Writer: Sarah Vaughn / Artists: Leila del Duca, Alissa Sallah / Image Comics
Sleepless is developing into a wonderful fantasy/historical series with all the political intrigue and hints of romance that we love in that genre. Well, that I love in that genre anyway. At the end of Issue #2, Poppy’s attempt to leave the castle, where someone wants her dead, has been thwarted by the new king’s “protection”. “Protection” here is theoretical because he may very well be the person behind the assassination attempt in the first place. Can’t trust nobody. While Poppy is trapped in the castle as her cousin Rellen’s lady-in-waiting, Cyrenic has been forced into the tournament to fight for his order. No one’s having any fun. As Poppy says, “We are all dancing for our supper. We only get to pick the steps”.
In Issue #3, we get some much needed backstory on both Cyrenic and Poppy. The Sleepless knight met the King (Poppy’s dad) on the battlefield and saved his life. Poppy’s mom, the star reader, Amena from Mribesh, was the King’s mistress and fortune teller. But the King’s wife, Queen Leotta, made her peace with it all and has welcomed Poppy as her adopted daughter. She’s worried about Poppy, but she still gets in her carriage and rides away. Guess she isn’t *that* worried about her.
Rellen is drawn as a pale, pimply faced, pouting girl. It is a great example of how the artist has to illustrate what isn’t said in a comic, the details, the facial expressions that give the words deeper meanings. All of which is well done here.
Especially a few panels later when Cyrenic defeats Princess Rellen’s bodyguard.
The art is most striking in the numerous “silent” panels, in which there are a few sound effects, but no dialog. Del Duca and Sallah keep each blow clear. Instead of illustrating each motion, this is more like snapshots of action, panel to panel. It all has a good sense of motion and energy without getting bogged down by details.
The tourney winds down predictably, with Poppy and Rellen’s rivalry getting more intense as Cyrenic shows why he gets so much respect. Watching Cyrenic do his battles while Poppy does hers is a great juxtaposition. We’re still waiting for so much from this comic: the romance to blossom, the plot to be revealed, Poppy to come into her own. It is unfolding. The trip is going so well in Sleepless you won’t mind taking your time with it.
Read all of our Sleepless comic reviews collected in one place.