Sunday, February 13, 2011

Retro-Review: The Strange World of Your Dreams #1, Part 1
Time for a new book for the Retro-Reviews, and this time I've chosen “The Strange World of Your Dreams” #1, a Prize Publication. This was the first of four issues, and this one was cover-dated August, 1952. Joe Simon and Jack Kirby edited this book, and they apparently both worked on the cover art!

The first story in this issue is “I Talked With My Dead Wife,” by Simon & Kirby. The tale opens with a very moody splash page!

The story begins in the office of Richard Temple, where his secretary Gay Francis answers the telephone. On the other end of the line is Walter Stewart, who's been trying to reach Temple the entire morning. When Temple speaks to Stewart, the only details we get are that there's some problem involving Stewart's little girl. Temple heads over to Stewart's home, a two-story walk-up on the east side of town. Inside, Stewart is meeting with a doctor.

The doctor leaves, promising to return that night. Temple introduces himself to Stewart, who tells Temple that he's been having dreams about his wife, and if he could only understand what his wife is trying to tell him in his dreams, he could help his daughter, Kathy. Stewart promises to try to interpret these dreams. Stewart begins his tale.

In his dream, the house is bare, and only Stewart and his wife (whose face is in shadow) are present. In the dream, there's no indication that Stewart's wife is dead; not only that, it seems that in the dream it is Stewart who is sick – but then, Kathy is only mentioned, not seen. Stewart's wife tells him to see Jay Viller for help in the dream. The only problem is, Stewart has never heard of Jay Viller at all. Stewart tells Temple about his other dreams, in which his wife is more frantic, and keeps mentioning Jay Viller. Finally, Stewart decides to look in the phone book to see if there's a Jay Viller listed, while Temple leaves to work on his analysis of the dream.

Just as Temple is finishing up his analysis of the dream, Stewart calls him at the office, with the remarkable news that Kathy is getting well! Temple rushes to the house, and is introduced to the doctor who saved Kathy's life... Dr. Jason Viller! Temple is astounded at the revelation, even more so when he learns that Viller is one of the few men who had the knowledge needed to cure Kathy. Viller, however, is rather disturbed when he learns that his name came up in Stewart's dream. Why?

Yes, it seems that Viller had also been visited by Stewart's wife in his own dreams, begging for his help! Viller leaves, and Temple and Stewart discuss the seeming coincidence, although Temple seems to be rather evasive about what he believes had happened. Still, he can't help but appreciate the results!

Okay, so what did I think about this first story in the comic? Honestly, compared to other Simon/Kirby tales I've read in the past, I found this story a bit lackluster. The pacing seemed “off” to me... as if they were plotting it as they drew it, and hit the top of the last page and needed to fill the rest of the space in. Perhaps there was a rush to complete this first issue? We may never know. There really isn't much of a proper introduction to Temple in the first place... apparently we're meant to read between the lines that he makes a living out of interpreting dreams (not that we see any money changing hands, mind you).

Perhaps if there had been more than one session with Temple, with the first one involving Stewart's wife not being understandable, and the second time (perhaps with some prodding from Temple) getting the name of Jay Viller out, with Temple suggesting he look up the name, it would've worked better for me.

Following this is the one-page text feature, “Haunted in My Dreams,” which is uncredited. The story features Temple again, this time his client is a soldier... and Temple's occupation is mentioned as “dream detective.” It's actually a better story than the comic story preceding it, with Temple playing a more proactive role in it.

Next: “You Sent Us This Dream,” and “Don't Wake the Sleeper or You'll Vanish Forever”!

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