Written by Guest Contributor: Jefferey Pinkos ICYMI: Writer Chris Robinson and artist Paul Maybury’s Image series Sovereign contains three seemingly discrete (at least for now) stories, all of which are old world fantasy. A trio of mystics. A band of horsemen. A scholar setting sail on a voyage. In Image’s press release their band of marketers cited Game Of Thrones — the go-to referent for fantasy shit nowadays — when other notable allusions — Moby Dick, Conan, or the half the chapters of Cloud Atlas — might make more sense despite cashing in on less cache.
The #1 behaves like a #1 should — it does some introductions, it does some world building, yadda yadda — with one notable exception: it’s missing some story. A #1 has a set of unwritten, sometimes erased and rewritten obligations it must abide by, and one of those obligations is a hook, a reason for readers to invest time into pursuing the story and following the characters. Sovereign’s conceptual ambitions get in the way of that. The 3-for-1 conceit, however good a deal it may seem, acts against the book both holistically and discretely. By that I mean, it forces the narrative to abbreviate each story, it interrupts flow and forces the reader to examine the format instead of the narrative. It leaves a nagging, distasteful thought in the heads of its readers: Is Robinson envisioning Sovereign as a sort of a comics triptych? Do the component pieces say anything about each other? Is there a convergence later between the stories? And so on, and so on. It’s mighty distracting, if I do say so.
My score for the #1: 3 / 5. I gave Sovereign the matter of a doubt. Perhaps, simply, it was due to the limitations of the format — that maybe Robinson intended all along for Sovereign to unfold like Game Of Thrones, for readers to engorge themselves on it, for its component stories to become clear. That in retrospect, the its humble beginnings have a home within the grandeur of its scope. A sort of a posteriori storytelling; go back and appreciate what it once was, knowing the details you do now.
The #2 is no different. I hesitated in writing here knowing full well that my feelings are unchanged. I may as well go all Gus Van Sant Psycho here and copy-and-paste the review from its #1. The art by Maybury is good. It may be the grandest title in all of comics, but I still don’t see the evidence. I hesitate to continue if by its second issue I still fail to understand the point.
Writer: Chris Roberson Artist: Paul Maybury Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 4/23/14