DREAM POLICE 1 (Preview Orders NOW, In stores April)
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Sid Kotian
Publisher: Image (Joe’s Comics)
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
If DREAM POLICE seems familiar, give your brain an extra special treat tonight for remembering a title from nine years ago. I was pretty impressed at myself for remembering that far back. In addition to comics I write and read a few ten thousand other words each week while on the clock for “The Man.” There’s a reason my memory was able to conjure this title, the publisher, the year and hell even the cover when I closed my eyes without the aid of Google; it was an awesome comic implosion. Not an explosion, that leaves behind marks and shrapnel – evidence it existed. DREAM POLICE before it vaporized in one issue like a nuclear blast showed us a take on the world of the nocturnal that’s the antithesis of the standard set by SANDMAN.
I had to know if I was right, so I went back to my email from whence this preview came and scribed the following…
Is this in any way related to the Icon story from like 10 years ago?
We did a one-shot at Marvel Icon, which didn’t get very much promotion, I think it was marketed to about ten people, and thus died on the vine.
I always wanted to revisit that universe and revive that book because I think it’s a lot of fun and I liked the characters. It had kind of a Dragnet in the Dreamscape vibe to it that appealed to me enormously. So one of the first things I wanted to do with Joe’s Comics was to revert the book back to us and reboot it once we’d established the line as its own thing.
I also fell in love with Sid’s work and wanted to bring him in on this before anyone else could grab him once Apocalypse Al comes out.
Point being, it’s a fresh start, a reboot and new beginning, and a great place for folks to jump in.
Not only did Joe answer my question with the same hyper yet easily digestible detail he puts into his work, he also just half wrote the review.
However, I don’t think Joe’s analogy can stand on it’s own. Let me clarify and translate for the younger generation. Dragnet was a detective drama from the 1960s, it starred Colonel Potter from M-A-S-H and television’s first character suffering from Asperger’s, Joe Friday. Joe Thursday, one of our two stalwart detectives of DREAM POLICE, is not suffering from crippling deadpan nor stuffed into a seersucker suit. Likewise his partner is not Col. Potter, yet the much hipper and constant deliverer of snappy dialog, Frank Stafford. There’s a sadism to these two characters that comes from policing the denizens of dream land. If I had to equate them to two other cops, I’m going with the characters from the American version of Life on Mars.
Dreamscape is was a movie from the 80s where psychics were popped into people’s dreams to consciously control the outcome. I’ll half buy this in the sense that Joe and Frank are certainly in control, but I think the comparison marginalizes the complex world and set of rules Joe (the writer) has set for the book. In Dreamscape dreams are but a vapor – a place conjured by the dreamer that disappears when the dreamer awakens. In DREAM POLICE this world exists separate from the Dreamer. See, we aren’t the true denizens of this dream land, but rather mere transients killing time until morning. The true inhabitants that Joe and Frank need to keep in line are the makers of our dreams. If anything I would compare this landscape to Albert Brook’s Defending Your Life where angels are the worker bees of purgatory, a place that feels very much like home. DREAM POLICE’S landscape is just as familiar; it’s an amalgam of all American cities replete with appropriate landmarks. The makers of our dreams are trollish craftsman that build the scenes, shape changers who play the part of our desires and of course Johnny Law who keeps them all in line.
I found this all fascinating as the two went on calls, made supernatural collars and even had a run in with the top hat wearing toothy maw gentleman nightmares. Then Joe goes and throws a twist at the end. I don’t need to spoil it here, but it adds a third level to the book that makes you question whether you were just dreaming.
On the art, Joe’s right, Kotian does an amazing job. However, I can not tell a lie, I did not get the full effect. No one’s fault…well…except the archaic nature of the comic retail model. See for a book to make it to store shelves it must be issued in Previews. Previews comes out 3 months before the books are published. Previews gives shit details on what the book is about, so retailers have no means to separate the wheat from the chafe and ordering becomes a game of Russian Roulette, especially with #1s. So, it’s up to reviewers like myself to look at books while they are still in production so retailer’s decisions can ultimately benefit you when you walk into he shop. On one hand it’s awesome, we get to see liner notes, editor cut sheets and other behind the scenes detail usually reserved fro deluxe compilations. There are a few times, my review of the rough cut even swayed the final direction, as was the case with Diggle & jock’s, SNAPSHOT. I, and my review cohorts gushed so much over the black and whites the boys just skipped the coloring. On the other hand, I don’t get to see cool stuff like…color and rich fine Corinthian inks. So, yes, from what I saw of Kotian’s work in skeletal form made me beyond intrigued to see how much richer the details of this world become once the finish and polish is applied.
Joe’s Comics continues to be a welcome beacon for new comic fans. It’s separatist view of titles keeps constraining continuity off the table while an eclectic mix of themes can satiate the thirst of most readers’ favorite genres. I will say though, the universe has a gap. All of the protagonists in this universe are maudlin solitary sufferers. I’d like to present a challenge, I want to see a family book. Not the dysfunctional families of SIDEKICK or PROTECTOR’S INK, I mean a true family, an intricate lattice of inseparable personalities nor matter how dystopian their trials and tribulations become. Or don’t, I’ll still pick up every damn issue until Joe stops writing them.