Writer: Tyler Burton Smith / Artist: Vanessa Cardinali / Image
The best way that I can describe Slumber after reading the first issue is that you take equal parts of Invader Zim and John Constantine, splash in some Psychonauts for flavor and then just sprinkle in some Nightmare on Elm Street to taste. The end result in a surrealistic, black comedy, supernatural detective thriller where our protagonist Stetson dives into the dreams of people to kill people’s nightmares. It’s all sorts of fantastic and bizarre.
In true procedural fashion, Slumber #1 features the classic cold open where two detectives are examining the latest crime scene in a killing spree (the seventh one of its kind), when they find the business card to our favorite nightmare slayer. The story pivots, and we get to spend some time with Stetson as she enters the dreamscape. It’s every bit as bizarre as a dreamscape would be.
I adore this book, because it manages to oscillate between the darkly grim real world and a heavily stylized dream at the drop of a coin. It all works incredibly well. The premise lends itself to drastic shifts in tone, but the over-the-top dramatics and horror elements help convey that both worlds have their own threats and their own aesthetic. The real world seemingly has a sepia filter constantly applied and the pivot into dream is a vibrant and horrifying return to color. And yet both Smith and Cardinali make the abrupt transition feel like the most natural thing in the world.
Smith absolutely nails the mix of supernatural procedural and the comedy of moon logic. The dialog is campy and ridiculous, while still retaining a sense of urgency and violence that works incredibly for this type of story. Cardinali’s artwork pops off the page and gets to showcase a whole suite of skills from physical comedy to gun-toting action sequences.
Slumber #1 covers an immense amount of ground incredibly efficiently making fantastic use of the detective “voiceover” and montages. We get a fantastic sense of Stetson’s personality and disposition while also staging a lot of interesting myth arc elements that tantalize and tease.
This is a very weird intersection of genres, but the end result is a very enjoyable jaunt that I’m going to be following very intently. Smith and Cardinali play off each other incredibly well, and I can’t wait to see what future shenanigans are on the horizon.
9.5 “Sleepwalker Killings” out of 10