The Dreaming: Waking Hours continues to be a delightful read as it mixes magic, dreams, and our deepest desires into one narrative that makes sense and captures the imagination. G. Willow Wilson, Nick Robles, and Mat Lopes are taking on the mantle of the Sandman universe and doing it magnificently. In the fourth issue, the nightmare Ruin must accept the fact that he needs to take responsibility for swapping places with Lindy, who is very much a normal human being. As she navigates the Shakespeare multiverse, can Ruin save her before Dream can catch up with him?
If you are a fan of Si Spurrier and Bilquis Evely’s The Dreaming, and why wouldn’t you be if you’re reading this series, you’ll need to pick this issue up. Spoilers aside, this issue begins to flesh out the narrative a bit more from the three plots opening the narrative quite a bit. Up until this issue, this series has felt a bit like a spinoff, but it’s pretty clear by the end of this issue this is the main series. Of course, it’s the only Sandman comic out right now, so that might be a given.
This issue focuses quite a bit on Lindy, who is determined to take control of her situation and escape by solving who was the one true Shakespeare. Ruin is doing the same after being stonewalled in the last issue and thus the narrative has a singular tact as both try to make things right. Lindy’s scenes are a bit static as she spends much of this issue sitting, thinking, and talking out loud. The final moment is a wild one, though, and it begs for an explanation that may be symbolic in nature.
Ruin’s narrative is interesting in part because it helps convey this miserable nightmare may be a hero yet. Ruin’s plight also helps flesh out Heather the sorcerer’s personality–you’ll be shocked discover who her partner is–and further makes you want to spend time with these characters. And that’s one of the reasons this work is so delightful: in a world where the news is always awful and we can’t spend a moment with our friends without fearing for their health, The Dreaming: Waking Hours allows us a respite with characters who are like new friends.
Robles and Lopes continue to do excellent work, always seeming to convey normal reality in an interesting and believable way and with a page turn totally blowing us away with the strangeness of the Dreaming. Characters always seem believable and real, even Heather’s boyfriend who is supposed to be a flat stereotype, which helps connect you with the characters even with they aren’t speaking. This issue doesn’t call for many showstopper moments, but when things do get strange it’s a riveting kind of weird.
What propels this issue beyond good to great are a few incredibly well-worded bits of advice and thoughts on life. One, in particular, stood out: “The greatest endeavors all involve fear. It comes not from the immensity of the task, but from the realization that we are far greater beings than we imagined.” These bits of dialogue add a sense of wisdom and weight to the story while also supplying a bit of hopeful energy we so desperately need in these trying times. The fact that there are multiple goes to prove this series is a must-read for us all.
The Dreaming: Waking Hours continues to be one of the most delightful books on the stands today. It blends warm and interesting characters and captivating weirdness you won’t want to tear yourself away from.
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