We have another brand new series from Image on our hands: Sovereign! It’s written by Chris Roberson (of iZombie and Edison Rex fame) and drawn by Paul Maybury, who I have never heard of before. What do these two have in store for us? Is it good?
Sovereign #1 (Image Comics)
The comic is divided into three different stories: ‘Leaving Silence,’ which is about a group of monks who discover a large pile of corpses and decide to give them a proper burial. The second is ‘Blade and Bow,’ which is about a prince or noble who is living by his own rules. The final story is ‘From the Depths,’ about a wormy guy who is on a very long sea voyage to a new location to do some research. That’s it, besides the three twists each tale has.
This is an interesting issue to discuss. We get three different stories in this and honestly, they all each problematic in their own ways. The comic as a whole is pretty weak due to these problems, but let’s break each story down here and discuss them.
‘Leaving Silence’ honestly feels like a story we walked into halfway. The context of where the traveling monks are going, what is the root all this death and what is behind it, who the characters even are, and the concepts of their religion are not at all explored. Minor hints are tossed around for answers, but we don’t really get a good grip on it all. Since the comic offers up no form of information or characterization for the individuals, we don’t have anything to really attach ourselves to or get invested in. Things ultimately happen, but the comic offers no reason to care about what is happening other than, “these are the main characters and you are supposed to like them now.” On the other hand, depending on how future issues go, this part of the comic actually has the most potential once it actually starts exploring any of these characters, backgrounds, or their own religion.
How can you tell if there aren’t any young women or girls among these people? They all look like zombies.
‘Blade and Bow’ is probably the best story of the comic. The protagonist, Janramir, is characterized sort of the same way as Thor was in the first movie: a guy who comes from a noble/ruling family that genuinely cares about protecting the people around him, but is rather immature and having some fun as well. Though in comparison, Janramir has no interest in ruling. Overall, he’s a decently characterized individual and what happens in the end could lead to a very interesting character story. The problem is this story is basically just setup and feels rather disjointed as it tells its story, randomly jumping around from scene to scene. While it makes sense to do this, since it also has the feeling of a montage, in order to give a glimpse of the character before his world changes, it comes away feeling awkward to read at points.
‘From the Depths’ is okay. Basically a story about group of voyagers who are on their way to a new place who run into some trouble along the way, but it feels kind of boring. Sure, the trip is “attacked” by a sea monster, but there’s no energy or movement to it, with the story feeling cramped within a minimum amount of pages. We have some characters here and they have a bit of characterization, but they don’t really draw you into them. It does offer up the most interesting of twists of the three stories and maybe with extra pages, things could have been a bit more exciting. However, as-is it’s nothing special.
I think there is something wrong with those vultures. It looks like they have tube socks for necks and heads.
The artwork is not my cup of tea at all. It has familiar feel/style to it and reminded me of Chris Burnham in some areas with the muscles, faces, and some of the bumpiness in the characters (I could never get into the way the characters look in his work). Each story has an interesting variation in style and/or color for their stories that help separate them from one another (the coloring in the monk story looks like someone went overboard with blue tones and shading), so that is rather interesting and a nice touch for the book. However, the characters look off or weird for various different reasons, like odd looking facial expressions. Layouts can vary between stories like I mentioned and often leads to the pacing feeling off, where it feels decompressed in the beginning or very rushed towards the end. Some of the backgrounds are a bit lazy and are empty voids, but that’s it. It may work for some people, but the style of artwork here really is not for me and did not fully engage me in the material.
Is It Good?
Sovereign #1 is okay, but could be much better. It offers three different stories each with their own strengths, but also with big weaknesses. The lack of background knowledge, poor story structure, and the general feeling of boredom plague each of these stories separately and hurt them quite a bit. There is potential here with each tale and the next issue could easily correct these problems, but as it is, Sovereign‘s first issue feels more like a preview of things to come rather than actual first issue.