The world of Black Cloud #3 is one of dreams, blending mystery, sci-fi, and fantasy. It blurs the worlds of reality and fiction. Zelda seems to be lost in a world of dreams, travelling through worlds and seemingly trying to escape from something, and to learn something. Her present is shaped by the mistakes of her past, and the only way to make things right again is to sift through her history and to find out a missing detail that could change the course of her current predicament.
The artwork of Greg Hinkle is very hard and angular, with character designs as far from realism as the environments they inhabit. Complemented by the color scheme provided by Matt Wilson, readers might not be seeing so much of a dream world but something a bit more defined with detailed environments. There are some panels where characters bend and distort in such a way to indicate a truer depiction of a dream world. Overall, the characters are drawn in a somewhat deformed style and the world they journey in seems more real to the reader.
The color scheme by Matt Wilson carries us through time to simpler days where monsters threatened the people and heroes were needed to fell them. Then we are brought to a modern age full of vibrant colors to compliment the ideas of cynicism and deeper thought about society’s structure and our place within it, to the current dystopian world, dark and devoid of any of the previous vibrant colors, with only hints of the colors of previous old worlds present.
When analysing the story by Jason Latour and Ivan Brandon, there are some deeper thoughts about societal structure and the necessity for heroes and villains woven in each of the fragments of Zelda’s memory. Elements of her history push her further into what she is in her current time, as one who distrusts any authority or power, and ultimately she refuses to take on any authority for herself. There is depth to the storytelling of how a society fashions a child into the woman she becomes, where the old adage “it takes a village to raise a child.”
Within each part of Zelda’s history, there are these nuances of ideas that society needs a villain, an enemy, or an antagonist who opposes their view. This is so they have something to strive against while also reaching for their highest ideals in their respective thought processes. Zelda once was a hero who fought against the monsters. After fully realizing the truth that the hero she had become was just a farce, she rebels against those that wanted her to progress to such a status. Now she, in some ways, has become a monster to the society she once sought to protect.
In another memory fragment, she is introduced to the idea that their society is seemingly better because they are striving to be better, and their ideas have advanced them. Yet they only see themselves as puppets being orchestrated by those above them. The people around her complain about their lot while pontificating the roles of those rulers, and consider returning to the way things were in the old world. This leads to her rebelling against her former mentor, causing her inner turmoil and a path down to further rebellion.
Exploring the world of dreams in Black Cloud is a tough endeavor, both visually and plotwise. Although Latour, Brandon, and Wilson managed to capture a hint of that in the fluidity of the plot as well as in some of the visuals, there are some elements of story that are too far out and visuals that get too disconnected from reality for the casual reader to follow. After reading some other reviews of previous issues of Black Cloud, this seems to be a common theme amongst readers. It was nice to know that I wasn’t alone in feeling a bit lost in reading through this title, with only getting a bit of what was going on after a few more read throughs.
There are elements of the story and visuals of Black Cloud #3 that even after reading through it more than once, I still find confusing. When trying to separate the dream world from the real world, I am unsure of how much of it is exaggerated because of the dream-state. Plus when Zelda “wakes up” from her journey through her past in the dream world, It seems that the world she “wakes up” to is more fantastic than the one she just left. It becomes even more confusing when trying to analyze Zelda’s dialogue, as the reader might not be able to grasp how things have progressed to such a state, even after having read some of the previous issues in the series. Perhaps Latour and Brandon wanted to insert elements of mystery in these aspects of her reality, but at some point there are too many layers of plot where it becomes a labor for readers to follow. Simplifying the mystery of the real world or simplifying some of the mystery in her dream-world past might make following Zelda’s story less of a task.
- Art style captures elements of a dream world fantasy
- Colors match the feelings and attitudes of the area the character experiences
- Confusing plot when exploring the world of dreams vs. reality
- Art style too defined for a dream world environment
- Character design and environment don’t match in detail