Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee;
Sounds of the rude world, heard in the day,
Lull’d by the moonlight have all pass’d away!
— Stephen Foster
Though she appears to be the weakest and (aside from physical attractiveness) least envisaged character of The Forever People, Beautiful Dreamer is likely the most potentially powerful player in their battle against Darkseid. Jack immediately sets a stark and intriguing contrast when we first see them together. She, with her beguiling, prostrate form and alluring, serene face, compared to the cut of the Master of the Holocaust’s arrogant stance and butt-ugly countenance. And the pin-up in FP #4, too, hints at her importance with its stunning artistry and caption that reads, “Beautiful Dreamer versus Darkseid! Both hold the key to victory in the strangest war ever fought in comicdom’s history!”
One marvelous aspect of Jack Kirby is his obvious liking of the female gender, a contrast itself with the overall outlook of too many comics creators of his and later generations. Perhaps it stems partly from the necessity to focus almost exclusively on the feminine point of view during Jack’s considerable — and outstanding — work in romance comics (a genre he co-created with Joe Simon), and I also suspect his respect and affection for his devoted spouse, the indomitable Rosaline Kirby, and the fact he had two daughters, are parts of that equation. (I’ll betcha dollars to doughnuts, Jacob Kurtzberg was also a mama’s boy, to boot!)
If you combine, in his Fourth World mythos, Jack’s conceptualization of brutish and bodacious Big Barda, the Female Fury of Mister Miracle, one of the most vivacious and self-assured (hence, downright sexy) characters in the history of the form, with the latent cosmic war-ending power of girlish, apparently meek, most definitely lovely Beautiful Dreamer, there’s a delightful complexity here putting women front and center in this otherwise hyper-testosteronated masculine super-conflict. If you ask me, I reckon Jack Kirby was a feminist!
When first we meet Beautiful Dreamer, we find her unique consciousness (“one of the few whose mind can fathom the Anti-Life Equation! The ultimate weapon!” The Infinity Man tells Superman) is impervious to Darkseid’s probing, and the evil ruler surrenders her to her friends. We learn that Beautiful Dreamer’s power is to create telepathic connections with others to generate illusions, whether making a hallucination that they’re a harmless bunch of earth kids for old Uncle Willie, deceiving a Justifier into believing the gang is one of his kind, or appearing as a haggardly old dwarf to cut short a fashion shoot with Breckenridge the photographer.
(There’s a breathtaking juxtaposition of beauty and beast in Jack’s full-page depiction of a remarkably rendered Desaad, tenderly brushing her comatose figure with a riding crop, appreciating Beautiful Dreamer. “Ahhhh — My vision of beauty! — and a beauty of visions, too, I might add! A mind so sensitive that it makes illusion seem like reality! What my scrambling machine must huff and puff to produce — Beautiful Dreamer can do by a mere thought!” KAH-reepy!)
Despite the fact her physical attributes — buxom and curvaceous — are considerable, Beautiful Dreamer knows that the secret of being human isn’t just in the corporal world, as she explains, “After all, the body is merely a three-dimensional identification vehicle! It’s our ‘total’ selves that beautify us!” (Still, she’s not above having her zoftig form being objectified, whether as a swimsuit model or when Serifan, via a cosmic cartridge, atomically re-shifts an old-fashioned gown the girl is wearing into a oh-so-mod go-go, short-short mini-skirt — replacing the ragged dress she wore for eight issues prior.)
Beautiful Dreamer defines the team for Donnie the invalid in #2: “Of course we’re real! truth is real! Truth lives forever — We’re the Forever People!” Which remains perhaps the best description for this most original group, said in the simplest and sweetest of terms.
I’ll admit, as a kid, I pretty much dismissed Beautiful Dreamer, thinking her more a burden to the group rather than an equal asset. But I now get a glimmering of Kirby’s intent with the character, something that is now obvious at the very start of The Forever People. That whatever the apparent triteness of her powers of deception, her abeyant abilities loom large in the saga: this woman is headed for some serious business which will take her to her place in the heart of the raging storm between New Genesis and Apokolips.