Sonata Volume 2: The Citadel is this week’s release from Image Comics’ Shadowline imprint. Anomaly Productions‘ writer David Hine, co-writer and artist Brian Haberline, colorist Geirrod Van Dyke, and letterer Francis Takenaga close out this Cosmic Steampunk series.
Sonata Volume 2: The Citadel comes off the last six issues where two human races attempt to colonize a planet. The titular Sonata of the Ran tries to live in peace with the native Lumani, only to encounter Pau of the militant Tayan. But the “gods” all races worship seem to have other plans.
Sonata Volume 2: The Citadel Story
Sonata Volume 2: The Citadel continues to combine elements of steampunk (progress and colonization) with cosmic horror. In this case, how people’s ideas of civilization cause them to be seen as a “Master Race.” The Tayans who value power above all else are at war with each other for ownership of the planet. Even then, Pau’s father isn’t content with this, wishing to enslave the other races with the “god’s” weaponry. The “Old Gods” themselves still have power over everyone in the long run despite their weakening states from some “falling illness.” Specifics would be spoilers. If anything, this series main theme is the futility of domination or peace as there is always something stronger in its way. Something that would evoke feelings of rage into hopelessness. David Hine and Brian Haberline seem to like the themes of H.P. Lovecraft as their other series, Marked suggests.
Although the way they tell this story can be jarring with how incoherent some of the issues are. Especially if returning readers find the death of an important character where the context comes issues later. The shifting points-of-view between characters can also get a little jarring. If this can be a point-of-view each chapter rather than focusing mostly on Sonata’s, it would be easier to follow. Even then, the ending feels lackluster, given how abrupt it is. That’s not even mentioning what looks like a sequel hook at the end. But the chances of a sequel for some form of closure seem just as futile.
Haberline’s artwork presents a lot of intricate detail where Perdita’s setting steals the readers’ attention. This intricate alien world feels both mesmerizing and desolate with floating rocks above piles of bones. Many of the characters resemble 3D models against a rough and fading background. This allows the reader to focus on what the characters do and where to follow instead of getting distracted, which can happen very easily, given how intricate the designs are, like straw huts and trees.
Geirrod Van Dyke, as the colorist, does his parts to give more life to these pictures. The characters, in contrast to the mostly muted background colors, provide just enough differences to follow. Even then, the backgrounds are practically the same colors. Without defining the character models, some like the flying creatures would blend in with a matching yellow sky. Otherwise, most objects would blend in too easily unless something convenient like an energy blast occurs.
Francis Takenaga’s lettering is, for the most part, very uniform in Sonata Volume 2: The Citadel. Everything remains in a panel or in the same space as panels to view the changes in perspectives. This helps in the cinematic viewing of events. What really stands out are color-coded thought balloons that people can communicate with. At one point, a new character Kah-Lee’s purple thought captions, serve as foreshadowing to a plot-twisting development. Yet, in one instance, there is an odd occurrence that Pau’s usually green thoughts are red, which are normally Sonata’s. Which really only adds to the problem of shifting POVs.
Take Or Leave Sonata Volume 2: The Citadel
If you like the idea of where Steampunk’s age of technological revolution in societal collisions with Cosmic Horror, this might be where to start. Sonata Volume 2: The Citadel is far from perfect, but a glimpse can inspire people to look beyond the surface of things. Especially since these ideas can lead people to the brand of Anomaly Productions. Although for this trade, that can be difficult for how jarring the coloring and shifting points-of-view are.