Part near-death experience, part spiritual awakening, Dreams opens with Kabuki lying mortally wounded on her mother’s grave. Wandering in and out of consciousness, Kabuki travels mentally from her childhood to the present and briefly leaves her body for a rendez-vous with her mother’s spirit. Dreams takes place in the space of only a few hours, but Kabuki is outside of time, travelling into the past and into possible futures. Mack’s language is sparse in this volume, as words become collage elements rhyming, spinning, and sometimes vanishing entirely into images. This is the first color volume of the Kabuki series, and also the first pages that Mack created with paints and collage rather than pen and ink. That he is a virtuoso in the medium is immediately obvious. Each page appears three-dimensional, combining elements of traditional Japanese artwork with medical charts, pencil and watercolor sketches, monoprints, and photography. The introspective and surrealistic plot of Dreams is also something new for Mack, but this feels like a natural extension of the storytelling in Circle of Blood. Kabuki’s battles in this volume are not with physical enemies, but with her own past, her memories, and her sense of self. Dreams is both a coda to the bloody action of the previous volume, and an important introduction for the next installment of the story of the Noh. As an added bonus, Dreams features an amusing “I knew him when”-style introduction by Brian Michael Bendis, creator of Fortune and Glory and Powers.

Kabuki, vol. 2: Dreams
ISBN: 9781582402772
By David Mack
Image Comics 2001

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