Image Comics’ Sleepless Has Character Building in Abundance

Guest Writer: Ernie Laurence

Story-Sarah Vaughn
Art / Cover– Leila Del Duca, Alissa Sallah

This article was possible due to the gift of a review copy, QWERTY, and rolling natural 20s.

“Lady ‘Poppy’ Pyppenia is guarded by the Sleepless Knight Cyrenic, but danger is around every corner…”

Worldbuilding

For this particular comic, I would argue that there is not much world building going on in the first issue. There are a couple of major “world” events happening, such as the coronation of a new king in this kingdom, and these so-called sleepless knights (cute play on words there). We are aware of the presence of magic in the world, but there is nothing overt or direct about it.

The focus, though, seems on characters and relationships and not as much on the world itself, yet. The whole story comes off as a kind of media-rez introduction. For someone like me, who loves worldbuilding, its somewhat off putting. The only saving grace is the start mid action with the hope of working its way outward to the building of the world.

Sleepless #1 cover art A

Sleepless #1 cover art A © Image Comics

Art

The art is mostly pastel with a bit of the morose in it, especially with Cyrenic, the knight. Nothing in the style drew me in with “oh, that’s cool” or served as a hook, visually. What I felt was a bit of a throwback to the old Prince Valiant comics in the newspaper when I was a kid. It’s not that the styles or colorings are the same, just what came to mind as I was reading through. The clothing and architecture are reminiscent of Morocco and Italy during the early Renaissance and its clear the artists did their homework.

Character Building

Here is where the comic really had its strength. The relationship between Poppy and Cyrenic is immediately established as one of loyalty and unrequited affection. Cyrenic focuses strongly on his duty to protect Poppy while she looks to him for protection and comfort, though not outright romance in this issue. There is enough there to predict that this relationship might be bound for tragedy. They are looking to build the romantic tension a little too early using the common danger to push the two characters together. Whatever love there will be between the two, I don’t believe it will last unless the series is rather short. This heartbreak will be the true power of the story, else this comic will not gain much traction.

Given the name of the comic and the idea that Cyrenic is magically spelled not to sleep, I imagine they will explore more deeply what happens to a person when they are deprived of sleep. They need to nail that.

Story

Poppy is being escorted to the coronation of a new king by Cyrenic. She is the old king’s illegitimate daughter and as such, something of a threat to the new king. After the coronation, Poppy and Cyrenic are attacked. He defends her and brings her to safety where they have a moment. There is as much depth to the story as there is world building because they are focusing on introducing the characters and the sleepless concept first.

Recommendation

Rating: PG-13 (violence, mature themes)

The parental rating on this is definitely teen or higher, but I would withhold a recommendation to read until I saw more of the comic series. The first issue just wasn’t enough of a hook for me. However, for those who like Renaissance period fantasy, court intrigue, a Romeo and Juliet style of romance, this will be right up your alley.

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