John Lincoln is an average burnout living in Atlanta. He takes recreational drugs, gets drunk every night, and often wakes up not remembering what happened. Then one night, while with his friend at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, John steals an Aborigine mask. The next morning he finds his girlfriend Claire dead, who he killed the night before. Since then, John Lincoln’s world has been turned upside down. Whenever he falls asleep, he brings deadly vengeance to murderers for victims who possess him.
A well-defined origin story
Complex protagonist and supporting characters
Previously in Dream Thief: John Lincoln’s girlfriend Claire has been acting weird the past few weeks, ever since her home was burglarized. To get his mind off Claire, John accompanies his friend, Reggie Harrison, to a party at Fernbank Museum of Natural History. He steals an Aborigine mask and wakes up the next morning to find his girlfriend is dead. John realizes he killed her last night after receiving the memories of Armando Cordero, a former mechanic Claire murdered. She thought he was the burglar, but Armando was innocent. John dumps the bodies and the mask, and pretends Claire had left him. John believes it was the drugs he took that caused him to murder Claire, so he confronts his drug dealer. Thinking the worse has past, John falls asleep, only to wake up in a room full of dead bodies.
HE SEES DEAD PEOPLE
Jai Natz continues the origin story of Dream Thief, as John Lincoln attempts to piece together what is happening to him. The stories follow a basic plot structure, John Lincoln wakes up to find one or more dead bodies. He then spends the entire issue figuring out why he killed them. John Lincoln’s spiritual powers are more defined in this issue: a man possessed by the spirits of unresolved murder victims. His inability to control his powers or remember the murders in his sleep not only makes him less morally culpable but examines the merits of black and white justice. Like many comic book protagonists, John’s origin story begins with the death of a loved one, but the twist is that his girlfriend’s death was fair retribution for her actions, and he was the one who unknowingly killed her. The protagonist is conflicted, feeling guilty after each kill, but also recognizing the murderer deserved justice. However, the victims John is helping beyond the grave are more interesting and complex than the protagonist. In this issue, John Lincoln discovers a drug-smuggling operation posing as a gay porn studio. The victim, Jimmy Oliver, was dismissed from the military after they found out he was gay. The memories of his victims are so powerful that John has to constantly remind himself he is not the victim. John Lincoln’s newfound powers develop his character, giving him many more layers when he tries to deal with them. What makes him different from other vigilantes is his initial normalcy and disinterest in violence or justice. He starts from a very lowly, unheroic origin, but is working to find meaning and make sense of his destiny.
BLOOD AND MEMORIES
Greg Smallwood does a good job bringing Dream Thief to life. Since this is a superhuman who kills for justice, the artwork is brutal, bloody, and gruesome. There are a lot of flashback and memory panels in this issue. Greg Smallwood uses gray tinted panels to distinguish the flashbacks and memories from current events, which is a little ambiguous but still recognizable. Unlike a conventional superhero, John Lincoln does not have a defined costume design, except for his mask. I like how his clothes interchange, since most ordinary people do not wear the same thing every day.
BOTTOM LINE: NOT YOUR AVERAGE HERO ORIGIN
Jai Natz and Greg Smallwood do a remarkable job telling a modern day, unconventional superhero origin. Unlike the first issue where John Lincoln was confused and lost, Dream Thief #2 establishes a direction for the new hero, finding the person who robbed his girlfriend. With a great concept and a multi-layered protagonist, Dream Thief has the makings for a great series.