What happens when a Jewish immigrant from the Lower East Side is granted superpowers after an experiment goes awry? Daniel Kalban’s ongoing comic series American Dreams seeks to answer that question.
Currently three issues into its first story arc, American Dreams is the brainchild of writer Daniel Kalban, and sets out to tell a superhero’s origin story with a twist. Instead of creating a superhero that comes from the rich elite, Kalban creates a hero, Jake Gold, who’s a Jewish immigrant living in the Lower East Side of New York City in the year 1900, struggling to get by as many immigrants were at at that time.
It’s hardly the typical setting for a superhero, but the way it’s put together, it couldn’t be more compelling. And it’s such an interesting premise: what happens when a young man with superpowers is dropped back down into the mix of turn of the 20th century New York, with its class divides and power struggles? How does that change history? Can it change history? It’s hard to say with only three issues completed and published, but I think Kalban is suggesting that the answer to this question is yes, and that makes for a very exciting story moving forward.
The story itself is full of historical figures, with famous people like Thomas Edison, J.P. Morgan, and even Harry Houdini putting in appearances. It makes for a fascinating mix of characters, all the more amazing because so many of these people and places were real. So not only are you getting a great story, you’re also getting something of a history lesson at the same time.
What’s more, American Dreams, right out of the gate, is teasing a tie in to a much larger mythology, one that could prove literally Earth-shattering if it promises what I think it does. It’s bold and quite ambitious. And of course all of this is in addition to the fact that the story is beautifully drawn and colored. You get a real feel for the grit and posh of New York City in 1900. Of course the story is beautiful in and of itself, but the art helps to heighten it even more. This is a story that is worth checking out, you’ll be glad you did.
The first three issues of American Dreams are available online (both in physical and digital forms) and can be purchased here from Short Fuse Media Group.