Current Reviews


Dreamland Chronicles #1

Posted: Sunday, April 4, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer and Artist: Scott Christian Sava
Publisher: Astonish Comics

The Plot:
The book opens with a young man by the name of Alex detailing the dreams of a fantasy realm, and we see these dreams were brought to an abrupt end eight years ago when he pulled an evil sword from a stone, and was attacked by the dragon that guarded it. after a package from home includes a sword necklace that mysteriously appeared on his neck after that last dream, we see before going to sleep that night Alex puts this necklace around his neck. That night his dreams have him returning to the fantasy realm where it would appear eight years have also passed.

The Good:
A very charming debut issue as Scott Christian Sava has tapped into the childhood fantasy plot idea of being able to visit a magical realm. I mean it's hardly a novel concept as it's been the plot device of countless stories from the "Wizard of Oz", to the more recent "Spirited Away", but this opening issue does a pretty fair job of charting its own course thanks to a novel twist of having the character revisit the place as an adult, as the only other story that springs to mind as having used a similar plot device was the film "Hook", which had a grown Peter Pan return to Never-Never Land, and while I found the idea interesting, that film never quite captured the feel that this was a character returning to a world from his childhood. However, this opening issue looks quite promising, as the opening sequence that details Alex's last visit to this realm did a great job of setting up the idea that he was a child. There's a very really sense of wonder established and also a sense of dread as we come to realize that this was his last visit. This opening also manage to nicely set up the real world elements of Alex's life outside this fantasy realm, as one has to smile at his awkward bid to secure a date with the woman who was asking his about his dream, and the sibling rivalry with his brother is also well realized. His return to the fantasy realm in the final pages was also well done, as it nicely shows how he's changed from his last visit, with his amusing attempt to make conversation with the mermaids. The last page also offers up a fun surprise, that has me looking forward to the next issue.

The computer generated art stands up as this book's strongest selling point, as while the story is quite entertaining, the art is what leaves me impressed. I mean I've seen computer generated art on other comics, including Scott Christian Sava's own work on a Spider-Man miniseries a while back, but his work on this issue stands up as the single most impressive technical achievement I've seen, and it actually convinced me that computer generated art can stand proudly beside the pencil/ink art that I'm spent my comic reading life embracing. This issue is the "Toy Story" of comic books, as it's the first time my eyes have been opened to the potential of the computer generated style. There's some lovely work in these pages from the wonderfully defused lighting effects that give the art a uncanny three-dimensional quality, to the simple fact that the art is quite imaginative when it comes to it's delivery of the fantasy elements of the story, from the giant that threatens the village in the opening sequence, to the village that Alex stumbles his way into in the final pages. The scenes set in the real world also have a photo-realistic quality to them that's positively scary.

The Bad:
To make use of another Peter Pan analogy, what this book really needs is a Captain Hook. I mean this opening issue introduces us to our lead character, nicely establishes the supporting cast, and most importantly it gives us a good look at the fantasy world that our hero is going to move through. However, what it doesn't accomplish is establish an evil counterpart for our hero to face, and leave a sense with the readers that there is a downside to Alex making a return to this fantasy realm. Now I realize people will point to the fact our hero's life is endangered by a giant and a dragon in this opening issue, but they are simply obstacles that the hero has to overcome rather than villains, and the book doesn't exactly help it's case by having Alex wake up when the dragon is poised to lash out at him, which in turn also leaves me a bit concerned that when things get too dicey for our hero to deal with Scott Christian Sava is going to pull this parachute instead of coming up with a scene that displays Alex's effectiveness as a hero. Now my concern about the lack of a villain are somewhat eased by the notion that Alex is in possession of a sword that has been labeled "evil" and as such I'm somewhat hopeful that this sword will play the role that the one ring played in the "Lord of the Rings", as an object that is eagerly sought by the forces of evil that also acts to corrupt our hero with its evil influence. Still it would've been nice to get some sign in this first issue of an evil presence that took note of Alex's return to this fantasy realm, and that it was eager to welcome him back.

The Bigger They Are:
A very solid first issue as we're given a good introduction to this book's premise of a young man who finds himself returning to a fantasy realm at nights that he once visited every night during his childhood. Now the book does need to create a villain as it's lacking the Wicked Witch figure who adds an element of danger to the story. I also found the brother's reaction to Alex's refusal to admit that his nighttime adventures were all dreams to be a bit worrisome as it's far too volatile a reaction, but than again perhaps his anger is being misplaced, and he's simply disappointed that he's the writer, but it's his brother who is coming up with the wildly imaginative ideas. In any event this is a well written bit of work as all the elements are in place for an enjoyable series, and I rather enjoyed the notion that Scott Christian Sava has planned the series to be a twenty-four issue story, as that tells me he has a clearly mapped out story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. This opening issue also manages to do a pretty fair job of introducing readers to the fantasy elements, as the book opens with a fun battle with a towering giant, and his encounter in the final pages with the village of fairies made me smile.

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