Characters Appearing: Doggerel, Dreamstalker, Nightmare, Paranoia, Roxanne (Taran Tula)
Issue(s): Nightmare #1, Nightmare #2, Nightmare #3, Nightmare #4
I don't know what made Marvel decide to put out a four issue miniseries about a fairly obscure villain, but maybe the idea of imitating Vertigo really was part of it. It's also possible that this evolved out of the call for villain-themed annuals this year, with the story then getting converted to a miniseries for whatever reason.
The premise of the story is that Nightmare decides to fall in love with a human woman; a horror actress named Roxanne. Her current role is as a vampire named Taran Tula.
Roxanne works for a director named Lucre Shreckenadder. He dabbles in the occult.
Nightmare plants a hypnotic suggestion in Roxanne's head while she's dreaming, ensuring that she'll fall in love with him. He then leaves his dimension, disguising himself as a human named Edvard Harberdash.
Nightmare goes to Roxanne, taking advantage of the suggestion he planted and causing her to fall in love with him.
Meanwhile, almost immediately after Nightmare leaves his realm, it's taken over by a group of minor dream entities - Paranoia, Phobia, and especially Exile. They overwhelm a minor toady named Doggerel that Nightmare left in charge.
Exile turns out to be the twin brother of Lucre. Exile died in the womb, but he is still seeking his "other".
Lucre, meanwhile, is experimenting with a special chair to install in movie theaters which will instill people with terrors.
The chair in fact connects to the Nightmare realm, and the prototype allows the dream entities to enter the physical realm in the bodies of people who sit in it.
And that's basically everything. Things go on for the four issues with the usual fever-dream Nocentism. Roxanne realizes pretty early on that her "romance" with Edvard Harberdash is wrong and that he's a creepy stalker.
But despite moments of real demonstrations of independence from both Nightmare and Lucre...
...in the end she's unable to break away and she's still with Nightmare, having been forced and manipulated into feeling like she has to play along with being his "girlfriend".
Nightmare at times seems more interested in partnering with Lucre and eventually taking over his idea than Roxanne, too. And then he has to deal with the invading entities. He gets back to his own realm and stops everything. But when he hears Exile's story, he turns Lucre over to him (and then exiles him from the Nightmare dimension). Nightmare then returns to Earth and takes over Lucre's Club Fear, and another entity named Neurotica takes over his dimension, kind of out of nowhere.
There's also a talk of a nightmare epidemic on Earth while the other entities are in control of Nightmare's realm, but unlike, say, the sequence early in Sandman where people are affected while Sandman is held captive, this doesn't really go anywhere.
If you're not holding your head muttering, "What?!? Huh??!", Ann Nocenti didn't do her job. The series has some interesting moments and is somewhat more coherent than a lot of Nocenti's stuff. And Joe Bennett provides some fun visuals. But overall it's still a misfire.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Not only is this a blatant cash-in on Sandman, but I think Ann Nocenti was the only former Vertigo writer who would do anything for Marvel at this point. Her series was Kid Eternity, notorious for being Vertigo's first cancellation(the fact that she was following Grant Morrison probably wasn't a help).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 12, 2018 7:59 PM
"maybe the idea of imitating Vertigo really was part of it."
It seems like, for whatever reason, Marvel was reluctant to publish any true "mature readers" titles throughout the 90's while DC had no problem with them. Not that it would've made mediocre titles like Ghost Rider and Venom better if they could have real graphic violence, but at least the writers would have more leeway to develop truly inspired ideas. Whenever that happened.
Posted by: iLegion | February 12, 2018 11:22 PM
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