Sonata #1 is part of a new series from Image Comics that is written by David Hine and Brian Haberlin, with art by Brian Haberlin, colors by Geirrod Van Dyke, and letters by Francis Takenaga.
Taking place on the planet Perdita, the reader is introduced to Sonata, a member of a race of colonists known as the Ran. When the resources from their own planet began to dwindle, the Ran sought a new home. This led them to the resource-rich, although savage, Perdita. Every few years the Ran’s home planet orbits near enough that they are able to send more of their people over.
The story opens with Sonata observing a dropship from her home planet entering Perdita’s atmosphere. Despite being “grounded” by her father, she sets out to help the newly arrived colonists weather a storm. Flying out on the back of her thermasaur, Kee, Sonata rescues the new arrivals and returns home. Upon landing she sees her father discussing something with a member of the native Lumani. It seems the other group of colonists, the Taya, have diverted the river from Ran and Lumani lands.
Sonata, her father, and a small group of Lumani travel to speak with the Taya. The talks are more hostile than the Ran had hoped. Now, as tensions are high, the two groups seem destined to come into conflict. But there are other secrets about planet Perdita to be learned that could have much larger implications.
David Hine and Brian Haberlin have done an excellent job of crafting an homage to retro sci-fi. The alien setting and the advanced, yet primitive societies help make the story feel comparable to a classic like John Carter. However, adherence to this style and design does cause the writing to feel a little old-fashioned. As someone who is familiar with classic sci-fi/fantasy, I appreciated it. But I could see it feeling a little outdated to readers who aren’t. I am hoping that they continue to handle the colonist and native aspect of the story well. The tropes of benevolent colonists helping the primitive have not aged well. Thankfully this story is handling it tastefully so far.
In addition to writing, Brian Haberlin is pulling double duty as the artist and doing a phenomenal job at that. Every panel drips with retro sci-fi ambiance. I caught myself on several occasions looking at panels and imagining them as standalone covers to stories of their own. The people are expressive, the beasts are gruesome and wonderful, and the vistas are gorgeous. The colors, done by Geirrod Van Dyke, help to make everything pop. I’d have liked to see more exaggerated vibrant colors included, but they were lovely regardless. Francis Takenaga’s letters are clean and tight, providing emphasis where necessary and never detracting from the art.
I’m excited to see where Sonata goes from here. It hit a lot of the beats that I’m particularly fond of. Sonata herself is plucky and clever. The planet has a life of its own and the sleeping giants are terrifying. If you’re a fan of sci-fi, old or new, then Sonata #1 should hit all the right notes.
Sonata #1 will be available in comic stores everywhere on May 12th, 2019
4.5/5 Retro Spaceships