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‘Dead Kings Have No Dreams’ (review)

Written and Illustrated by Valentín Ramón
Published by The Blackest Pill

 

The term bizarre should be considered a compliment when viewed through this lens.

The word bizarre is defined as a very strange or unusual thing or occurrence, especially to cause interest and amusement. When I think of bizarre forms of entertainment that I have enjoyed, I can quickly call upon Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Brazil (1985), Time Bandits (1981), and Donne Darko (2001). I am sure that Jordan Peel’s upcoming Nope (2022) will also be a suitable bizarre type.

However, bizarre can also fall flat and be strange, pointless, and chaotic.

When I think of bizarre in these terms, I think of the works of Tom Six, most notably his Human Centipede series.

Unfortunately for me, Menedez’s Dead Kings Have No Dreams falls into the latter category.

In the future imagined by Menedez, society is deeply rooted in an oppressive reality where robots and a new generation of androids do most of the work.

Humans, in turn, have devolved into drug/internet-addicted drones that seek to find meaning in their lives inside of Virtual Reality and its infinite possible worlds, thus leaving the A.I. to manage every other aspect of the day-to-day. Meanwhile, the rest of their fellow humans – the ones against the A.I. – support a new political party called Only Human.

Only Human is a new right-wing movement looking to ban A.I. to regain for humankind the place they are losing on planet earth.

In this setting, J goes through a painful breakup with the love of his life, Wendy. She disappears from his life after telling him she has found someone else and has fallen in love with them. The breakup comes down like a ton of bricks on J, who had never before been able to hold a relationship for long. For him, Wendy had been different. J believed she was the love of his life.

One would think that reading this premise that is shockingly close to our present reality, that Dead Kings Have No Dreams, would be a solid piece of literature.

Sadly it is not. The premise is both sound and robust; the artwork is impressive and reminds me of the works of Frank Quitely; however, everything else falls flat. This graphic novel might be for some, but it was not for me! If Menedez intended to create a highly unreliable narrative and reality viewed through the eyes of an insane drug-addicted madman, then Menedez succeeded. However, because the narrative was akin to a waking nightmare, I was never sure what was real or in J’s imagination. It was hard for me to understand what was going on in the narrative.

Worse yet, I did not understand where the narrative was even going. What could have been a classic akin to The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) becomes a messy trouble tale with a dark and pointless ending.

Final Score: 1.5 out of 5

 

 

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