The Sovereigns #1
By Ray Fawkes, Johnny Desjardins & Mohan
The Sovereigns is Dynamite’s Avengers or Justice League; it’s the assembling of the publisher’s Gold Key characters. Now, some may be confused by what that means; it refers to characters that originated under the Gold Key Comics imprint from the 60s – characters that Dynamite now has the licenses for. Doctor Spektor, Magnus, Samson, Turok and Solar all fall under that banner and factor into this crossover comic.
Issue zero set the stage for a massive, looming threat that would be worthy of involving all these characters with an omniscient narrator delivering some intense purple prose. Where Turok and Samson were the key figures in zero, the rest come into play with this book. In a Watchmen-esque approach, a murder mystery is the driving force of the narrative that is well paced. The Messiah of Machines, Magnus, received word that King Turok is dead. As Magnus investigates, he connects with the other Gold Key character to try to make sense of conflicting information. By the end of the issue, a game-changing revelation puts the death in a perspective that has serious repercussions.
Those who are unfamiliar with this world and the characters may feel a bit disoriented at first, but the writing and art allows for the uninitiated (such as myself) to still engage with the unfolding events. Through natural dialogue and detailed illustrations a full picture is given. Speaking of dialogue, each character has their own unique voice. Ray Fawkes enables readers to easily imagine those characters and their interactions come to life.
The page layouts are done in textbook structure, such as full-page shots or oversized panels being on the page turn. Johnny Desjardins uses that to great effect a few times in the comic; it never feels superfluous or misused. That’s in large part to Mohan’s beautiful color work. The most mundane scenes are elevated with shadow and depth. It feels as if different sides of the characters’ personalities are being shown constantly. Also, the space scenes with Solar are stunning. Most art teams would simply show a blue/black background with a few silver/white dots for stars, but not in The Sovereigns! A blend of many colors, including maroon, fuchsia, sky blue and black and white, make a gorgeous backdrop for two heroes meeting. If it weren’t for the colorist and artist working in sync, the pages and structure might have felt generic and unimaginative.
The inking is laid on a bit thick, specifically with Magnus-centric panels; not sure if that’s deliberate or not, but it makes the book lack cohesion periodically. The characters all have a “classical” design with Adonis-like qualities in terms of physique, but they all have flaws on the athletic form and that makes them unique rather than stock bodies. It’s a fine line to walk, but Desjardins is able to show that he can render more one body type.
Overall, this is a solid comic with a creative team that seems to have a clear grasp of inner workings of a strong crossover series: each character has their moment to shine, a strong villain is introduced, and the inclusion of several different genre conventions. All these elements could bog down a book and make it utterly lifeless, but it works here. Newcomers shouldn’t feel intimated and, in truth, may find that they want to read more about these Gold Key characters. Dynamite has revived the old properties and they feel right at home in contemporary times. Pick up issue zero and catch up!