Written by Guest Contributor: Jefferey Pinkos Image’s summary for Chris Roberson and Paul Maybury’s Sovereign says it’s “[a]n epic fantasy in the tradition of Game of Thrones,” which, let’s face it, is Image’s marketing team going for the easy get. Anything nowadays even toeing the line of high fantasy gets a branded as the second coming of Tolkien or George R.R. Martin’s, you know, whatever, whether or not it deserves it. Despite a shared parentage and a shifting perspective (though, to be fair, Faulkner did it first; and no marketing teams are chomping at the bit to say, “this shit’s like The Sound and The Fury!!”), Roberson and Maybury’s series share little in common with Game of Thrones.
Roberson’s ambition is showing here, starting his brand new series with three unrelated vignettes — Leaving Silence, with mystics and undertakers; Blade and Bow, a Conan-like monster-slaying tribe of horsemen; and From The Depths, a Moby Dick/swords on the high seas story. Roberson handles these stories as well as can be expected, considering their abbreviated length. The three narrative threads is an interesting concept, especially when their relevance to one another is eventually revealed. For a #1, however, his ambition gets in way of storytelling, giving readers a little of a little. Over time, I am sure he’ll do the type of worldbuilding he wants to do here, and that there’ll be a payoff for the split narration. Framed within a serialized floppy book, it doesn’t fit like it should. Readers need to commit to get Roberson’s story.
More to report: Maybury’s art is great; it fits the story Roberson wants to impart, both ancient and mystical. Compared to his work on the psychedelic Catalyst Comix, Maybury is restrained. In the Leaving Silence story, the undertakers come to a field of corpses and see glowing orbs, “daemons of the unreal,” one of the undertakers named Brother Swift comes at the now roaming undead with two glowing blades while his partners tend to the still dead, circling them with salt and decapitating them. The violence is bloodless. He dispatches them easily, cutting them into ribbons. It’s an interesting scene. Full of the unreal. Compare it to the earth and fire of Blade and Bow, or the glittering blue water in From The Depths. He handles his elements so well, and his landscapes seem so organic to the story. Know that it’ll get bigger and more interesting.
If this sounds like something you’re into, know that you’ll need to invest some time into.
Writers: Chris Roberson Artist: Paul Maybury Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 3/19/14