Issue four picks up right where the cliffhanger from three left off, and the action and story are strong all the way through this issue, which finds Lincoln in Memphis, Tennessee, embroiled in a high-stakes poker tournament at Elvis’ Graceland estate. Luckily for Lincoln, he’s channeling the skills of his most recent possessor, a con man and card shark. This gives him the ultimate poker face, which makes the scenes during the tournament especially entertaining for him and for us, because we’re in on the secret. There are fun and unexpected twists and turns, and the story is tight and moves at a brisk pace. It is a testament to Nitz’s writing and Smallwood’s art that even when the characters are sitting around playing poker, the scenes are dynamic and active, and the whole tournament is plotted with a clever energy.
Once again, the art is phenomenal, and I especially enjoyed the inclusion of some bold sound effects and the way they interacted in the panels. I was reminded how unique it was that the panels in this book are broken up by white space, which continues to give the story an ethereal quality that makes you feel like you can’t quite nail it down, just how Lincoln can’t seem to control the mask and what happens whenever he falls asleep. Nitz crafts a story that is fresh and draws us in, especially through the small idiosyncrasies of the ghost possessing Lincoln in this issue. Also, Nitz continues his talent for crafting intelligent stories and a new set of characters that are developed over the course of each issue without the stories feeling plot-heavy. Since Lincoln is being thrust into these already established environments, the majority of the characters are already fully developed, and it is Lincoln and the mask that set the action into play. Wonderfully, Lincoln still is not always sure just what the mask is trying to accomplish, and that air of mystery continually makes Dream Thief a compelling read, and it is a story that I will gladly follow through to the end.