No Refuge in Sleepless #2
Sleepless #2 begins where the first issue left off. Lady “Poppy” Pyppenia awakes with her sleepless knight at her bedside. After her brush with death, Poppy is anxious for justice. She plans to have her mother consult the stars for answers, but when Amena doesn’t return from Mribesh, Poppy must seek refuge elsewhere. Unfortunately, the new king of Harbeny isn’t so understanding.
While Lady Poppy roams the kingdom in search of answers, she and Cyrenic speak with others who hail from her mother’s homeland, Mribesh. Whereas Harbeny seems to respect and revere time, the Mribeshi consult and revere the stars. But as Harbeny’s new Star Reader, Nnende, says, “…time is not so different from our stars.” Sadly, this is no consolation to Poppy, who was expecting her mother to return and serve King Surno.
In Sleepless #2, Poppy’s journey is a rollercoaster. Her hopes and plans are foiled by unexpected changes. Even her mother’s letter provides little guidance. “You must trust yourself above all others,” Amena writes. “You must keep your eyes open.” Yeah, okay, great. Real helpful, mom.
Though writer Sarah Vaughn continues to be secretive in regard to the Sleepless Knights and their origins, we do gain more insight into Poppy’s character. We knew from the first issue that she’s respectful and perceptive—both honorable qualities. But we see in the first few pages of this second issue that she has a vengeful streak. She (rightfully) seeks revenge on whoever wants her dead, going so far as to say, “I want them turned to dust. I want them erased from time.” Whoa there, girl. The best part is Cyrenic’s little smile in that panel as he confirms, “They will be.”
I most appreciate the diversity of culture in this issue. Okay, well, we only see two, but still—that’s better than one. Mribesh and Harbeny have their own little greetings and they have different perspectives on the world. It’s also nice to see that Harbeny respects Mribesh’s ways and even employs a Star Reader. Their international relations are on point.
Unfortunately, the characters’ voices aren’t as diverse. Like all comics, there’s a fair amount of dialogue in this issue. Actually, there’s a ton of dialogue. There are very few panels without word bubbles in Sleepless #2, which is great! Or, it would be if it didn’t feel like all these characters were different versions of the same person. The language and tone Vaughn uses are very samey. I’d like to see different dialects, not just different greetings.
Leila del Duca continues to employ her excellent use of line throughout the second issue of Sleepless. Again, I adore her smooth-and-sketchy style. Del Duca applies a lot of movement and expression in every panel, even if some of the expressions are a little odd. She gives depth and interest to an otherwise monotonous conversation. Without her expert artwork, the characters really would have one voice. Thankfully, del Duca substitutes facial expression and body movement for Vaughn’s occasionally colorless writing.
Colorist Alissa Sallah continues with a muted, limited color palette. Though I would appreciate more dynamic jumps in some panels, I’m not disappointed with Sallah’s work. This issue, like the first, feels like I’m reading in a dream state. The warm colors are relaxing and inviting, but they make me want to take a nap. Maybe this is the effect she’s aiming for, but it’s probably not the best idea when you’re trying to keep your reader focused.
Overall, I’m not disappointed with Sleepless #2. It wasn’t as surprising as the first issue, but I suspect Vaughn is preparing us for something good. There are too many original ideas to go to waste. I mean, I have to know the deal behind the Sleepless Knights. Sure, I had to take a break from the dialogue while reading this issue, but I’ll return next month for more. At the very least, del Duca’s lovely linework is enough to keep me in the game.
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