Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Sarah Vaughn
Artist: Leila Del Duca
Colours: Alissa Sallah
Letters: Deron Bennett
Release Date: 14th November 2018
Over the past eight issues, Sleepless has staked its claim to being one of the finest fantasy books on the shelves today. Brilliantly paced since the first page of the first issue, the series has always managed to maintain a masterful balance of romance, politics, intrigue, action and mythical elements. And now issue nine is here to not only continue this impressive streak of quality, but also to kick things into high gear with the most game-changing, suspenseful chapter yet.
There’s absolutely no way this wedding could go as expected, and this issue begins the aftermath of the event as everything spirals in ways both unpredictable and shocking. With a wedding purely for power and for the kingdom, the false love finally gives way and the truth is revealed. Everything that has happened in the past eight issues begins to piece together, and plans seemingly years in the making begin to unfold, revealing a truth that is both devastating and frightening for the kingdom and Pyppenia.
To say more would be spoiling, but the shocking nature of these reveals brings a whole new level of drama to this story. Every page is gripping and intense, whether guided by action, subterfuge or the dialogue as Pyppenia faces off against the forces that have plotted against her since the start. And it’s most notably Pyppenia who really gets to shine in this issue, with an incredible amount of agency given to her as she bares her fangs to the opposition that has plague her life, and moments of strength and cunning demonstrating the incredible amount of growth she has undergone in these first eight issues.
The fast-paced, heavier tonal shift also allows the issue to show off the standout ability of the impeccable artistic team, as the action gives way to Leila Del Duca’s mastery of facial work and utterly true-to-life body language. Alissa Sallah’s control of lighting and shadows gives weight and intensity to the dark and foreboding atmosphere of this issue, and Deron Bennett give the book its most fantastical look in every word spoken.
It’s also clear that Vaughn has complete faith in this ensemble, given how comfortable she is to deliver entirely wordless pages which allow the art alone to convey every small and powerful moment of this critically important issue.
This chapter isn’t just the latest display of one of comic’s finest fantasy stories kicking ass, it’s also easily the most gripping issue of the series yet. It features rewarding plot threads and character growth along with one hell of a stand-off which asks as many questions as it answers, as well as kicking off an unpredictable and exciting new status quo for the rest of the arc to explore.
The writer of this piece was: Connor Stephens
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