Sovereign is a new ongoing comic from Image Comics, written by Chris Roberson (iZombie) and art by Paul Maybury (POPGUN).
Sovereign is an action packed fantasy comic, but it contains three radically different environments. It’s broken down into three ‘chapters,’ which I found quite jarring, and I still cannot figure out how they are related to each other even after finishing it.
We begin in a medieval fantasy setting with adventurers travelling across the land, apparently seeking to fulfil their just duties. It’s not long before it’s made obvious that something is amiss. Before you know it, our newfound heroes are battling demons who’ve possessed nearby corpses. Although there’s a lot of fighting and some gruesome details, such as decapitating bodies, Maybury handles it without filling the comic with blood, guts and excessive gore. This is something that takes talent as some violent stories get bogged down with unnecessarily extreme violence. That’s perfectly acceptable when the story calls for it, but here it would clash with the tone.
The second chapter is rather like a game of cowboys and Indians, apart from they’re on the same side, working together against some kind of demonic horse-beast. Yes, even just from my review I think it’s pretty clear that this comic is rather confusing at times. The last chapter also takes a very different turn and takes place upon a ship, with a crew of aristocratic sailors who accidentally stumble across a sea monster.
The artwork is very unique and stylised, and I mean that in a good way. It meshes well with the story and makes for a nice backdrop. Thanks to the creative team, each chapter is so well drawn and coloured that they seem like they’re by different artists. Maybury has an extraordinary talent for perspective. There’s one particular scene where an arrow is being fired towards the reader and it’s drawn so well it feels like it’s flying right out of the page.
Unfortunately the three stories all suffer from being overly complicated. You can see the potential behind each tale but it’s difficult to really engage with them or feel any sort of immersion. They’re all also quite short and cut off before you can get a proper grasp of who the characters are and what’s really going on. The first two stories also jump rapidly to the next tale without much of a conclusion at all, while the third story just stops right in the middle. It feels like it was written for the trade collection, to be read in bulk, as a lone issue it really suffers.
In conclusion, Sovereign #1 is a confusing comic. There doesn’t seem to be anything tying the three stories together at all, I felt as if I was reading three separate one shots instead of one unified issue. I assume the stories will connect eventually but without any link so far the final package feels disconnected from itself. I had very high hopes for the comic as I am a big fan of Roberson’s other comics, such as iZombie, but this just didn’t gel with me. It does have some interesting concepts relating to history and different cultures, which I could appreciate, but overall it’s a mixed start to the series. The art is very enjoyable, but it’s not enough to shake the feeling that this is just quite a convoluted issue.