Adaptions so often offer us an opportunity to experience something we might have missed. Sleeping Beauties is just that, as Rio Youers and Alison Sampson are bringing Stephen and Owen King’s novel to life in the comic book format. The first issue was an exceptional work that visually stunned while also introduced a story of a pandemic that felt incredibly real, given the state of the world today. The second issue gives us that and more.
This ten-part series heats up in the second issue. I’d wager some might find the horror within hits too close to home as folks take to the streets to protest the Aurora pandemic and the lack of information the government can give. Women are falling asleep and watching with cocoons covering their heads. If woken up, they fly into a fit of rage and will kill whoever is nearby. It’s a fascinating read because it seems to be mirroring what we’ve all been going through, which makes it incredibly poignant and captivating. Further, it’s quite amazing how closely it mirrors our lives today since the book is years old and the comic was written and drawn before the pandemic and protests were a common day to day thing.
The journey of a mysterious woman Eve gets thorough development in this issue as she enters prison and begins to reveal what she knows and what she can do. We also get a good look at how terrible the prison is, setting up a likely conflict between Eve and the guards who rape its women. A negative of the first issue was the slower pace, but after this second issue, it’s becoming more clear what the book will be about, and it’s doing well to capture your interest with its characters.
The art is, without a doubt, some of the most outstanding work I’ve seen all year. Sampson does a stellar job capturing a hyper-realistic look to the characters in at times a fascinatingly flat look. The striking use of color by Triona Tree Farrell adds to the intense nature of the art. The use of lighting is critical too, especially in the outdoor scenes, to create a sense of mood and atmosphere. You can almost feel the heat of the day in the book. Layouts tend to zig and zag at times, further drawing your eye and creating a break in scenes.
This book is also keenly aware of gender identity. The pandemic strikes women, but there’s an interesting point made about how it’s not about genes, but about the identity of the person. I think many will gravitate towards this progressive message.
This is a strongly written adaptation that had me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. Though the subject matter may be a lot for folks currently living through a pandemic, I can’t say enough how exceptionally written and drawn this book is every panel of the way. Sleeping Beauties offers disorienting pleasures of horror and identity as a pandemic begins to wreak havoc on an unprepared community — a narrative that’s shockingly real given the pandemic today.