Sonata #5 // Review
It begins in a dream and ends in an arrival. A young, displaced hero and her cohorts must travel through a dangerous valley inhabited by massive monsters in the fifth issue of Sonata. The adventure continues as written by David Hine and co-writer/artist Brian Haberlin. Beautifully depth-enhancing color comes to the page courtesy of Geirrod Van Dyke. The adventure takes a significant turn as the first leg of the story reaches its end, prompting the arrival of a whole new element, which should shed some light on Sonata’s past. The strange and sudden end to a journey from a great distance away feels a bit jarring, but Hine and Haberlin clearly have a pretty good idea of where they are going as things move along.
Sonata is dreaming. She has wings on her back; there’s an indistinct landscape suggestive of snow in a vast expanse of blue. A figure arrives. It is her mother who turns into a monster. Sonata doesn’t exactly awaken. She’s been poisoned. One of her newfound companions has taught himself a bit of medical knowledge. Others are hesitant to let him do his work, but there is little doubt that she’ll die if she doesn’t get medical attention. If she can survive THAT, she’ll be moving along with the rest of them through a valley of giant Sleepers who could prove to be very, very dangerous if awakened.
Hine’s prose feels a bit more substantial this issue than it has thus far. The dialogue feels crisp and light. The drama feels very solidly grounded with an evident sense of conflict in a very clearly-rendered journey. The overall pacing of the adventure feels a bit sudden. The sudden lurch back to civilization from the other side of the planet doesn’t feel earned. Hine seems to have needed Sonata and her friends to get back home immediately when they could have had a profound and fascinating look into the nature of the planet while traveling through the valley of the Sleepers. It’s a bit of a let-down that finds the sudden arrival of a new character at the end of the issue feel like a strangely unpleasant narrative jolt.
Haberlin has the drama down very solidly in this issue. Character’s facial expressions and postures feel very natural in a sweeping movement across the page that increases tension as the story progresses. The physical action really opens-up as Sonata and her friends encounter the sleepers. Once again, Van Dyke’s color adds a gorgeous sense of depth to the page. It’s challenging to get a powerful sense of perspective between giants and non-giants on a comic book page. Framing can be a mess. Van Dyke’s pale glow of the giant Sleepers in the background really adds to a sense of depth that makes the danger all the more real on the page.
Sudden narrative lurching aside, Hine and Haberlin are still telling a fun fantasy story that seems to be hitting its stride. The new dynamic that arrives on the page at issue’s end could guide things in exciting directions in issues to come.