Review: ‘The Dream Merchant’ #2

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Nathan Edmondson and Konstantin Novosadov return with another installment of “The Dream Merchant” for Image Comics, and while it’s a mere 24 pages compared to last month’s 47, it’s just as dense in terms of narrative. The second issue delivers a significant amount of plot development presented through engaging philosophical discourse, and provides the truth concerning Winslow’s dreams and the danger his world faces.

WRITTEN BY: Nathan Edmondson
ART BY: Konstantin Novosadov
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
PRICE: $3.50
RELEASE: June 12th, 2013

The second installment continues with Winslow, Anne, and the Merchant of Dreams evading the ‘regulators’ who’ve been hunting our protagonist since the first issue. Along the way, the mysterious Dream Merchant provides his reluctant companions with the truth regarding Winslow’s recurring nightmares, and why it’s pertinent that he masters controlling his sleep states rather than being controlled by them.

Through expository dialogue delivered by the Merchant of Dreams, Edmondson advances his philosophical narrative concerning the scope of human perception, as it relates to dreams vs. reality. Keeping up with the accelerated pace of the first installment, he continues to build the story and mystery surrounding the true gravity of Winslow’s plight, by providing readers with some insight into where the series is potentially heading. Edmondson establishes that there was a time long past, when both the Merchant’s and Winslow’s worlds were in communion with one another, but it was a place filled with the horrors nightmares are made of. The supernatural occupants of that world eventually separated themselves from Earth’s population, and erased the very memory of their existence from the human subconscious. For better or for worse, Winslow’s dreams hold the only memory of what his world was made to forget, thus making him the main target of unwavering and merciless ‘regulators’ who will stop at nothing to hide their sinister plans against humanity.

What’s interesting about Edmondson’s writing is that he explains the limits of human knowledge, and the nature of existence through cosmological discourse, in a way that isn’t theoretical. His matter-of-fact exposition, in regards to metaphysics, is a quality not many writers possess, and calls for a level of trust between author and reader. Weirdly enough, he manages to portray something that’s credible to the extent that it’s worthy of belief and assuages readers with the promise of more answers to come. The Dream Merchant explains this idea well when he says, “Accept this. [Because] there will be time for consideration of it later.”

Unfortunately, where Edmondson excels in narrative building, he lacks in certain aspects of character development and likability. As a leading character, Winslow still falls flat and doesn’t particularly shine as a believable hero just yet. His reluctance to face the unavoidable situation he’s found himself in, and his hesitancy to take control of his life, is more than a little frustrating.

The artwork by Novosadov remains consistent, in that his style is still very much distinguishable, and his colour schemes still range through pinks and blues to differentiate dream states from reality. Contrasting with these dark panels are the pages where he depicts daylight in a way that livens up the issue, and provides readers with a sense of time. By the end of Part Two, specifically the last (and most interesting) page, Novosadov illustrates the ruthlessness of the ‘regulators’ and the lengths to which they will go to hunt Winslow down.

“The Dream Merchant” #2 still hasn’t hit all the marks just yet, but Edmondson’s creative vision when it comes to philosophical discourse and story development is admirable.

3/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – ShadowJayd