As I mentioned last month in my review of J. Michael Straczynski’s Dream Police #1, he is one of my favourite writers currently in the business, and every time I read his work, I am impressed with his creative scope and his writing and everything. Of course, it also helps that Sid Kotian turned out some really good artwork in the first issue, and made Dream Police a title to stick with for however long it runs, and I’m personally hoping that the series hits double digits and then just keeps going on for a few years. I’d love that.
With this past week’s Dream Police #2, JMS and Kotian go for an increased scope of the setting and also give us a lot of information on the protagonists and the Dreamscape itself. We learn lots of new details and each offers something entirely different and come together in the end for a strong and cohesive whole. It has the level of writing I have come to expect from JMS and the artwork by Sid Kotian is turning me into a fan. In full honesty, Dream Police #2 is definitely a better and stronger title than its predecessor.
The first issue of the series focused on the characters more than it did on the setting, and I found that be a good approach, though I was left with a desire to learn more about the world, this Dreamscape that the protagonist Joe Thursday inhabits. And lo behold, JMS delivers on that very thing with the second issue. The characters don’t take a backseat to the setting here, but JMS weaves it all together much more strongly so that the cohesiveness of the entire issue is that much better. Besides, with everything that happens here, there’s no way that I couldn’t be impressed.
At the end of the first issue, we saw that Joe’s partner had been gender-switched at the end. The effect was that Frank Stafford had asking too many questions about the nature of the Dreamscape and thus whoever controlled the reality of the Dreamscape then made him disappear completely and replaced him with Kate Black, and Joe has no memory of the switch and as far as he knows, Kate has always been his partner. That was a downright freaky twist-cliffhanger and while JMS doesn’t get into any sort of explanation about the switch, or exploring it further, he stills hows how close Kate is to Frank in terms of her attitude to the Dream Scape, and is yet able to skirt the boundaries much better than him.
In fact, thinking about it, I’d say that she appears to be more an agent provocateur rather than a good and proper cop as Frank and Joe were/are. It all just means that the story in this issue is that much more intriguing because you always have to wonder just what exactly is Kate’s place in the grand scheme of things and why was Frank even replaced in the first place.
All of that ties into the nature of the Dreamscape however and as some of the more unusual situations start to build-up, we get deeper and deeper into the setting, and JMS continually outdoes himself with all the ideas that he has condensed into this this issue. He packs a lot of things together here, and yet none of it feels like he is doing too much. He is a careful plotter and storyteller, as evidenced by this issue. Now if only the series can continue along the same path and continue to develp like this, then I’ll be a seriously happy reader. JMS can definitely do that, I feel.
Sid Kotian is the penciller here, like I said, but Hi-Fi has replaced Bill Farmer as the colourist, though Troy Peteri remains onboard as the letterer. I liked Bill’s colours in the last issue, and while I miss his work, Hi-Fi turns in something consistent and similar, so its not too much of a change there. There is much more visual depth and detail to the characters this time around, I feel, and that works quite well given that this is all noir-style visuals, and depth and detail work really well in noir.
So that’s Dream Police #2, a strong sequel to a strong number one.
More Dream Police: #1.