Man Of Your Dreams.
Freddy Krueger’s A Nightmare on Elm Street was a short-lived (two issue) series published by Marvel Comics in 1989 in a black-and-white magazine-sized format. “Dreamstalker” was a two-part storyline that filled up the entirety of both issues of this title, revolving around two heroines who are forced to face off against Freddy Krueger—the first is Allison Hayes, a teenage girl with innate dream powers that make her the perfect foil for Krueger; and the second is Juliann Quinn, a young psychologist who has trained to develop her dream powers, making her the perfect mentor for Allison. With Allison in custody at Springwood Medical, and later the Westin Hills Psychiatric Institute, Juliann has to navigate hospital politics in order to get her patient the best care, and buy the time needed to prepare her for a final showdown against the man who has been haunting both of their dreams.
There are the expected surrealistic nightmare sequences, some of which are a gruesome delight. As far as the actual plot goes, though, there’s nothing too far out of the ordinary here. Much of it is a rehash of themes that were introduced in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987) and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988)—Westin Hills, the dream-suppressant drug Hypnocil, and learning to use your dreams against Freddy had all been dealt with before. However, there are few minor diversions here that actually expand on the Elm Street mythos significantly.
Nearly one-third of the first issue was dedicated to an overview of Krueger’s backstory, beginning with a more detailed depiction of his unholy conception than previously seen and ending with his career as the Springwood Slasher (pre-death). Some of the particulars might not line up exactly with everything that has come before and everything that has come since, but it wouldn’t take a lot of imagination to deftly insert this into official canon.
The second issue has a sequence in which Allison recounts her first encounter with Freddy after accidentally stumbling into his domain by taking a wrong turn at a crossroads in her dream. There are hints of Lewis Carroll here, with Allison playing Alice, though the Wonderland she falls into is a much darker place than the Cheshire Cat would tend to frequent. Here, Krueger fraternizes with all manner of other freaks and monsters during his downtime. What this place is, and who these other creatures are, is never explained but is wide open for further exploration. It may come off as something of a silly peek behind the curtain, but if the creators were going to part them, they may as well have thrown them wide open.
Perhaps they would have if the series had lasted more than two issues.
Interestingly enough, the series wasn’t cancelled because of poor sales. It was actually the top seller in Marvel’s magazine line which also included The Punisher Magazine and Savage Sword of Conan. At the time these issues were published, the horror genre was under heavy fire from concerned parents and panicked public interest groups, and although Marvel was not the recipient of any undue pressure, they still shut down the title out of fear of bad publicity as something of a preemptive strike.
The covers for both issues were illustrated by Joe Jusko, and the stories written by the legendary Steve Gerber. Gerber’s work remains consistent throughout…even if it isn’t his most imaginative plotting. The interior artwork was done by Rich Buckler, Tony DeZuniga, and Alfredo Alcala and is typically pretty solid, though Buckler’s work in the first half of the premiere issue surpasses DeZuniga’s work, which is great when at its best, but simply isn’t as consistent.
Overall, an entertaining read that likely would have been better as a piece of a larger whole than it is as a whole all by itself.