Welcome to Ink Spots, a quirky little corner of DC.com devoted entirely to all of our favorite Young Adult comics and fiction. In this new Book Breakdown, Kelly Knox gets acquainted with Dreamer—and really wants to give her a big hug.

Supergirl viewers met Nia Nal in 2021 and instantly fell in love with CatCo’s newest reporter. Kara Danvers sees a lot of herself in the earnest and hard-working Nia. In time, Nia reveals to Kara that she’s not entirely human, but part-alien, and gifted with precognitive dreams. She becomes a close friend and formidable ally to Supergirl, taking the name Dreamer and fighting at the Girl of Steel’s side.

Nia Nal was portrayed by actress Nicole Maines, who has taken Dreamer’s origin story from the screen to the pages of her very own graphic novel! Bad Dream: A Dreamer Story, written by Maines and illustrated by Rye Hickman, is a retelling of Nia Nal’s origin story for a teen audience. But her journey of self-discovery isn’t an easy one…

Want to know more? Read on for our dreamy Book Breakdown of Maines’ YA debut!

Cover Crackdown:

Striking and ethereal with a tinge of Dreamer’s signature blue color, Hickman’s cover evokes floating through a vision of other worlds. Nia might be surrounded by darkness and the unknown, but her face is peaceful. The cover of Bad Dreams is calm, enigmatic and dreamlike. While Nia’s road inside the book is a rough one, this serene cover illustration hints that there is a hopeful future waiting for her at the end of it.

Tell Me a Story:

Nia Nal is an outsider in her hometown. Not because she’s part-alien—her small town of Parthas is a refuge for extraterrestrials—but because she’s transgender. Whispers and unabashed stares follow her wherever she goes, but Nia has the strong support of her family, which includes her human dad, her Naltorian mom and her older sister, Maeve.

Maeve has been training her whole life to inherit their mother’s precognitive dreaming powers. But when they manifest in Nia instead, the teen girl can’t face her older sister and decides to run away out of guilt. She ends up in Metropolis, where she finds unexpected friends who might understand her better than anyone she’s ever met before.

Let’s Talk Art:

Hickman’s characters beautifully show their emotions through their eyes, from Maeve’s frustration, to Nia’s loneliness, to their mother’s love. The resemblance to the original incarnation of Dreamer from Supergirl is apparent, but this Nia also feels very much like her own person.

The most remarkable pages are filled with depictions of Nia’s dreams, which, much like our own, are filled with disjointed images and representations of her fears. The elements of her dreams seem to flow down the page, giving them the unsettling feeling of being trapped in darkness or deep underwater. In doing so, Hickman’s illustrations masterfully evoke the same feelings in the reader that Nia experiences in her dreams.

Dialog Discussion:

Maines treats Nia’s internal dialogue as just as vital as the interactions between characters. When Nia’s story begins, she only has herself to talk to through navigating life as a trans girl in Parthas and later, Metropolis. She’s unmoored and unprepared for her new powers, which she doesn’t feel that she deserves to have, her self-talk suggests. Nia isn’t even sure what she’s looking for in the city—until Taylor, Kat and Yvette walk into her life.

Do these three girls look familiar to you? If you’re a DC YA fan, you may know them from the pages of Galaxy: The Prettiest Star! (What, you haven’t read it yet? Go get that book and read it now. Right now.)

Meeting girls like herself who have a place where they belong is life-changing for Nia. Her conversations with them are a big step in her journey to realizing it’s okay to be who she is. In a reflection of what it’s like being a teen, Nia says the wrong thing once or twice when getting to know Taylor, Kat and Yvette. But the disagreements that follow lead to forging stronger friendships. These interactions make the girls seem even more real and grounded, which can’t help but make them more identifiable.

By the Numbers:

Total number of pages: 205
Bad dreams: 7
Good friends: 3
Very good boys: 1

Who’s the very good boy? It’s Argus, guard-corgi and all-around best doggo, whom we first met in Galaxy: The Prettiest Star by Jadzia Axelrod and Jess Taylor.

Voted Most Likely:

Nia Nal would win Most Likely to Leave Their Hometown in a landslide. You could even say she gets a head start in the pages of Bad Dream! Her destiny waits far from her closeminded hometown of Parthas. She might not be able to imagine it now, but one day Nia will find her place alongside the biggest heroes in Metropolis—and beyond.

One Perfect Page:

On page 102, Nia meets Taylor Barzelay outside of a dingy Metropolis convenience store. Despite their cheerless surroundings, Nia’s dazzled when she first sees Taylor, Yvette and Kat. She thinks, “She’s an alien, and she’s trans. And they’re together. Is that allowed?”

When she manages to tell the girls that she’s a trans alien, the three suddenly understand why she was drawn to them. Taylor introduces herself as a fellow trans alien and the two make an instant connection. Her kind smile is the first that Nia has seen in a long time. Their initial meeting and their friendship, which I didn’t expect but made perfect sense the moment I saw it, are some of the highlights of the graphic novel.

By finding new friends who accept her for who she is, Nia gathers the courage to go back home and tell her family about her powers. Her tale in this graphic novel might not have a happy ending, but it does have an encouraging one. And Nia’s story is just getting started. Thanks to Bad Dream: A Dreamer Story and Dreamer’s expanded role in comics, there are many more stories to come about Nia Nal and the power of dreams.

Bad Dream: A Dreamer Story by Nicole Maines and Rye Hickman is now available in bookstores, comic shops, libraries and as a digital graphic novel.

Kelly Knox swoons over Superman and obsesses over every story told about the first meeting of the World’s Finest. When she’s not reading comics, she’s waiting impatiently for the next books by Tracy Deonn and Kalynn Bayron. Find her on Twitter at @kelly_knox.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Kelly Knox and do not necessarily reflect those of DC or Warner Bros. Discovery, nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.