Image Comics’ Dream Merchant is a stylish, edgy thriller that takes us on a journey into the uncharted terrain of the subconscious.
What if the seemingly innocuous landscape of our dreams actually held the remains of distant memories, half-forgotten fragments of a remote time that may be terrifyingly crucial to the human race’s very survival? This comic takes that idea and runs the distance with it, exploring in detail the hidden, yet desperately important secrets our dreams might hold.
Having met our main character, Winslow, in past issues, we know that he has been haunted by recurring dreams, nearly indistinguishable from everyday reality, since early childhood. But it isn’t until the arrival of a character known as the Dream Merchant that he realizes the nightmares’ true significance, coming to terms with his role as “the Fulcrum,” a hero destined to save both the dreamworld and the waking world from an approaching threat.
Accompanied by his not-quite girlfriend Anne, Winslow sets out to probe the depths of his dreams. However, his quest will not go unchallenged. Winslow is being hounded every step of the way by a mysterious race of beings known as the Regulators. These are the last survivors of an ancient species who once lived alongside humanity, and it is their goal to track down and extract any vestigial memories of the race from the minds of human beings, no matter how deadly their methods may be, laying the groundwork for an imminent invasion.
Dream Merchant is a comic that is both slow and mellow, but also intriguing and suspenseful at every turn. Writer Nathan Edmondson’s dialogue is sharp. Artist Konstantin Novosadov’s work is as excellent as in past issues, and his unique yet subdued flair gives the book an appropriately ethereal, otherworldly feel. In some ways reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, this creator-owned title also manages to be original and enjoyable on its own merits. Novosadov’s art may not be to everyone’s taste, but you owe it to yourself to give Dream Merchant a chance. Odds are you’ll be glad you did.
Nathan Edmondson (W), Konstantin Novosadov (A) • Image Comics, $3.50, July 24, 2013.