The Dreaming: Waking Hours #3 continues to play a fantastic, two world balancing act as single mom/struggling academic Lindy tries to solve the Shakespeare authorship question in the Dreaming surrounded by different versions of the Bard of Avon while Ruin, Jophiel, and the sorceress Heather try to get her out of there. G. Willow Wilson, Nick Robles, and Mat Lopes take what were personally my favorite bits of Sandman (The Shakespeare appearances/historical flashbacks) and put their own compelling spin on it through the addition of their original creations, Lindy and Ruin, who is nightmare that doesn’t want to scare anyone and came to the waking world to be with the man he loves.
Depending on the setting (Shakespeare’s part of The Dreaming, Box of Nightmares, New Jersey), Nick Robles and Mat Lopes switch up their art style and color palette. This makes for engaging reading. These stylistic shifts also mirror plot points and how characters are feeling, especially in the Dreaming which can go from Lindy giving an earnest soliloquy about her decision process into becoming a single mom and struggles into academia to a laid back, double page spread of her enjoying a world that’s just different versions of Shakespeare hanging out, making out, and enjoying life. Lindy’s name drop of Aristophanes’ The Clouds in this scene isn’t just G. Willow Wilson flexing her literary knowledge, but acts as a kind of warning to our protagonist to not get caught up in the theoretical and lose sight of being reunited with her child and, ugh, her thesis in the Waking World.
The art goes from idyllic, even semi-utopian to intense and terrifying when Wilson, Robles, and Lopes check in on The Dreaming: Waking Hours‘ plotlines that don’t involve Lindy and the Shakespeares. Heather has the bright idea of sneaking Jophiel and Ruin through Faerie to get to the Dreaming, but as anyone who has read any classic fairy tales or Vertigo comics, this backfires on them thanks to her ineptitude with magic. (For example, Jophiel was originally summoned because of a spelling error.) In keeping with the Shakespearean theme, Nick Robles does a pure horror take on the mischievous Puck from A Midsummer’s Night Dream, and Mat Lopes uses hot greens and blues to show how close they are to losing control over him. Getting back to the Dreaming isn’t so easy, and the method of their return is Wilson and Robles’ current hook for upcoming issues.
This is reinforced by a watercolor interlude set in the Box of Nightmares that connects directly to plot points in Sandman and gives a glimpse into how Daniel, Morpheus’ successor as Dream of the Endless, runs things. This sequence also features some of Nick Robles’ and Mat Lopes’ most gorgeous art that shows the dark and otherworldly nature of this region, and its rigidity compared to the light and airy cartooning in the other parts of the comic. It’s more Dave McKean than Bill Sienkiewicz, for sure, and re-establishes the seriousness of what Lindy, Heather, Jophiel, and Ruin are going up against.
Nick Robles using watercolors versus pen and ink also acts as a kind of visual metaphor for the theme of chaos versus order that undergirds The Dreaming: Waking Hours #3, and by extension, all human life. Most folks can’t plan out their entire lives or adhere rigidly to one role like some of the more compliant nightmares in The Dreaming. They are more like Lindy or Ruin, who have to deal with issues like an unexpected pregnancy, the terrible academic job market, or dealing with a job they don’t fit in at. (Being a nightmare in this case.) Robles’ art style matching the content and themes of The Dreaming: Waking Hours makes it even more compelling and adds depth to the main characters beyond G. Willow Wilson’s excellent, insightful dialogue. (I love her comparison of adjunct/visiting professor work to monastic life.)
The Dreaming: Waking Hours #3 features magic, even more chaos, surprise cameos, and a visually striking look at human problems through angels, anthropomorphic embodiments, witches, fairies, and dead authors. G. Willow Wilson, Nick Robles, and Mat Lopes have crafted both memorable characters and settings, and I care equally as much about Lindy, Ruin, Jophiel, and even Heather as I do about their take on the Shakespeare authorship question and additions to the Sandman mythos.
Story: G. Willow Wilson Art: Nick Robles
Colors: Mat Lopes Letters: Simon Bowland
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics/DC Black Label provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review