The Dreaming: Waking Hours #6 kicked off a new story arc the first week of January and it’s a delight (and my first 10/10 score of the year). The story continues this week in this two-part story that has brought series writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Javier Rodriguez together to make magic in more ways than one. The lead protagonist in this story is Heather, a sorceress who has been poisoned and needs help now, but the odds are against her. Can her friends or Matthew the crow save her?
What makes this issue stand out is Rodriguez’s colors. There are purples, cool blues, and greens that create a sense of dread and unease. They permeate the issue and allow certain things to pop, like the yellow baby gargoyle or Ruin’s colorful hair. That dread is important because much of this issue is about her friends helping her and an opening to escape her poisoning. Rodriguez renders these colorful characters with a heavy dose of humanity, which makes them likable and relatable, even when their true forms are revealed. Speaking of which, a scene showing the true form of two of the characters is a beautiful full-page spread of incredible fantastical and imaginative rendering. There’s also a storybook page that does well to tell a story within the story. The exploration of storytelling via this series continues and it’s strong.
This issue has a heavy dose of plot progression as it’s speeding up to find a resolution for Heather, or at the very least the next step in her journey. For that, this issue works well to wrap things up while setting up a new journey for Heather. This series is quickly establishing the relationships between these characters, while sudden and unplanned at first, are building into a bond.
When it comes to characters, Wilson does a great job building on Heather’s boyfriend and showing how there is real love there. It’s somewhat fascinating to see how the human characters are much more emotional and open than the fantastical ones. It’s a nice way to show how these incredible magical creatures are in fact dull in the face of human love and fear of death.
This issue plays around with layout and space a bit less than the last, which makes it feel less important and awe-inspiring. That’s okay though, since the plot progression is important and the visual ideas of symmetry through framing and creative layout are still present on a lesser level.
The Dreaming: Waking Hours #7 is a great second issue in a story arc that is at the height of imaginative writing and artistry. The wow factor is lessened by comparison to the first issue, but it’s a nice reminder of how high of a bar this series has set.
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