One of the most creative minds in entertainment today, Brendan McCarthy has been responsible/played a part in some of the most memorable work in comics and film in recent memory. From his great collaborations over the years with Peter Milligan (see The Best of Milligan & Mccarthy) to his covers on Shade The Changing Man to his amazing tribute to Steve Ditko in Spider-Man: Fever right up to his ground-breaking co-writing/character and vehicle design work on the phenomenally successful film Mad Max: Fury Road, it would be fair to call him a visionary in all his chosen fields. Dream Gang is one of his latest comic projects. Originally serialised in Dark Horse Presents, the entire story is now collected in graphic novel format to be enjoyed in a single read.
After a long boring day dealing with data, rain, and crowded commutes, our protagonist drops off to sleep. But any aspirations of a good night’s sleep fall quickly out of the window when he finds himself trapped in the Dreamworlds. It is there he awakens as the last Dream Voyager, as a psychic bomb threatens all humanity and the evil Zeirio goes on a rampage. With all this chaos, it is up to a new generation of the Dream Gang to put him down.
As to be expected from McCarthy, Dream Gang is a visual delight with the usual high degree of creativity and skill present in the artwork. One of McCarthy’s main strengths has always been his great use of colours and this is no exception. The black, white and grey drab look of the real world in the opening pages serve as a great contrast to the world the Dream Voyager occupies when he goes to sleep. Once he’s in the Dreamworld, the familiar vibrant colouring is on full display. And being set in the dream world, it allows McCarthy to go even crazier with his colour palette than usual and literally every detail pops of the page as a result.
All other aspects of the art more than deliver with great layouts and backgrounds (the Dreamworld is mostly a blast of colours and thought bubbles), sequentials, and some truly great character designs (particularly the nightmares and the dream avatars people in the real world use). Story wise, everything is very imaginative and paced well. McCarthy presents a great interpretation of dream and nightmares – and how they are unique to different people (when the Dream Voyager first arrives in the Dreamworld, he is a young child and one of his allies Slumbra who is normally a drunken homeless man is represented by an avatar of his dead dog).
Any fans of Brendan McCarthy should pick this up immediately as it delivers on every aspect you’d expect. Anyone else who’s up for seeing a great creative look at dreams, their contrast with the real world and some of the coolest art in comics should also give it a go.