Slumber #1 is published by Image Comics, written by Tyler Burton Smith, with art by Vanessa Cardinali, colors by Simon Robins, and letters by Steve Wands. New York City is witness to a series of bizarre and brutal murders. Each one is perpetrated by a different killer with no connection to the others save one thing. Each person claims they were asleep when they murdered their victim. And at each crime scene writ in the blood is a single demand. Whatever is causing this is searching for something or someone called The Dream Eater. But can Detective Finch uncover the mystery behind these killings before another life is lost?
Slumber #1 splits its narrative into two halves. The first focuses on Detective Finch and the ongoing NYPD investigation into the strange murders that plague the city. Finch feels like your classic, unorthodox detective. Called in despite being suspended, Finch gives the gruff “I don’t care” first impression that is common for a murder mystery lead. And the way he lacks any significant reaction to the grizzly murder scene he is brought in on does a great job of establishing his experience level without wasting dialogue having someone recite his file.
Much like this side of the story’s lead, most of this part of Slumber #1‘s tale is well-executed, if not overly original. Although to be fair, there is only so much one can do to make crime scene investigations feel new, so the lack of too much originality in these moments is understandable.
While the police side of Slumber #1 feels fairly by the numbers, it is the other half of the book that is the main show. Here, the story introduces Stetson, a unique therapist who goes into people’s dreams and cures them of their nightmares. And by cures, I mean takes a shotgun to the offending part of the client’s subconscious.
Stetson is a hard character to describe. While Smith’s writing gives the initial impression that she is a pure hardcase with little time for anything save her objectives, those particular objectives leave the undeniable impression that there is probably a good reason for her fixations and cold distance from others. The reasoning behind her motivations and how they connect her to the main story are the biggest hooks for me to want to learn more.
Much like the story itself, Slumber #1‘s art is solid in all regards but truly shines when it follows Stetson into the twisted mindscapes of her client’s nightmares. Cardinali does a fabulous job of designing the nightmarish threats that Stetson confronts in these sequences. The coloring further helps these scenes stand out as colorist Robins leaves the more muted palette utilized in the real world behind for more striking colors that help augment the surrealness of the nightmares.
Lastly, we have the lettering. While the lettering does a great job of guiding the reader through the panels and story of the book, I feel like it largely plays it too safe when it comes to design. With only one exception, every character utilizes the same basic dialogue design throughout this story. Given how off-the-wall this story gets, it would’ve been that final extra oomph to the book’s tone to see the letters reflect this energy more.
When all is said and done, Slumber #1 does a great job introducing readers to its mysterious, bizarre world while also planting some great plot hooks to entice them to return.
Slumber #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.
Slumber #1 does a great job introducing readers to its mysterious, bizarre world while also planting some great plot hooks to entice them to return.