Sovereigns: Dynamite’s Crowning Achievement
By Cliff Biggers
Turok. Solar Magnus. Spektor. In 2014, these Gold Key heroes returned to comics in solo series produced by Dynamite Entertainment. Two years later, Dynamite reintroduced them (along with Samson) in the pages of Gold Key Alliance. And in 2017, they’re back again—like you’ve never seen them before—in the new ongoing series The Sovereigns.
“The Sovereigns is the story of all the legendary Gold Key characters at the apex of their careers as heroes — and at their moment of greatest crisis,” writer Ray Fawkes said. “It all begins and ends with Turok, King of the Lost Valley. It turns out his life and his kingdom are more important to the survival of the world than everybody knew.”
“Sovereigns is everything I love about comics,” Senior Editor Matt Idelson added. “A huge, cosmic threat; heroes with incredible humanity yet differing from one another through their all-too-human quirks; and telling a story that both honors the rich history of some truly great characters while building something that first-time readers can enjoy is incredibly satisfying for me. Ray and Johnny are doing work you’re destined to slobber over.
“The Gold Key heroes have been reinvented a number of times by a number of different publishers, and while going back to their original depictions was certainly discussed, it felt like we’d just be doing what you’ve seen before. What we’re doing here with these characters definitely is something you haven’t. I guess you could say we’re pushing all our chips into the middle of the table.”
Readers will be introduced to this new series in a special 48-page Sovereigns #0, which combines Fawkes’ compelling lead story with a trio of backup tales by Kyle Higgins, who is writing Magnus; Aubrey Sitterson, who is writing Doctor Spektor; and Chuck Wendig, who is writing Turok.
What’s the take on the Gold Key heroes in this new series? “The Sovereigns takes everything that happened in the earlier series starring all these characters—and Gold Key Alliance—as events in a single continuity. All of the characters in this story lived through all the wild adventures we know, and now they face their final threat. In the main story, all of the Gold Key heroes are at the apex of their careers—and the end of their careers,” Fawkes said. “The main story is tied directly to the backup features, though the connection might not be obvious at first… In the main story: The Sovereigns is the last reunion of the Gold Key characters because most of them die. I’m serious! Look, I’m a writer—we keep all our promises!
“The Sovereigns begins in two time periods: Samson’s adventures hundreds of years in the post-apocalyptic future, and King Turok, conqueror of the Lost Valley, in the present celebrating the anniversary of his coronation. Both of them face an immense, murderous threat, and two great campaigns of war begin: one to end the world, and one to save it. What unfolds from there will involve heroes around the world and in outer space, from fifty thousand years in the past until the eve of apocalypse.”
“Magnus is a character with a rich history, and a premise that’s an absolute blast – how do you not love a guy who fights futuristic robots?” Higgins said. “Dynamite has been tremendous in giving me a massive runway to flip things on their head and turn this into a book that’s very, very different. I’m having a blast, and can’t wait for people to see what the idea of a ‘robot fighter’ looks like in 2017.”
“The Turok you get won’t necessarily be the Turok you expect,” Wendig said. “We’re taking the character in a different direction—and boy howdy, I think we’re going to drag him through hell along the way! Getting to take an old character for a new spin is always a fun challenge, and Turok in particular, allows us to go gonzo—I think this is a story world ripe for action, adventure, and spectacular weirdness. This is not what came before, but the spirit of the character and the world remains.”
“Doc Spektor is back and he’s younger, scuzzier and more self-destructive than ever before” Sitterson said. “You’re going to see Doc banish malevolent spirits, tangle with subway shoggoths, attend rooftop parties with clans of warring fairies, summon demons and, most challenging of all, try to win back his fed-up girlfriend while sharing an apartment with a monstrous roommate. It’s more heavy metal than goth, and it’s the brutal, fun, soap operatic occult comic you’ve been waiting for.”
Higgins described the involvement of four writers on this new series as “a testament to Matt [Idelson], who I’ve known and wanted to work with since his days in the Superman office. We recently got the chance to do a few issues together on my book Hadrian’s Wall, and it was a lot of fun. So, when he reached out and asked if I’d be interested in reimagining Magnus, I was definitely interested.”
