Image Comics’ Slumber #2 Comic Review

Nightmares creep in when the mind is tired and anxious, nesting deep and creating vivid, disturbing images the body has no control over. What if these night terrors are a demonic manifestation that possesses the host into performing unspeakable horror? Slumber tells the story of nightmare hunter Stetson, who is on the trail of one such particularly dangerous entity named Valkira, a paranormal serial killer who murders people in their sleep. Detective Finch from the NYPD has been investigating these gruesome deaths, but things take a turn when Valkira takes possession of his body. Written by Tyler Burton Smith with artwork from Vanessa Cardinali and Simon Robins and lettering by Steve Wands, Slumber #2 gets off to a gory start with Finch trying to clear his name as Stetson tracks the nightmare with a vengeful devotion.

Published by Image Comics, Slumber #2 opens with a confused Finch waking up from a grotesque dream of hacking a person to death. While he chalks it off as a nightmare, he is shocked to his core when he finds a dead man inside his refrigerator. Meanwhile, Stetson communes with the demon Rabisu and shows him a rough portrait of the Valkira, the entity responsible for her daughter's death. Stetson wants to put a world of hurt on the nightmare, but before that, she needs to find her. Fate has a way of intervening as detective Finch himself comes to the nightmare hunter for help.

In the first issue of Slumber, writer Tyler Burton Smith, known for his work on the 2019 reboot of Child's Play, had carefully laid the groundwork for the story, introducing each character and their predicament through an intriguing premise. Slumber #2 takes the story even further down the rabbit hole and into a colorful wonderland where dreams become nightmares. Two separate narratives run alongside each other before they meet, mirroring the mental stress of the protagonists. Paranoia grips Finch as he is thoroughly afraid of what his nightmares will wreak this time, while Stetson's schizophrenia is getting worse and worse with each passing minute. Smith creates an eerily suspenseful atmosphere that remains until the last page. The slow progression of events leaves the reader wanting more.

Vanessa Cardinali and Simon Robins fill the book with surrealistic artwork and psychedelic color tones, giving this macabre issue a subversive visual spread that dilutes much of the gore inherent in the story. While Cardinali's stylized illustrations and cartoonish aesthetic can be a distraction, the bold inking and dark shadow lines are potent enough to exude a haunting look. Moreover, it is the exaggerated looks, the bulging eyeballs, and caricaturish faces that bring out the outlandish nature of the tale. Colorist Simon Robins complements Cardinali's wonky art with equally eye-catching decor, painting the panels in alternate tones of muted and bright colors to set the atmosphere accordingly.

Slumber #2 combines elements of crime procedural with supernatural horror to create a suspenseful story that depicts the two protagonists' spiral into madness as the evil entity orchestrates a trap. Dreams can be deceptively beautiful, a colorful land with undulating hills and a purple hue on the horizon. Yet it does not take much to turn into a nightmarish landscape that can cause sleepless nights. Finch is at the edge of his limits when he reaches out to Stetson, but not even Stetson is prepared for what is coming ahead, deepening the thrill in the story. Slumber #2 ends with Valkira ominously welcoming Stetson and Finch to her domain, as a trap is sprung that no one can easily escape, not even the readers glued to their seats.

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