Writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Nick Robles continue to craft an immensely pleasing tale in “The Dreaming: The Waking Hours” #3. This issue offers emotional weight, whimsy, and classic callbacks aplenty to create what may be the most entertaining issue of this series thus far. With outstanding visual direction from Robles and colorist Mat Lopes, and tonally superb lettering from Simon Bowland, this new chapter of The Dreaming is a surefire crowdpleaser for new readers and classic Sandman fans alike.
“In the waking world, Ruin and the fallen cherub Jophiel have teamed up with the sorceress Heather After to try to pull Lindy out of the Dreaming, and home to her newborn daughter…but they’d better work fast. Lindy’s mind is rapidly disintegrating as she reckons with thousands of possibilities for who Shakespeare really was, each one alive and walking around in front of her—and if she can’t keep it together, then she’ll be lost forever!”
Writing & Plot
G. Willow Wilson‘s approach to writing the inhabitants and guests of the Dream Realm in “Waking Hours” #3 makes for some of the most pleasant and comparatively light-hearted storytelling seen in this universe. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of emotional weight to be felt in these pages, (Lindy’s life story is no pleasant affair) but the air of good intentions and pleasant mischief makes this a hard comic to not have fun with. Lindy being stuck in a realm full of potential Shakespeares from all manner of literary theory is quietly hilarious. The journey of a hopelessly incompetent nightmare, a smartassed angel, and their dangerous with counterpart all trying to reunite an infant with its mother feels vaguely Pratchett-esque in the best possible ways. The fact that the whole comic feels so damn smart, while also paying superb homage to the creation of Neil Gaiman before her is the icing on the cake. Each new character is a great addition to the Sandman mythos, and the old characters feel exactly like they always have. Some special appearances by classic characters aren’t just for fan service (although they are great for that), but they genuinely serve the plot. The dialogue and narration are uniquely delivered based on the character speaking/thinking the lines, and they all also feel naturalistic and easy for readers to get in tune with. The poetic and literary prose style of prior Sandman tales has been eschewed in favor of something more new-reader friendly, but this doesn’t diminish the experience and makes for a stellar read.
The visual symphony that is created by Nick Robles’s pencils and Mat Lopes’s colors in “The Waking Hours” #3 gets continually more impressive as it continues. The changes in method from scene to scene are seamless yet breathtaking, as Robles casually changes from conventional pencils to what seem like watercolor paints and back again. It’s akin to J.H. William III’s work in Overture, but not quite as radical. The penciller makes his mark on The Dreaming by still offering a similar style to Bilquis Evely’s run on the prior series, but still also making these huge departures that add not just variety, but the tonal context within a scene. The images of Dream wandering around his prison for nightmares does deserve a different aesthetic than the rest of the book. Mat Lopes’s colors serve as the unifying thread of creative cohesion between the prior Dreaming run and this one, and it’s difficult to imagine anyone but him coloring this universe at this point. Each and every page on this comic is filled with vibrance. Even the rainy and fog-covered London streets appear luminescent. Each character has their own color scheme that seems to follow them wherever they go; Lindy is surrounded by yellow light from candles or the sun, Ruin brings cool blues and violets with him wherever he wanders, and Dream brings his usual ever-changing array of starlit skies and the morphing color waves of dreamy realities. There’s one particular scene where a summoning (no spoilers!) occurs where Robles’s talents quite literally explode onto the page in fiery blues and ethereal tones. The letters from Simon Bowland, another carry-over from Spurrier and Evely’s run, are just as varied and tonally mixed as all great Sandman stories should be. Every character would seem to have their own font, and the wavering or stilted delivery of some dialogue wraps the reader in the experience of being a part of this comic. Much like its predecessor, this is easily one of the best looking comics hitting shelves right today.
“The Dreaming: The Waking Hours” #3 is a whimsical and emotional chapter full of more brilliant characterization and fantastic character appearances than could be dreamed of in a good night’s sleep. G. Willow Wilson’s script dances across the lines of relatable human drama, horror, and literary whimsy while also giving us a compelling character-focused narrative. The visual marvel that is the combined work of Nick Robles and Mat Lopes shifts and changes among all manner of beautiful sights while keeping a consistent visual core. This is yet another brilliant chapter for this Sandman Universe tale, and a great read whether you’re a long time fan or not. Be sure to grab this newest release from your local comic shop when it hits shelves on 10/8!