In the second and final volume of Thomas Cadène and Benjamin Adam’s Soon, events take a surprising turn. From the broad, expansive world-spanning explorations of the first book, this second volume turns quite insular. Yuri has disappeared and Simone, his mother, is on the cusp of shooting herself into space, never to return. Between the two of them is Andrea, Simone’s personal assistant, who is tasked with the job of tracking Yuri down.
In the meantime there’s much introspection and misery, as both parties work through their feelings about Simone’s impending journey. In the background we flip back in time, to a period when Simone was dragging Yuri through museums and exhibitions, trying to show him why she’s doing what she’s doing. This gives us a chance to delve further into the phenomenal speculative future history that Cadène and Adam have built.
Perhaps ironically, the overwhelming impression I get after two volumes of this is that there’s just too much background. The Simone and Yuri story is touching but almost drowning in all this backstory. On the other hand, the speculative history is so well fleshed-out and believable that relegating it to annotation seems a shame. The upshot is that both parts are ultimately disappointing, failing to allow each other the chance to truly shine.
This takes little away from the story or the art. The illustration is as deep and complex as in the first volume, guiding us through the extraordinary timeline it’s illustrating in the documentary sections, and capturing the moods of Simone, Yuri and Andrea. The writing is truly compelling, bringing a very complex backdrop to life and carrying the emotionally-charged finalé well.
If anything, however, this just compounds the problem. How can something with such good parts make a less satisfying whole? Soon is a marginal case, very nearly brilliant, but with too big a gap between its elements to bind them together.