The Dreaming: Waking Hours made it on AIPT’s best story arcs of 2020 for good reason, and the series continues with a new arc this week. Titled “Intermezzo”, G. Willow Wilson and Javier Rodriguez aim to explore sorceress Heather and the repercussions of what she did in the last arc. Magic isn’t free and she’s due for some punishment from a faerie she seriously pissed off. Enter The Dreaming: Waking Hours #6 to find out how she gets out of this one.
First and foremost, this book is gorgeous. Rodriguez is one of the sharpest and most dynamic artists today, drawing and coloring some of the most impressive works in the last year alone. There are interesting layouts designed around perspective which explores the space in dynamic and sometimes new ways. The concept of a square box, for instance, is explored more than once in this issue with characters standing in a room which is crafted simply by hanging a window in a space where it should be. Without any walls, it may appear flat, but the window adds depth.
Color choices are incredibly well done too, like when Heather is partying at a club and pinks, yellows, and blues seem to blend into a psychedelic tapestry. Below Heather, we see the faerie who stabs her framed by the dress she’s wearing which flows and hangs under her. There is dynamism at work here as color, panel layout, and pencils come together in a rich way.
This is an easily accessible issue for new readers to jump into, but it pays tribute to those who have read this far. The book opens with Lindy getting some good news, which serves as a payoff for her struggles in the last arc. We also get a check-in with Ruin as well as a new dynamic to explore between him and his angel friend. From there the narrative catches us up on one more character before diving headlong into Heather’s terrible, no good, very bad night.
Heather has a history in the Sandman universe and it’s nice to see her get more of a focus here. In the last arc, she served as a helper and Wilson did a good job capturing her personality, but here we get to see it at work and how it can get her into some trouble. Along with her seemingly too-perfect boyfriend, we get to see Heather whine, party and flirt. She’s a character who feels entirely real and alive. You’ll quickly gravitate towards liking her in quick order, which is important since things turn from bad to worse for her rather quickly.
Much of this narrative is about magic, which makes sense since Heather is a sorceress. If the last issue was about dreaming and its magics, this issue is more grounded in reality. Magic is everywhere, as we learn from Wilson’s captions, and there are rules to it. There’s a lesson here about taking things seriously, especially things that can get you killed as Heather learns the hard way here. As the story progresses a familiar face pops in, nightmare creatures creep on Heather, and there is an interesting 9-panel grid flashback page that’s a great pace changer. This book changes pace at the right times, keeping you engaged and interested every panel of the way. You can’t say that for most comics.
All of this wouldn’t go as smoothly as it does without Simon Bowland on letters. In a series with various creatures, letters can tell us something about the characters, and we see that at different times in assertiveness or a carefully chosen word balloon location.
The Dreaming: Waking Hours #6 continues an exceptional run of a carefully crafted and highly entertaining story. This is comic book magic about magic in a world with limitless possibility. The Dreaming: Waking Hours is a story radiating with life and art, and will assuredly imbue you with radiance too.
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