- Posted by Johanna on February 2, 2014 at 10:28 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by Lora Innes
- PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing; $19.99 US
The third collection of the webcomic The Dreamer is due out April 1 (earlier in comic stores, where it can be preordered with Diamond code JAN14 0516). It concludes the story arc “The Consequence of Nathan Hale”, which is also the subtitle of the first collection.
The Dreamer is the story of Beatrice, a high school girl who, when she falls asleep, finds herself back in Revolutionary War times. She’s been kidnapped by British soldiers, and as the first book opens, she’s being rescued by Alan Warren, a childhood friend who now has a more complicated relationship with her. He’s accompanied by Captain Nathan Hale, a historical figure she doesn’t recognize.
Meanwhile, back in the present, she finally has hopes of dating the football player she’s had a crush on, and they’re both trying out for the school play. Involved with two fine men, she’s confused by caring for both of them.
It’s a fascinating premise, and author Lora Innes puts lots of emphasis on Beatrice’s feelings and how a teen girl would react to being in a historical war situation, complete with adult romance. That makes it a good read for young women who should enjoy the blend of adventure and soap opera. In that way, it’s almost an American shojo manga.
There’s one big difference, though. The modern-day story doesn’t move very fast, and some may be frustrated by the lack of explanation of how and why all this is happening. These three volumes contain the equivalent of 17 comic issues, and for that much space, while the reading experience is enjoyable, I reached the end wishing there’d been a bit more revealed about what, exactly, is going on. Our uncertainty mirrors how Beatrice’s friends and family worry about her, and it may be the case that we’re supposed to be as confused as she is about whether any of this is real. (It always seemed clear to me, though, based on Innes’ portrayal, that Beatrice is time-traveling, not just dreaming.)
Innes clearly enjoys writing about that long-ago time period, and her various references to battles and locations gives me the impression that she’s done a lot of research. I’m not sure all of it needs to be on the page, though. Personally, I kept getting most of the soldiers confused with each other, since many of them look similar and it’s a lot of history to keep straight. Perhaps it’s that I could relate better to the modern-day world, particularly with the authentic-sounding dialogue for the teen characters.
On the other hand, by the end of this trilogy, Innes has set up fascinating new twists for Beatrice and her other characters in both time periods. Book three opens with play-by-play battlefield scenes, and the reader thinks that a death is coming. One does, but it’s a case of misdirection. Meanwhile, Nathan Hale heads out on his spy mission. (That’s not a spoiler, if you know anything about famous quotes, although he shows up in Beatrice’s history class as a “forgotten figure”.) A substantial section of story presents a flashback to Alan Warren’s early life, showing how he came to be an officer in the Revolutionary Army and met Beatrice back then, filling in the gaps before the first book began.
Given the pacing, I recommend reading these three books together, if you can. You can find out more at the webcomic website.