[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Bilquis Evely
Colours: Mat Lopes
Letters: Simon Bowland
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Merv Pumpkinhead ain’t happy.
Sure, Merv Pumpkinhead doesn’t exactly radiate happy at the best of times, but now? Right now a bunch of blank-faced strangers from between realities are taking local jobs; foreign criminals are profiteering at the realm’s expense; and the VIPs seem more interested in themselves than getting back to the “good old days.”
The Dreaming used to be somewhere a vegetable-headed guy could be proud to call home, y’know?
Fact is, Merv Pumpkinhead’s been pushed too far. It’s time for change. Right at the top.
The Dreaming is an ensemble title, and in this issue, Mervyn Pumpkinhead takes center-stage. As the Dreaming’s handyman, Merv finds it impossible to see that things are going bad in Dream’s realm. But he’s just finding out how bad things are.
And things are really bad. Lucien not only seems to be distracted and overworked, but he’s overstepping his authority. Lucien discorporates Merv’s crew and is messing around in Dream’s Black Chest, where, as Merv puts it, “all the scary shit goes.”
And then there is the being known as Dora. She admits to not knowing what she is exactly, but it seems to be something sinister. In an encounter with Matthew, she reveals that she can sense fear in other beings, and is able to deduce that Dream is missing from Matthew’s terror.
However Abel, as keeper of secrets, knows what she is. But he’s only able to get out, “She’s actually a h–” before Cain silences his brother. Whatever she is, Lucien and Matthew seem to think she’s powerful enough to locate Dream despite his not wanting to be found.
And then there’s the Cuckoo’s warning: “The walls are weak. Something’s worming in.” Could this be referring to whatever is attacking the dreaming, or yet another threat?
And finally, when Merv discovers that Dream has abandoned the Dreaming, he makes a very dangerous and foreboding decision. He releases Judge Gallows, a nightmare that represents strict ,unrelenting and unfeeling frontier justice.
Gallows is a longtime DC character. Originally he narrated stories in the original Unexpected horror anthology series. He was brought back in the previous incarnation of The Dreaming, where, in his madness, he condemned Matthew, Cain, and Abel to death before meeting his own fate. Merv tasking Gallows to deliver his judgment on the denizens of the Dreaming does not bode well.
I was a bit disappointed that no more was revealed about Dream’s disappearance. I am dying to know why he left and what he’s planning to do. However, the focus of the series is on the Dreaming and its inhabitants, so his absence prevents him from pulling that focus onto himself.
However, that being said, his absence in itself draws attention. It’s a burning question that begs for an answer. I hope that we will find out more as the series progresses and that this isn’t left as an open question.
This title has taken the formula that has served DC well in recent years of revisiting their past, but moving the story forward from there. It is a delight to return to the Dreaming and reunite with Neil Gaiman’s characters. But, there are new and mysterious threats that promise to keep the story exciting.