Greg Smallwood’s art continues to maintain a level of excellence that brings the story and these characters to life, and along with Jai Nitz’s script, the two wonderfully capture the relationship between John and his sister Jen. This issue has a strong emotional resonance to it, as these relatively estranged and damaged siblings begin to slowly open up to each other and let themselves care again. Though the circumstances may have been forced on him, John has been developing from the unmotivated deadbeat he was at the beginning of the series into a capable man who is determined to do whatever it takes to make things right, and that means even in his own life, and not because he’s possessed by a mask. John shines here, and it is a blast to see him utilize the variety of skills he has gleaned from his past possessors, but his drive and determination are all him, and part of the new-and-improved John Lincoln . . . who still may have a few skeletons in his closest.
John makes numerous revelations, but there are also new mysteries that arise, and yet he never gives up, and we don’t want him to. We want to see this through to the end. There is a stunning action scene at the outset of this issue that is laid out so well and progresses so fluidly, with just the right amounts of dialogue and suspense, that it comes alive before your eyes, as if you were watching a scene in a movie. The scene is visceral, with a solid emotional gravity to it, and I found the end of the scene pulling at my heartstrings in its desperation and helplessness, and we can hear those emotions in John’s voice. It is a powerful splash page with a simple tableau that brings John’s adventures crashing down into the harsh world of reality, and sets him out on a mission of his own.
This story is particularly interesting, because while it deals with elements from John’s past, it is actually the first time John really deals with the events that kicked off the series and with the state of his life before his adventures began, and he is not looking to go back to his old life. One of the greatest things about Dream Thief is that underneath all of the excitement, danger, and mystical intrigue is the story of a man who is lost and aimless, and how he finally begins to take responsibility for his life, and to move. This is a common theme we can all relate to, and it makes for a captivating main character. I hope in the future we are able to journey along with John Lincoln as he continues to grow into a motivated, emotionally well-rounded man and as he continues to unravel the mysteries of the mask. It won’t be easy, but just like those around him, we believe in John, and, most importantly, John finally believes in himself.