If you want a comic that’s intent on finding the middle ground between Conan the Barbarian and Fables, Sovereign might’ve been created just for you. But if issue #1 is any indication, you might have to wait a few issues before the story actually begins.
Here’s the official word from Image:
In a world where gods, demons, and magic have slipped into myth, SOVEREIGN tells the story of masked undertakers facing the undead with swords while civil wars threaten the delicate balance between colliding cultures. But out of the ashes of history rises a new threat and the promise that magic has not yet faded into mere memory.
When it comes to Sovereign writer Chris Roberson hasn’t tried to hide the fact he wants to evoke an old-school high fantasy feel. That’s right: think dragons and shirtless men with swords and wizardy, and you might just get a sense of what Sovereign is reaching for. And while Roberson’s efforts to make issue #1 feel like an epic start to something…well…epic…are commendable, he seems to forget that he’s telling this new story in a format that only allows 25 pages per issue. This is to say, issue #1, which is split into three mini-intro stories, feels more like a series of movie previews than it does a coherent start to comic arc. Don’t get me wrong, each segment feels interesting enough, but also fundamentally incomplete at best, and preciously oblique at worst. Characters are referenced, not introduced; and there’s no sense of urgency. If this were a giant 1000 page book, it’d be forgivable, but this a pay-by-installment narrative and Roberson might have been well served by remembering if he wants folks to pay four dollars per issue they might need chapters, not the suggestion of a preface.
All this said, artist Paul Maybury provides some beautiful images here. Although each story toggles from one world to the next Maybury keeps up perfectly. He has a special knack for faces and it was the art that often made me linger on the pages, not the story.
Sovereign #1 provides a tremendous amount of universe building, but so far not enough story to feel truly engaging.