Editor’s Note: I was provided a digital review copy of the first issue of Polybius Dreams by the publisher.
Reminiscent of Stranger Things, Polybius Dreams centers around a group of kids that would have been known as nerds or geeks back in my day. By back in my day I mean the mid 80’s when the comic itself is set. It is described as a coming of age story based on the urban legend of a killer arcade game. The kids find a new game that has become the most popular cabinet in the local arcade, but playing it can have some strange effects.
Issue 1 sets up the world of Polybius Dreams very well. If you lived through the 80’s much of it will be familiar, especially if you were a nerd like I was. Bullied in school, close friends bound by common interests, and love for things that would eventually become popular cultural icons. Many of us lived through it and if the team behind this comic didn’t themselves, they did well in their research.
Usually my biggest complaint with indie comics is the art. Comic books are a visual medium after all, and like video games and movies you can have the best story in the world but if the visuals aren’t good it will fall flat. This book doesn’t fall flat on the art. The art and colors are well done, clean, and easy to follow. The style is unique from everything else I’ve seen and it’s got an almost whimsical feel to it. There’s a lot of detail in the backgrounds, and even in the characters themselves. That tends to be the biggest failing I see in many indies is the detail in the art. Often they look like coloring book sketches with little shading or detail. Keith Grachow’s art isn’t at all like that. There’s a great deal of detail, shading, and movement in his art and it makes the book a pleasure to read.
Of course comic books are also a literary art form so they need a good story. Ben Grisanti delivers a fantastic hook grounded in a nostalgic time for a lot of readers. The first issue just starts to lay the groundwork for the story, but it already seems like an interesting one. The young group of kids is much like what many of us were. The game, Polybius Dreams, is a new arcade machine installed in the local hang out. It becomes instantly popular but has some unusual properties. This book, and its story, has the potential to deliver a creepy and interesting tale right out of our nightmares.
The first issue was a good read and issue 2 is coming soon through their Kickstarter page. Give it a look and check out some of the preview pages already available.