People who know me know that Grant Morrison is my comics hero, and so I don’t make comparisons to his seminal work The Invisibles lightly. But reading the first issue of Dream Reavers, the 4-issue miniseries from writer Raphael Moran and artist Marc Borstel, I got a definite Invisibles vibe. Like that series, you have a series of strange, apparently unrelated vignettes with a surreal edge to them, which over the course of the story begin to converge into a grander, more coherent tapestry.
While Morrison is a fan of dream logic, Raphael Moran’s story actually takes place largely within the realm of dreams. As the plot starts to come together, we see the dreamscapes of our cast of characters – each with unusual powers – start to converge and overlap, and that the Ravenwood Institute for Mental Disorders may have something to do with their connection. With the presence of a mental hospital, as well as the dream aspect, the story reminds me of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, easily the best of the Freddy sequels (if you don’t include New Nightmare) and a scenario that I’ve long thought could make a compelling original tale if you took Freddy Kreuger out of the occasion. The pace with which the mysteries are piled upon us, and the ambiguity over the scenes that are dreams and those are supposed to be taking place in the real world, can cause a bit of confusion that might risk alienating readers. However, if they stick through this, they’ll be rewarded with an intriguing narrative that promises to build into an immersive mythology in future issues.
Moran gives us a narrative brimming with inventiveness and big ideas, and such high concepts need a capable artist to render them. And for the most part, Marc Borstel – along with an art assist from Atul Bakshi and David Hedmark – rises to the challenge. Some of the real world scenes feel a bit staid and flat, but Borstel gets to cut loose and have fun once he gets into the world of dreams, shuffling through various genre pastiches with relish, and presenting some creepy creature designs towards the conclusion. Borstel’s colors work well too, with textured flesh-tones reminiscent of Ulises Arrerola’s recent Justice League Dark work. And like in that book, the colors give the characters an eerie “uncanny valley” quality that helps to add to the overall strange tone of the comic.
As a debut issue, Dream Reavers #1 isn’t quite perfect. Readers are assaulted with a whole bunch of ideas that can be a bit overwhelming, and not every one of them hits home. But having too many ideas is a good problem to have, and this is a comic that shows a lot of promise. Raphael Moran is crafting an interesting mythology here, and I’m certainly keen to see where the tale goes next.