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by Thegreatmagnet on May 20, 2017

Sovereigns Written by Ray Fawkes
Sovereigns Art by Johnny Desjardins
Sovereigns Colors by Mohan
Magnus Written by Kyle Higgins
Magnus Art by Jorge Fornés
Magnus Art by Chris O’Halloran
I’m a fan of Gold Key Comics characters, most notably the “Gold Key three” that Valiant Comics licensed for their shared universe in the early 90s: Solar, Magnus and Turok. The Valiant iterations were (for the most part) brilliant modern takes on the classic characters, simultaneously thought provoking and action packed. Since those days, the characters have bounced around between several different publishers without tremendous success, most recently landing at Dynamite. The Dynamite series to this point have been a mixed bag, with a few bright points (Solar, Magnus) and some low points (Turok, Doctor Spektor, Gold Key Alliance). Sovereigns seems to be part of an ambitious plan to join all of these characters into a single story, alongside a roster of solo series. I am absolutely loving the storyline of Sovereigns so far, but I am extremely confused about the solo series that have been previewed.
Sovereigns is a bold and compelling re-imagining of these characters, and impressive in its ability to weave the stories together. These characters were not created with the intention of a shared universe, and they exist in very different (and basically mutually exclusive) worlds. In the 90s, Valiant built a new shared universe around the characters, but the characters were generally separate, with the occasional crossover. Dynamite’s previous series have had essentially no interaction between any of these characters, even in Gold Key Alliance, which was billed as a team-up book. But in the new series, most of these characters exist at the same moment in time and they actually interact, with only Mighty Sampson in a future timeline. The series is aptly named, as all of these characters are exalted leaders of different kingdoms: Magnus a messiah of machines, Spektor the Lord of Witches, Turok the King of the Lost Valley, and Solar basically a god (as usual). I am all about this interpretation. I already have tremendous respect for these characters, and it’s nice to see them at the height of their power, rather than as young heroes learning the ropes. They also give the impression that these characters have a shared history and have fought together in battle in the past, so assumedly these people have ascended to power together. I’m hopeful that they’ll dig further into the characters’ backstory as the series progresses. Samson’s new iteration is also interesting- he’s living hundreds of years after the end of the world, and encountering some mysterious threat, seems to be connected to the danger Turok encounters in the Lost Valley. All indications are that the story unfolding in the “present” timeline is leading up to apocalyptic events, and Samson is trying to piece together the clues alongside the reader.
As much as I love what I’ve seen of the Sovereigns story so far, I am still extremely confused about the Magnus story at the end of the issue (as I was with the three backup stories in Sovereigns 0). The Magnus story takes place at the exact same time as the main story (April 2020), but this Magnus is completely different: a young, female robot psychiatrist. I actually really enjoy everything I’ve seen of this character, but I don’t understand what the <frak> is supposed to be going on right now! This also holds true for the Turok preview last month, which had talking, anthropomorphic dinosaurs and appeared to feature an African-American protagonist. Are these stories taking place in a different universe? Are they trying to suggest that history (and therefor reality) are being changed somehow? I would be totally fine if Dynamite states that these series are a different continuity from Sovereigns, but I would really like to know one way or the other. If they are trying to tie these storylines together, I am unfortunately pretty skeptical, partly because Dynamite doesn’t have a sterling reputation with these properties. Up to now, I don’t think they’ve been explicit about the relationship between these stories.
The art on this book is pretty strong. I think they did a great job with these character designs, especially Solar and Samson. Admittedly they made some bold decisions, as with other aspects of the re-imagining. Desjardins did a great job with the art on the main book, which is clean and detailed, but also dark and very dramatic. I especially enjoy his work on the Samson scenes. I also really enjoy the Magnus art by Fornés, which is completely different. Magnus is almost cartoony, but it’s certainly expressive. Major props are also due to the colorists on both stories. The colors look fabulous throughout the book and they capture a number of different moods: the gritty future of Samson, the insane sci-fi of Solar, the cartoony pulp of (lady) Magnus. This is a great looking book in every aspect.
I was skeptical when this book was announced because of Dynamite’s track record with the Gold Key characters. I’ve heard a lot of naysaying online, some of which seems to be pretty shallow: for instance some fanboys (shockingly!) can’t accept a female Magnus. So far, I’ve loved every panel of both issues that have been released. However, I do not understand how they are going to tie the Sovereigns series with the forthcoming solo series, and I’m worries that the end result may not make sense. For now, I will choose to be optimistic, and hope that Sovereigns continues to be a rewarding read.

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