“Matt and I have already developed a fascinating, innovative structure – a perfect introduction to Spektor’s world,” Sitterson added. “While they’ll most definitely stand on their own, I’m also doing everything with an eye toward how we’ll fit into the new world that gets established coming out of Sovereigns. It’s a tall order, but fortunately, one that I’m well-prepared for, as I’ve been doing something very similar with The Crown Jewel of the Hasbro Universe, G.I. Joe, over at IDW.”
“And I’m the fancy man tackling the very un-fancy Turok backup story,” Wendig said.”
“The backup stories both grow out of the events of The Sovereigns— and take place at the same time,” Fawkes explained. “ That might seem like a weird answer—all I can tell you is that it’ll make sense when you read the book!”
“This story is really going to get to the root of what makes these people heroes, and we’ll see just how far they’ll go and how much they’ll be willing to sacrifice in order to do the right thing,” Idelson added. “And ultimately, it will lead to some pretty seismic changes in the characters and the universe they inhabit.”
Dynamite has described these characters as “all-new all-different never-before-seen” versions of the classic. What’s different here? “For me, it’s a kind of a complete reimagining,” Higgins said. “taking the concept– dude who fights robots–and flipping it around quite a bit. My take is a bit more like a cross between Her and an episode of Black Mirror–it’s our world projected forward some thirty years, where we see what the development of and reliance on A.I. might look like, and what problems could stem from it.”
‘We hear ‘all-new, all-different’ a lot in comics—it’s really a cliche at this point, right?” Sitterson continued. “So instead of speaking vaguely about tone and approach, how about I just tell you what’s new and different about Spektor…First up, he’s younger. Not just younger, but young. This ain’t a rich surgeon in a ritzy Greenwich Village mansion – he’s a scuzzy, 20-something millennial living in an outer borough flop. It’s an occult comic… but not the occult you’re used to. More heavy metal than gothic, it’s going to be a reminder that ‘magical’ and ‘visceral’ aren’t mutually exclusive terms. And finally, it’s not just a big, brutal, heavy metal occult comic: It’s also a soap opera, in the best sense of the word. Sure, Spektor will be butting heads with monsters, demons and all manner of eldritch weirdness, but he’ll also have to deal with bosses coming down on him, an estranged girlfriend and a monstrous roommate.”
“Turok will not be the Turok that we know,” Wendig said. “This is a new character with a new journey ahead of him. Where that takes him, and how it’ll intersect with the rest, well — I don’t want to spoil the soup.”
Is this a sort of Gold Key Rebirth, so to speak? “I think that’s a fair way to look at it,” Idelson said, “but we’re not invalidating or dismissing all that has come before, either.
“It’s the next story we’re telling for these characters, but it’s not strictly connected to what came prior, since the aim here is to create a true jumping-on point for new readers to join their longtime compatriots. If we do our jobs right, new readers will want to read the subsequent adventures and want to go back and explore the stories that have already been told.”
“When we first launched the Gold Key characters at Dynamite, we brought together some of the most talented writers and artists in the industry to set our interpretations apart,” Dynamite CEO and Publisher, Nick Barrucci said. “Now with The Sovereigns, we have done it again, to introduce something unlike anything that has ever come before. We are working with four incredible writers that we have never worked with before to build this new world, and have such incredible faith in the series that we’re launching it at the introductory price of $1.00 for 48 pages to ensure we can get the series into the most hands possible via retailers!”
“Since this is a jumping on-point, we really wanted to kick things off with a lot of noise and without asking a lot from the readers, cost-wise,” Idelson added. “We’re putting our money where our mouth is since we have such a high level of belief and excitement in this. And Sovereigns is just the start! And you won’t have to wait long for more!”
The Sovereigns #0, a 48-page $1 comic illustrated by Johnny Desjardins, is scheduled for April 5th release. The book will feature cover art by Stephen Segovia, as well as special “Sneak Peek” variant incentive covers featuring art by Johnny Desjardins, Stephen Segovia, and Philip Tan.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.