn't seen for most of his life. The same father who sends him a note from jail suggesting he knows what is going on with John's life.
At first, I was intrigued by the first chapter and worried this would be another shallow reality noir with a supernatural twist (e.g., violence porn). But then with each possession, the overall picture became more detailed and their interconnectivity became fascinating. In the beginning I really disliked the anti hero John Lincoln character and his selfish callousness. And then the plot kicked in and the mask's personalities, each with their own unique history, took center stage. The supernatural element is really only touched upon and most of the story is about understanding the circumstances of the ghosts and John realizing the big picture is much greater than he thought.
This is a story I will definitely continue to follow. The first book was packed full of enough ideas and intrigue that I was riveted for hours as I read through - and then reread against to catch up on what I missed the first time around. If you only see this as a set of random revenge killings, you need to reread again and get the big picture that they are all connected.
Note that this is a very violent, very adult graphic novel exploring issues of morality, crime, responsibility, and more.
Received as an ARC from the publisher.
John Lincoln is between jobs (stage magician and filmmaker). He's content to be a layabout, until one night he takes an Aboriginal mask from a museum. Now everytime he wakes up, he doesn't know where he is and there are dead people around him that he kills. He has a strange connection with the dead, even having their memories and skills. The murders take him all over the South, but could they be related? And if so, what do they have to do with John's father in prison?
It's an interesting premise. Kind of like The Mask meets The Crow. Sort of. John Lincoln is in way over his head, but seems to be able to worm his way out of things. Story by Jai Nitz is over the top and pretty intense. Art by Greg Smallwood is really good. I'm curious to know where this is going.
I was given a review copy by Diamond Book Distributors and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this intense graphic novel.