Review - Sovereign #1

"We must venture down into the lowlands and carry out our sacred duties, even if it means our death."

Works like Lord of the Rings do something very powerful: they transport the reader to a whole new world. Crafting those worlds is a task that only certain individuals take on, but if the world is built with care then things can get really awesome really quick. Image Comics is banking on such a world being built in The Sovereign #1, written by Chris Roberson and illustrated by Paul Maybury.

In a world where gods, demons, and magic have slipped into myth, masked undertakers known as Luminari face 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. There's a good mix of magic, swords, sailing and all manner of other sorcery that make the world in the book one of fantasy.

Establishing a fantasy universe is a tall order, but Roberson does a great job getting one started. He offers up some of the more familiar fantasy tropes, giving the reader a somewhat secret society fighting the undead, a king on a horse and a mythical creature rising from the depths. All of it is presented in three separate chapters, giving the reader time to fully take in everything that's unfolding. Each chapter offers a different look at a different slice of that universe and how they all fit together remains to be seen. The Luminari, Vorghiz Rhan and Pol Ravenstone are all different parts of a larger whole and they fit certain fantasy stereotypes that help nudge the reader along at a very comfortable pace.

Maybury's art is a god fit for the script. He offers the reader a wide variety of characters, all of whom are very reminiscent of characters in Game of Thrones. There are some instances where the art looks a little muddled and difficult to make out at points. There are some instances where keeping things relatively vague works, but when the reader comes across the sea creature for instance, it's almost impossible to discern what it is exactly. The Luminari at the beginning look to be witch doctor inspired, but you never really get a good look at Vorghiz Rhan, who's supposed to be a fierce warrior. It's not bad illustrations per se; it's just that there are a lot of panels that look a little incomplete in a way.

Sovereign #1 is a very interesting first issue that is nothing if not ambitious. The three stories are offered as different pieces of a whole and are clearly aiming to come together at some point. The characters themselves are pretty interesting in the brief time the reader gets to spend with them and all come from different angles in the high fantasy story. The illustrations by Maybury maintain something a fantasy tone, even if some of the illustrations could use a little refining. Maybury is just getting started building a new world and if the reader indulges him for a moment, the reward could be something grand.

Sovereign #1 is in stores now with interiors below.