The Dreaming: Waking Hours has been a delight, especially under the soul-crushing solitude of the pandemic. G. Willow Wilson, Nick Robles, and Mat Lopes have presented new characters who have become new friends, amazing worlds, and a unique take on the Dreaming like we’ve ever seen. After a two-issue story arc with artist Javier Rodriguez, the series’ main artist Robles is back, and so too is the focus of the story as Ruin, Heather, and Jophiel join forces once again.
This issue spins out of the last with Heather now dead set on helping a Fae king, but to do so she and her compatriots must enter the land of the Fairie. She’ll need all the help she can get, so why not bring ex-angel Jophiel and nightmare Ruin? This issue also juggles a subplot involving Dream, who is still concerned about allowing Ruin to move freely on Earth. This issue sets up a very tricky conflict while exploring a new realm, which opens up the narrative tenfold. One might expect pretty little fairies, but what these characters find is a lot more haunting.
One might expect the conflict to arise in a physical form, but Willow and Robles introduce a Fairie world that has seen better days. And yet, the first speaking fae we find are jovial and looking quite happy. Something is afoot. It’s an attack on the mind that turns this fairie plot from one of magic to something far more sinister. Given what the Fairie King said in a previous issue, we might have expected this, but it’s becoming clear the friendship and bond between Ruin, Heather, and Jophiel is going to be what gets them out of this. Once again, it’s the friendships and connections of the characters that are highlights of this series.
This issue does some lifting to get the plot moving, which can take some time. It’s also a bit odd how unprepared Heather goes into Fairie knowing full well there’s great danger there. Maybe she’s got a plan we don’t know about yet, but how quickly these characters fall sway to fairie tricks makes the characters seem a bit foolish.
Robles and Lopes do well to capture the terrible state of the Fairie. Ruined like it was hit with a fire or deforestation, it plays well off the first introduction went the heroes portal over. Expectations are played with well via the characters too, as Robles draws these fun and free-spirited fairie characters in a way that’s hard to resist. In fact, he goes overboard a bit which puts the reader in the mindset that something is afoot. Robles adds little flourishes in the gutters and layout design here and there, further adding a magical element where needed. This adds to the storybook feel of the narrative.
Lopes does an exceptional job with atmosphere and lighting. The opening is cast in a sunrise lighting in a diner, creating a sense of magical realism, while the scene with Ruin, Heather, and Jophiel plays with the false lights above them. This juxtaposes well when they enter Fairie as it’s bathed in warm sunlight and magical energies. Further, the light of the destroyed forest is cast with reds and oranges, as if the soil itself is escaping the ground.
Simon Bowles letters the book and there are great touches throughout, from Dream with good emphasis where needed, or Matthew squawking and speaking in a jarring manner. The closeness of word balloons also adds in key scenes, like the fairie whispering sweet nothings into Heather’s ears.
The Dreaming: Waking Hours continues to be a great escape from the doldrums of everyday life. It helps to see real life can feel as such even in a story like this, but the characters here are able to escape on adventures however dangerous they may be.
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