So long as there have been ghosts there have been questions of what purposes these spirits ultimately serve. While a handful of theories exist, it’s generally been accepted that those who have departed but have yet to successfully ‘cross over’ are stuck perilously close to this plane of existence due to some unfinished business. Many times, this unfinished business takes the shape of matters wherein the deceased were grievously wronged wrong while still mortal. Some were tortured. Some were robbed. But almost all of them ended up dead over some final act, and it’s the balancing of those wrongs with some kind of existential ‘right’ that traps them in the aether.
Many franchises have explored this idea. On television, shows like SUPERNATURAL and THE GHOST WHISPERER have frequently made great mileage in revisiting such dark circumstances; so you knew it was only a matter of time before comic books followed suit.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product advertisements: “Like his father before him, John Lincoln is a Dream Thief, possessed by vengeful spirits while he sleeps -- a deadly instrument of revenge! Now he must defend the felon possessed by his father’s ghost … and get revenge against his killer!”
There really isn’t all that much ado that can be made about DREAM THIEF: ESCAPE, and that doesn’t mean this is bad news in the slightest. Rather, I’ve often found it particularly refreshing when any title basically delivers on what it promises: serve up what looks to be a wild ride, and just have fun with it. ESCAPE starts out quickly, dropping the reader into the heart of two men taking steps to have a wrong righted, and then it clarifies all of the necessary elements to make perfect sense of what went down on the previous pages. Author Jai Nitz certainly appears to have a game plan built on economy, and no panel is wasted in moving the story forward. The artwork as provided by Greg Smallwood deals mostly in shadows and Earth-tones – despite the subject matter, it’s pretty clear this team wants everything visually rooted in the modern world. Together, they build this story up to a modest cliffhanger that promises a greater challenge lurks right around the corner (in thirty days).
DREAM THIEF: ESCAPE (#1 OF 4) is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is written by Jai Nitz; while the art, lettering & cover are by Greg Smallwood. It all comes with a cover price of $3.99, still a bargain so far as this long-time comic book reader is concerned.
RECOMMENDED. Even though I was unfamiliar with the 2013 miniseries introducing the characters and situations of this unique criminal universe, DREAM THIEF: ESCAPE wasn’t all that hard to follow. Basically, there’s a mask and some inherited supernatural abilities that grant our narrator – John Lincoln – the chance to ‘step out of his body’ while restless spirits of the dearly departed make use of his skills to extract vengeance against those who ‘done them wrong.’ The art is understandably gritty; the tone is necessarily cynical; and the pace is quick and dirty. By the last page of this first issue, everyone should be up-to-speed if not aching for what comes next.
In the interests of fairness, I’m please to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with a digital reading copy of DREAM THIEF: ESCAPE (#1 OF 4) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.
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