Brendan McCarthy recently had his Dream Gang volumes from DHP #1–#4, #7–#10, and #14–#17 collected into a brand new TPB from Dark Horse and I got hold of a review copy to get lost in.
The cover alone tells you that this is not your standard run-of-the-mill release as it’s coming from the co-writer of Mad Max: Fury Road from early in 2015 and it’s reminiscent of his earlier release The Zaucer of Zilk through Rebellion/IDW. Dream Gang tells the story of Patrick and while it opens in what seems to be a fairly accurate depiction of a mundane life……..the real adventure begins when he goes to sleep and starts to dream.
It’s here in his dreams that he takes the form of his avatar the last Dream Voyager and he arrives at just the right time as the evil Zeirio hatches his plot to run amok throughout the Dreamlands and smash his way through to the real world. It’s a Wizard of Oz opening as the bleak black & white of life gives way to a rich vibrant world in his dreams but the added danger soon sees him needing help from the newly formed Dream Gang and they soon set their sights on Zeirio.
The thing is, it’s not just a simple case of good vs evil because that notion seems far too linear a description for Dream Gang. It’s a mix of dreams, nightmares, good, bad and everything in between but Patrick himself has a voyage of discovery to go through on top of the adventure of fighting the good fight and this takes him to the brink of consciousness as his real world memories start to creep into the very different world he finds himself in. The glimpse of these poignant elements from his past adds extra credence to the messed up Dreamlands as there seems to be no escape from the real life worries that sleep promises.
There’s no doubting the risks to Dreamlands though and Brendan does a phenomenal job at weaving these ideas together as conscious and subconscious blur together to make them both more tangible. Patrick emerges from these more solemn moments with a deeper sense of purpose and facing evil head-on seems the most logical step in what started out as an illogical world. It’s a fun & perilous ride from the beginning and as real life begins to creep in again there’s a much-welcome open-ended finale that gives hope that we could see more of the Dream Gang from McCarthy.
I could tell you that Dream Gang is good but that wouldn’t go far enough and I don’t even think that saying this is great would be far enough either. This is a fantastic book from Brendan that takes a jumbled up set of ideas and gives them all a common thread that makes this work on every level possible. Engaging characters, mind-blowing art that’s really emphasized with the black & white opening that screams “LOOK AT ME!” as it explodes from the pages and that all adds up to the type of book that NEEDS this type of collected edition. A hidden gem of a book from Dark Horse with some bonus material in this collected edition that helps emphasize the depth in the ideas we see in it making this a release that’s well worth reading again & again.
Go check out more on Brendan’s comic, film & TV work over on his website and go get yourself a copy of Dream Gang at your nearest Comic Book shop ASAP!