Before I start off this review, I’ve decided to include a little backstory about the comic just to frame the picture. Sky Doll is an Italian comic series written and drawn by Alessando Barbucci and Barbara Canepa, both former Disney artists which is immediately noticeable when you see the art style. Sky Doll tells the story of a future where religious control is absolute and Sky Dolls are androids engineered to serve the sexual whims of their owners. Noa, our main character is a sky doll who has the ability to dream, a highly unique ability when it comes to sky dolls. Sky Doll: Sudra marks the fourth volume in the series, so if the concept of this comic interests you, I recommend going to check out the prequels to set yourself up for this the latest instalment. Well… I think that’s enough of a backstory so hold on to your hats, here comes the review!
In the first few pages we find ourselves introduced to the planet of Sudra where all religions throughout the universe are practised, creating a planet of tolerance and freedom; a utopia of sorts. The beautiful artwork and detailed writing makes it easy to imagine Sudra’s world and its melting pot society made up of different religions and creeds. A planet where no hatred exists and tolerance reigns supreme. As we soak in the atmosphere built up by the first few pages, we see Noa and her friends going about their life on the planet. Noa makes good use of her powers to earn food on the streets by performing miracles – such as bringing dead things back to life. Gathering huge crowds, Noa is loved by the community to the point of worship and earns the food through offerings made to her. The downside of getting all this food is that they have to lie to their friends. Noa sees these lies as necessary- after all people need to eat and despite promising not to use her powers, it’s the main thing that bring in the food.
I genuinely felt for Noa, she does what she has to because she cares, even if it puts her in danger. It’s something that everyone would do to feed their family and really helps flesh out the character. It quickly becomes apparent that Noa is constantly watched by a mysterious cloaked figure who she has been spotted a lot in crowds around town, foreshadowing an event later in the issue. Arriving at their mechanic shop, it’s here we get a better introduction to her friends who are a quirky bunch. Cleopatra, a circus artist; Jahu, who sort of doesn’t seem to do anything but lay around, have some fun with the previously mentioned Cleopatra and well, that’s about it. Finally there’s Roy who works in the mechanic workshop and details life on the planet Sudra as a hobby. Roy is a guy who has genuine feelings for Noa, telling her not to use her powers so that she doesn’t get noticed and end up in danger again. Leaving poor Noa is filled with self-guilt from the lies and position they are in, lamenting that it’s all her fault that they ended up living on Sudra in the first place. Yet as Noa revels in sadness, the mystery of her uniqueness begins to unravel – and the stalking stranger might be someone Noa knows well.
At this point if you haven’t read the prequel volumes it gets pretty confusing, I had no idea who these people were; all I knew was they are probably bad news to Noa and I felt genuine worry for the character. She just wants to be left in peace. Despite my level of knowledge of the series, it didn’t hinder my experience; the events were more mysterious and interesting because of this and I enjoyed every page. The writing made the characters feel alive – they weren’t only involved in the main plot, they had their own activities going on, their own lives. The planet of Sudra itself his also an interesting concept that could deliver a lot of potential in the future issues. The art was beautiful to look at with every panel incredibly detailed, the characters movements and actions were fluid from panel to panel giving the comic a nice flow to it and making it easy to imagine the comic as stills taken straight from an animated movie. I’d never heard of the series Sky Doll before this issue, though enjoyed it enough to want to pick up the previous issues. Overall, it’s well-written and incredibly detailed, and highly recommended too older readers who love the sci-fi dystopia/utopia genre; you’ll find it’s a hard comic to put down once you open it up.