Sunday, August 14, 2005


This was a very, very strong first issue... so strong it turned my tummy a bit.

Rick Remender and Kieron Dwyer have put together a lovely, creepy story about a young woman with a gift. Annie Specter can dream lucidly -- she is aware within her dreams -- and, even more, she can enter other people's dreams. But because she uses her abilities in service of her father's clinic, all Mary ever sees are other people's nightmares.

It's not unintentional that Night Mary (get it?) has a monochrome palette during Mary's waking life and is only in full color during dreams. Mary's waking life is all but on hold; her father uses her gift -- abuses it, really -- not so much to serve his patients as to seek a remedy for his catatonic wife by using his patients as honing grounds for Mary. Between her father's demands and the lingering aftereffects of a past case gone horribly wrong, Mary is but a shadow of herself. Her friend Tyler watches with concerned dismay as Mary rebuffs every attempt to fully wake up.

Sharing a few common themes with Wes Dodds from Matt Wagner's spectacular Sandman Mystery Theatre, Mary must decipher the metaphors of the dreamscape into their waking world corresponding parts -- murders, suicides, and other horrors that stain Mary's monochrome world red with blood. Unlike Wes, though, Mary is not sworn to rid the world of evil and she hasn't trained herself to fight it. She's brave, but bravery only goes so far.

Remender's script is quite good for a first issue, only occasionally sounding like it has been visited by the Exposition Fairy and at that very lightly. We get a good grasp of the story and of Mary's two worlds and where future issues may go. Dwyer's art is striking, completely unlike what you may remember from his work on mainstream books like The Avengers, although more similar to his work with Matt Fraction or Steve Niles.

As with all IDW books, this one comes with a bit of sticker shock. But if you've got a sturdy constitution, then $4 is well-spent on this debut.


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