Queen of Bad Dreams is set in a world where the barriers between the subconscious and real world can be crossed. Where dream entities, known as “figments”, have sentience and agency of their own, specialist law enforcement becomes a necessity.
Publisher: Vault Comics
Writer: Danny Lore
Artist: Jordi Pérez, Dearbhla Kelly, Kim McLean
Price: $3.99 from www.vaultcomics.com
In this first issue of a new five-part series from Vault Comics (Friendo, These Savage Shores), we meet Daher, one of the “Inspector Judges” tasked with policing the migration of figments into the physical world. Her job is a simple one – track fugitive figments, and make the decision to reinsert them into their creator’s mind or grant them leave to remain in the real world. Though some figments are more cooperative than others.
A respected and capable Inspector Judge, Daher finds herself assigned to a high-profile case, after a powerful figment breaks free from the dreams of a prominent politician’s son.
From a conceptual level alone, writer Danny Lore has struck a rich vein of opportunity with the depth of possibilities brought by placing dreams and reality into the same physical space. World building takes centre stage in this opening issue, touching on aspects ranging from the world’s technology, to its political climate. Fears that the concept could boil down to a formula of “Dream Police, fight monsters” should be quickly dispelled, as solid groundwork for is laid for a detective mystery, loaded with political intrigue.
Characters too, are well rounded, likeable and naturally introduced with the promise of further depths to be revealed as the series continues.
We’re guided through events by a narrator, re-telling the story from sometime in the future. This is an interesting technique allowing for some outside commentary of action we see unfolding on the panels and to provide less invasive character notes – Infinitely preferable to clunky, introductory dialogue.
For an opening issue, with a lot of content to deliver, some may find the sheer volume of new terms and concepts introduced quickly and used casually in dialogue somewhat daunting. For the most part however, this subtle introduction of wider world elements works well, and are positive signs for a story that’s likely to really flourish as more issues are released.
Regarding the artwork, there’s some fabulous design collaboration between writing and visuals on display here. Monsters that have escaped from the nightmares of a child are designed with that origin in mind. Figments living in the real world have exaggerated features and have a habit of being beautiful (because of course people you dream up would be).
Pérez produces some strong action scenes with a sense of speed and weight behind to them, while Kelly’s colouring is bold and serves to make, particularly the figment characters, striking additions to the world.
Queen of Bad Dreams is another promising first issue from Vault with plenty of potential. With the publisher enjoying a strong reputation for producing some excellent trades, and the obvious level of detail and intrigue set to unfold nicely seeded, it’s a series we’re excited to see develop over the coming issues.