A rogue soldier is on a quest for a missing boy, one who may hold a key to defeat the Faceless Queen. All of her forces are out to stop him, and he must use every reserve of wit and tact to outsmart the enemy. Only…none of it is real; it all exists in the dream state of a homeless old man looking for his son. Parasomnia #1 blurs the line between dream and reality, presenting vastly different versions of the same protagonist.
Dark Horse’s Parasomnia teams up horror extraordinaire Cullen Bunn and hand-drawn-watercolor-master Andrea Mutti for this comic that is equal parts The Dregs and Sandman. Such a talented duo promises excellence, but this first issue might leave some readers left wanting.
First, let’s address that phrase “first issue.” This issue is marked as a number one, and yet, there are a lot of aspects about this that would have made “issue zero” a more logical choice. The issue reads blazingly fast, due in large part to the several action sequences that play out. When we’re not in the dream state, we’re vaguely introduced to various members of the cast. All in all, this plays out more like a movie trailer than a story. Pair that with the solicit at the end of the issue that advertises the comic, and you’re left wondering why they went with “#1.”
Speaking of the solicit at the end, I honestly missed the connection between the two worlds. In hindsight, it’s almost right there on the cover, but that visual parallel could mean a lot of things. I was expecting something a little more akin to Gideon Falls, and it wasn’t until that solicit at the end that I realized this was the dream state of the old man (or is it???). Additionally, we spend so much time in the dream state that when we go back to the modern-day settings to meet various characters, it almost feels superfluous. I wasn’t all that interested in their drama, especially since it’s only vaguely introduced.
The artwork is spectacular, and I love the aforementioned hand-drawn and watercolor feel for this genre. The action flows clearly, and the various moments where minimal colors are used emphasize the gut punch of the scene, both metaphorical and literal.
Parasomnia #1 feels like a good dream–only a dream that wasn’t good enough that you can remember clearly. Perhaps introducing this as a “zero” instead of a “one” might have helped the hazy story this issue introduced, but I have faith the creative team can turn it around for the second issue. The pitfall there, of course, is that many readers might have already woken up and moved on with their day.