Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews—now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘Queen of Bad Dreams′ #1, out April 24 from Vault Comics.
THIS ADVANCE REVIEW OF ‘QUEEN OF BAD DREAMS’ #1 IS SPOILER-FREE.
by Arpad Okay. Queen of Bad Dreams, a new title approaching superhero comics in a manner that could only be told today. Queen is equal parts bare wonder and subtle message. If superheroes are to be our best selves, to tell black and white stories about good and evil in extreme is too easy a path.
Danny Lore has written a nuanced story about autonomy and power, and their voice is strong, sharp, authentic, and keen. The real grit, the true burden of the powerful and just, isn’t defending the weak but having to choose who is weak, who deserves saving. All of us? None of us? Are those who are greater any more qualified to choose?
This is Queen of Bad Dreams.
Its philosophical debate is wrapped in a candy shell of art befitting a tights comic. Queen is a gorgeous book. Jordi Pérez draws magnetic, kinetic, and loose, with modern layouts, arthouse details, and style for miles, eking out a look leaps and bounds above the mainstream’s house style, though unmistakably a genre book.
Pérez and colorist Dearbhla Kelly together are a creek in summertime, constantly moving, sun dappled, wreathed in living color. Bold, inky characters. Experimental details. Innovative technology, cars, and architecture. Kelly’s colors glow vivid, varied, and boundless. Together they feel like Christian Ward, though his art lingers in expanding moments, and theirs is a bullet train.
Also striking and modern is the backbone of Queen of Bad Dreams’ story. Inspector Judge Daher is an officer, a dream hunter, one tasked by her office to let figments walking the waking world either live free or retire. That kind of retirement. A mix of knowhow, moxie, good informants, and weaponized imagination technology makes Daher the best at what she does.
Daher runs so damn hard because Queen is a story about people of color, women, and politics told in the new paradigm. Instead of history and identity standing as walls to hold in the story, Daher and her peers simply exist. They deal with the historic and institutional privileges of the real world but they aren’t defined or consumed by that power struggle. Queen of Bad Dreams passes the DuVernay test.
Do we really need another the-one-good-cop story right now? If you’re going to tell one, doing so in a world where women and people of color are in stations of authority bends the narrative in a favorable direction. Still, even in this brightest of timelines, there are white men questioning the ability of anyone not that. Lore’s critical voice is pitch perfect in examining injustice with realism, acumen, and wit.
Promise is perhaps the most important factor of a debut. Queen of Bad Dreams excites, but not just now; it seeds excitement in your imagination for what’s to come. The escalation is inevitable and welcome.
The tech, the creatures, the dreams, they are bound to grow more layered and more exciting. The monster that opens the issue won’t be the only unnameable nightmare we see. Bring them on. Better still, a solid base of character is built here, set to grow. Queen of Bad Dreams is bursting with verve, its debut a satisfying sup as well as a tantalizing taste of future courses.
It all adds up to a powerhouse first issue. A whirlwind of information that is neither overstuffed nor rushed, that manages to fit context, history, personality, and mystery (and a glimpse of how wrong your preconceptions of that mystery are) into an energizing and satisfying read. Queen of Bad Dreams will draw you in fast and leave you intrigued.
Vault Comics / $3.99
Written by Danny Lore.
Illustrated by Jordi Pérez.
Colored by Dearbhla Kelly.
Lettered by Kim McLean.
8 out of 10
‘Queen of Bad Dreams’ #1 hits stores April 24. Final order cut-off is April 1. (Diamond code: FEB192076)
You can read the DoomRocket interview with ‘Queen of Bad Dreams’ writer Danny Lore here.
Check out this 4-page preview of ‘Queen of Bad Dreams’, courtesy of Vault Comics!