A new world has been born this week on the new comics racks. The new world in question is that of Khend, the mysterious sword & sorcery setting of the new Image series Sovereign by writer Chris Roberson & artist Paul Maybury.
As the first chapter, Leaving Silence, begins we’re introduced to the Luminari, a clan of outcasts who preserve the “old ways” of Khendish culture, performing rituals for the recently deceased, and roaming the lowlands to do their various “dirty deeds” for aristocrats. Though out of favor with the general public of Khendish society, and at odds with the dominant horse-lords, the Luminari are the only line of defense against the terrible forces of the Unreal, a demonic evil that seems to be creeping ever so slowly back into the Khendish land. The Luminari have been relegated to operating out of their holy city of Silence, nestled high in the Roof Mountains. Their temples were once scattered across the many towns, and villages of Khend, but no longer.
In the second chapter of the story, Blade and Bow, we’re introduced to some of the aforementioned horse lords, as they are out hunting a great beast for sport. The story shifts deftly from a mystical, otherworldly “Sandman” like narrative to the scene of the proud horse lords that feels like it’s straight out of the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Then in the third, and final chapter, From the Depths, we’re taken out to sea to be introduced to a ship carrying a queen’s envoy named Lady Joslyn Evrendon, a learned man of some kind named Pol Ravenstone, and the rest being your typical “Master and Commander” style crew.
The conflict of the “Real” clashing with the “Unreal” becomes crystal clear as the ship is attacked by a great, undead sea monster! Which brings me to the beautiful artwork in this book. Paul Maybury is just hitting it out of the park on this one. It’s reminiscent of a couple other recent artists stepping up their game for new projects like Nick Dragotta on East of West, or Greg Capullo on Batman. I’m new to his work, but his line work reminds me a bit of Paul Pope, and his compositions a little bit of Mike Mignola. I might even consider picking up this book just for the artwork alone, but the story by Chris Roberson is very well written, so luckily that decision is made all the more easier! I love the way he broke up the story into different chapters with their own title page. I can tell from reading this comic that a ton of planning, and “world building” was done in advance of this first issue being published. I’m really looking forward to exploring more of Khend, and learning more about it’s denizens in future issues of Sovereign.