In the past, a nameless warrior is in search of a missing child, while in the modern day a homeless man tries to simply get by, are they connected? Your Major Spoilers review of Parasomnia #1 from Dark Horse Comics, awaits!
PARASOMNIA #1 (OF 4)
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Colorist: Andrea Mutti
Editor: Daniel Chabon
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: June 30th, 2021
Previously in Parasomnia: A broken-down man braves a nightmarish dreamscape in order to find him-and battle the ruthless cult that seeks to rule the land of dreams as the barrier between realities starts to collapse.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES, TWO TIMES, & TWO WORLDS
Parasomnia #1 begins in an alleyway as a trio of men harass and beat on a homeless man. Things then jump to what appears to be a colonial era fantasy world. Here a traveler is confronted by a group of brigands whom he dispatches quickly and brutally. He questions one of them about a nearby city and reveals he’s in search of a missing boy. Back in the modern world, the homeless man wanders through the city, seeing missing posters for a young boy, while a woman elsewhere cries in her car. Back in the fantasy world the man makes it into the town he was searching for. Inside a tavern he begins asking for information but is warned that he’s walked into a trap. He tries to fight them off but is overcome. In the real world at an RV park, a woman walks through a gathering of people until she comes to one particular RV which she enters to find a boy asleep in a bed.
AN EVOCATIVE OPENER
One of the first things that’s noticeable about Parasomnia #1 is how much it keeps to its chest. There isn’t much revealed here, in fact, the two main characters of the issue aren’t even given names. Group this with a cliffhanger at the end and a dual narrative that isn’t explained and you have a comic book that is ripe for confusion. This one manages to avoid that and by having a basic plotline that has mysteries built on top of it rather than the other way around. Also, while it never explicitly says it, I believe we’re supposed to think that the homeless man and the nameless warrior are tied together, which gives this a nice Don Quixote feel. As for Cullen Bunn’s writing itself, I thought the stuff that takes place in the fantasy world was handled better than the modern day stuff. The dialog felt appropriate for the setting and had a nice traditional Dungeons & Dragons flare to it. While on the other hand the little bit of dialog in the modern world, especially the opening pages, was cheesy and came off as trying too hard to sound belligerent and tough.
GRITTY AND DIRTY WATERCOLORS
In addition to a well-crafted mystery, Parasomnia #1 features a unique art direction that may be divisive among readers. Featuring watercolor art from Andrea Mutti, this comic book has a mostly muted art style with splashes of bold color, especially red. At this point this style isn’t as original as it used to be, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t done well here. In fact, a majority of the art here is done well. The impressionistic approach to action sequence is a nice touch. The one aspect that isn’t as successful is the use of water colors. Being that a majority of the colors are tinged dark to light grey, with a bit of yellow and red thrown in, a lot of this comic looks a little as if it was brushed with ashy water.
BOTTOM LINE: WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION, EVEN WITHOUT PAYOFF
Parasomnia #1 is more focused on trying to draw in readers with an interesting premise rather than any sort of compelling character work, and for the most part it’s successful. I’m curious how these various pieces of story tie together and if they manage to wrap it all up satisfyingly after only four issues. And, while the art isn’t perfect it has a unique look and is appealing on its own. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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Parasomnia #1 is an evocative and interesting opening to the miniseries. It doesn’t beat the reader over the head with its cleverness, and has a distinctive look. Some odd dialog bits and color usage, bring it down though.