Sonata #4 // Review
A young heroine continues an uneasy alliance between a few others in a distant land as an expedition to save them runs into danger in the fourth issue of Sonata. Writer David Hine and artist Brian Haberlin’s fantasy steampunk adventure continues. In a chapter which continues to explore the opposing nature of two different human nations and the aboriginals who inhabit the world, they have come to colonize. The specific mixture of fantasy and pulp sci-fi is charming enough to keep the action going for another issue. As various sci-fi/fantasy tropes emerge from well-rendered shadows and into the center of the panel. Geirrod Van Dyke’s colors continue to enhance the otherworldly action in light and wispy shadows.
Sonata, Pau and their Lumani friend are beset by animalistic, little predators. The attack of the few things is quickly thwarted, revealing a bit more about the differences between Pau and Sonata. Pau continues to fire at the tiny attackers even as they retreat while Sonata befriends one and helps nurse it back to health. Aided by a long-lost explorer, the three allies uncover an ancient facility with some very advanced tech in it. Meanwhile, Sonata and Pau’s would-be rescuers run into danger in the treacherous Valley of Sleeping Giants.
Hine and Haberlin’s script sets everything onto the page in a pulpy, clean simplicity. Sonata’s people are peaceful, while Pau’s people are warlike. The Lumani evidently turned their back on advanced technology in favor of being more in tune with the environment. Now they’re evidently devoted to making sure that technology never returns. It’s all pretty simple stuff. The dialogue can feel a bit clunky in places, but the overall momentum of the series seems to be picking up quite well, Now that the basic plot dynamics are churning their way through some pretty impressive visuals.
Though a bit emotionally stiff in bigger shots, Haberlin’s art is remarkably atmospheric this issue. The sophisticated emotions of Sonata and Pau feel quite vivid in close-up shots. Throughout the issue, Sonata appears to be a very compassionate heroine who balances grace and adventure with warmth and compassion. Haberlin brings the lead character of Sonata to the page on a very thoughtfully-sculpted emotional level. Van Dyke’s colors have a profound effect on the emotions of the issue, granting the glow of a starry to a significant moment between Sonata and Pau that might otherwise have felt stiff and awkward in spite of Habelin’s best efforts. The stars and mountains on the other side of the planet feel positively romantic in Van Dyke’s hands.
As big and ominous as the world of Sonata seems, Hine and Haberlin make it feel like a rich and sweeping fantasy world in the fourth issue of the series. It’s not terribly deep or complicated stuff being explored here, but the power of the fantasy saves it from mediocrity. The issue’s pleasingly epic-level alien visuals with careful attention to detail make quite an impression.