An awful lot of fiction has drawn from one’s search for revenge to fuel the narrative. Heck, even Bruce Wayne himself capitalized psychologically on the loss of his parents by using that seminal event as inspiration for what he would become – the ultimate crime-fighting machine. Is it a natural human impulse to see wrongs put right, or is this some deep, dark skill we’re only too willing to teach ourselves if and when the time is right? Thankfully, audiences seek out this thrill vicariously, though Dream Thief John Lincoln might pay the ultimate price for inheriting a psychic skill that puts him up-close-and-personal to exacting retribution.
(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 advertisement: “John Lincoln has to break two men out of two separate prisons … simultaneously! While plotting elaborate revenge against his tormentor, Patricio Brown-Eagle, will he have any time to share with the father he never knew? Or will the ghosts get a hold of the Dream Thief first?”
Perhaps one of the most surprising developments right outta the gate with DREAM THIEF: ESCAPE is the cover: gone is the dark, deep, and somber mystery of the first issue, and – in its place – is a splash of brighter colors and a Miami Vice motif. What that might mean will probably remain more of a mystery until further events unfold (unless it’s little more than a creative nod to the locale of this chapter’s prologue set in Miami Beach), but otherwise this tale is developing quite nicely.
Writer Jai Nitz layers on a nifty flashback that serves to flesh out the characters of his little opus, and he even manages to bring out everything right-minded people hated about the 80’s (leather jackets, Mohawk haircuts, unglamorous pool halls, etc.) in giving the circumstances greater depth. There’s a terrific little dark vignette here about what can go wrong if a vengeful spirit cannot achieve a measure of justice: you might be surprised at just how crazy one Thief can go.
Greg Smallwood’s visuals are no little thing (get the pun?) as we’re treated to some locations rendered depressingly extraordinary despite the commonplace set-up. A roadside stop off the Florida turnpike has rarely looked as treacherous, and the calm, cool lines of the prison visitors’ center might seem almost uncharacteristically efficient. Orange is the new blah!
John Lincoln shows that he can put the skills and memories of those who have previously possessed him to his own personal use, and that’s largely what gives this installment greater life. He goes to work setting a prison break in motion, but readers will probably predict nothing is going to unfurl as smoothly as the antihero might have planned. There’s a terrific development in this issue’s closing pages that will undoubtedly reshape the tale in ways readers probably didn’t see coming, and it almost commands everyone to be here in thirty days to see how it’ll all play out!
DREAM THIEF: ESCAPE (#2 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. More of the same as what was served up in the first issue gets a bit more depth as Lincoln starts to unravel family secrets that stretch beyond the grave.
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 (#2 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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