Review: THE DREAMING: WAKING HOURS #4
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Nick Robles
Colours: Mat Lopes
Letters: Simon Bowland
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
The Dreaming: Waking Hours #4: Ruin has traveled to Worlds’ End to seek help from the denizen of the Dreaming who set him free in the first place…unfortunately, Brute and Glob have followed him there-on the orders of Dream himself! And back in the Dreaming, Lindy has taken on the challenge of discovering who the “true” Shakespeare is, via a staging of the apocryphal play The Birth Of Merlyn. But when you tell a tale inside the Dreaming, it has a strange way of becoming very real indeed…
In The Dreaming: Waking Hours #4, Lindy Morris has the various versions of William Shakespeare put on a performance of “The Birth of Merlyn”. Her theory is that this give her some insight that will allow her to figure out which of these Shakespeares is the real one. This will then hopefully bring her dream to an end, allowing her to finally wake up and resume her normal life.
Even though the play fails to give her any such insight, it actually does lead to her discovering the true William Shakespeare. The real Bard of Avon reveals that the play was the work of another author. His knowledge about the play’s true provenance leads Lindy to reveal that he is the true Shakespeare.
It might seem a bit of a letdown that none of the more exotic Shakespearean authorship theories had any truth to them after all. However, it seems deliciously ironic the of all the possible versions of history’s foremost is the least dramatic one of the bunch.
It also raises an interesting question. Did Shakespeare become a denizen of the Dreaming when he died? Or is this a dream who is an echo of the real Shakespeare. I think it really may be the Bard. Alter all, he did have dealings with Morpheus, and we know that humans sometimes go on to become dreams. And if any human is deserving of the distinction, it would be William Shakespeare.
At first, I was a bit puzzled at how Lindy’s appearance. It almost looked as if she was pregnant this issue. I wondered if this was an artistic error, or if I had somehow not noticed in the earlier chapters of the story. However, looking back at issue #3 confirmed that she didn’t appear the slightest bit pregnant before Waking Hours #4.
But this proved to be no artistic error either, as the story took a turn for the bizarre. Immediately after learning the truth about Shakespeare, Lindy gives birth to an adult man. Not only is he fully grown, he appears to be ancient, with a flowing white beard. It seems that Lindy enacted “The Birth of Merlyn” in a much more literal manner than she wanted to.
I know that anything is possible in a Dream, but this certainly seemed to come from out of left field. G. Willow Wilson certain caught my attention with this development. Now, I am dying to find out what this signifies, and how it fits in to the rest of her story.
Last issue, Heather failed to get Ruin back into the Dreaming via the realm of Faerie. But this issue, she manages to get the nightmare to Worlds’ End, which is an inn that sits at a nexus point of all planes of reality. There he meets some familiar faces. The first is Dora, who we learn is the one who freed Ruin. But he also encounters Brute and Glob, who have been sent by Dream to recapture him.
I love how much we are seeing from previous stories here. Dora, of course, featured in the previous incarnation of The Dreaming. Worlds’ End featured in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman #51-56. In that storyline, also called “Worlds’ End”, the inn served as the backdrop for a number of individual stories told by the inn’s customers. And Brute and Glob not only appeared in Gaiman’s Sandman series, but were also in Jack Kirby’s Sandman series in the 1970s. I love that Wilson is incorporating elements of the mythos, both recent and old.
In nearly any other series, the big surprise this issue would be totally unbelievable and bizarre to be believable. However, since it happened within the Dreaming, strange, unexplainable occurrences are not only possible, but are almost expected. So, I can accept the logical possibility. However, it remains to be seen if it makes any sense with respect to the narrative. However, I trust that Wilson has a reason for Lindy giving birth to a full-grown Merlyn other than throwing it in for shock value.
When I started reading this series, I thought I had a grasp on the what to expect from G. Willow Wilson’s story. However, having reached The Dreaming; Waking Hours #4, I have to admit I that I haven’t a clue what to expect from the remaining eight issues – but I’m loving every moment of it. This is one of the strangest, but most compelling stories I have ever read.