After an epic start, Sovereign is back with issue #2. But there’s still more set-up than actual plot so far.
An emperor lays dead, with no successor named for his vacated throne. Visitors from a distant land discover that there is more in the world than their philosophies know. And three masked outcasts come bearing word of a coming apocalypse…
Here’s the good news: If the first two issues of Sovereign are any indication of what’s to come, then writer Chris Roberson is building a Universe robust enough to hold up to a mega-run that could go on for years. That’s right, think Bone, or Fables, or maybe even Nexus — the characters Roberson is creating are complex, and the rituals and rites evident in issue #2 are creatively developed. At it’s best, Sovereign is like reading like an anthropological study. But here’s the bad news: Roberson’s execution of this tale (so far) is totally zapping the momentum. Told in a series of seemingly disconnected narratives, Sovereign #2 toggles back between three separate lands — each vignette is strong enough to whet the appetite, but none gets enough airtime to really satisfy. So far the most compelling story concerns a tribe of traveling undertakers (for lack of a better description) charged with what appears to be the holy task of dismantling bodies so that they don’t rise from the dead. This narrative stands in stark contrast to a nautical tale of a boy discovering new lands, and a kingdom in disarray after a death of the emperor. Like most readers, I totally trust these variant streams will even eventually merge but it’s a painful process to watch in single-issue increments. If this were a trade, I might have more patience but so far the pacing feels glacial.
The art, by Paul Maybury, is pretty spectacular, however. Maybury’s characters are rich and textured; his landscapes are strong enough to put you in the scene. Best yet, his panels are staged beautifully — Maybury is as creative with his POVs as he is his style.
Sovereign #2 continues to provide a tremendous amount of universe building, but so far not enough story to feel truly engaging.
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