The Dreaming has been a crown jewel of the DC Black Label line, and it’s getting a new series this week called Waking Hours #1. G. Willow Wilson is diving back into the Dreaming universe in a new-reader friendly title weaving together nightmares, Shakespeare, and motherhood in a thoughtfully imaginative adventure that feels wholly new.
The first issue drops us into a house filled with stairs. An impossible amount of stairs at that, and soon we realize we’re in a dream world. We meet Lindy, a smart thirty-something woman who has a new baby to nurse and a life working for a college. Teaching classes doesn’t pay the bills, and certainly, her dissertation on Shakespeare isn’t paying either. We soon see she’s trying to rear a child while writing about something she’s passionate about. It takes a lot out of you and puts her in a unique position, as she’s always tired and seems to be treading the Dreaming. Enter a nightmare named Ruin, who graces the variant cover. I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers, but Ruin and Lindy’s lives get turned on their head through an encounter.
This is the kind of comic that I’m suspect of, but as I turn its pages I become more and more enamored with its characters and the story unfolding. The Dreaming was an exceptional series about storytelling and the incredible characters that live in that magical world, but here we’re getting a story about what happens when creatures of that world bleed into our own and vice-versa. It’s an incredible concept rife for exploration and I can’t wait to read more.
There are also, of course, ideas about storytelling woven into this issue as well. Not just storytelling, but how they are written and by whom. The complexities of that are touched upon and will likely lead Lindy down a road of amazing discoveries.
Robles art paired with Mat Lopes colors–who also colored most of The Dreaming–has a warmth that makes the characters feel wholesome and real. Even Ruin, a nightmare, looks deeply passionate and emotional when often characters like this are cold and dark. There’s complexity there underneath the characters where you can tell there’s an entire lifetime that got us here. That includes Lindy, who feels like a character you likely have in your life and wish you had. In a series about storytelling, the art helps inform us even its characters have stories we’ll never get to know that happened previous to where the story starts here. Environments are also well done with a hardened edge that’s realistic and yet slightly strange. The house Lindy dreams in, for instance, is realistically rendered, but done so with strangeness in the number of staircases and how they are laid out so we can see it’s not quite real life.
An elegant mix of sophisticated story building and deeply human visuals, The Dreaming: Waking Hours has all the components of classic Sandman storytelling. There is so much here that will entice your imagination and make you ponder where it goes from here.