Parasomnia: The Dreaming God isn’t one of the easiest Dark Horse books to understand. First of all, if you ended up missing the first four issue mini-series that began this story you’re going to be absolutely lost, as this is less of a sequel series and more of the next chapter in the same story. But even if you have read the previous five issues in this tale the second issue of Parasomnia: The Dreaming God might still leave you scratching your head somewhat.
As a rough breakdown, this series is about a family that was split apart when their son was kidnapped from his room one night. The boy had magical powers, whereby he could create and shape a vast, complex dreamworld, and those who’ve experienced it the once seem to be able to access it again even if he’s not around. After his disappearance, his parents split up, and whilst his mother has spent the time since searching for him wherever she can, the father, Grover, has ended up living on the streets, searching to clues to his son’s whereabouts in the dream world.
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This dream world was at first shaped like some dark fantasy nightmare, and Grover spent his time fighting monsters and teaming up with a Native American tracker who may have once begun in the real world, but has been in the dream world for years. Over time they found information about a Faceless Queen, who has the child. And in the real world the mother is targeted by the cult who kidnapped him, forcing her to go on the run.
All this was changed in the last issue, where the fantasy world shifted into a cyberpunk setting, and Grover got roped into some industrial espionage. This issue he comes face to face with the titular Dreaming God, a child-like figure who, in the dream world, is an AI construct created to know everything, and could be used to find his son – maybe? I don’t know if it’s just me, but the whole point of the dream world and everything that’s happening in it seems to be becoming more and more muddled and confused.
I’m not really sure why Grover wants this dream AI God, why the kid is able to help him to find his son, why the dream world is turning against him with different dream people trying to kill him. The series was always complex, and even in the first arc it was holding back answers and leaving a lot to the audience’s imaginations, but this feels like it’s being deliberately obtuse now. Not a whole lot feels like it’s happened this issue, and of the things that did happen I couldn’t really tell you what it was, or if it was important.
I think that perhaps this is one of the bigger problems with some titles from Dark Horse. Dark Horse like to release four to six issue mini-series, and will split bigger stories into arcs that come out as separate titles that have four to six issues with months gaps between each title, where it could have all been one series. There doesn’t seem to be a reason why this is issue two of the second Parasomnia series, when it reads like it should have been the sixth issue of the first series. It doesn’t help readers to keep up with the story, and in series where the story is very complex, like this one, it can lead to a lot of confusion in the reader.
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The art, once again provided by Andrea Mutti, looks fine, though there are a few moments that stood out as a bit weird. There’s a scene where background elements use actual photographs with a slight filter over them, which stood out on the page like a sore thumb, and the AI child looked a bit creepy at times. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but the book is telling us this is a boy, but he looks like a creepy middle-aged dude at times. It certainly added to the horrible feeling of the dream world.
Parasomnia: The Dreaming God is a complex, and sometimes obtuse read, where it seems intent to keep important information away from the reader. Sadly, it feels like explanations and answers will be slow to come, as six issues into the story, and two into this series, it’s still hard to understand everything that’s happening.
Parasomnia: The Dreaming God #2 is out now from Dark Horse.