Let’s not beat around the bush: Magnus, Turok, Solar and Doctor Spektor belong in comics. These characters are so strange and flamboyant that they are best served in medium where they aren’t hindered by a measly budget or two-hour running time. Each hero almost represents a different time period or genre, making it so there has to be a strong glue holding the cast together and the pieces need to be assembled absolutely right.
However, it can be hard to judge if “The Sovereigns” from Dynamite is really going to be the one unique project that is going to have a chance at raising the profiles of these characters. The Gold Key cast members are finally returning to the medium that best represents their stories, but will Ray Fawkes and Johnny Desjardins be able to add enough momentum into the first issue to make this Gold Key reboot that will strike a chord with readers?
The Sovereigns #1
Written by Ray Fawkes and Kyle Higgins
Illustrated by Johnny Desjardins and Jorge Fornes
Colored by Mohan
Lettered by Taylor Esposito
The epic that will redefine the Gold Key heroes continues! The year is 2025, Turok has gone missing and Magnus is good and worried about that. When even a time traveling mission to confer with Doctor Spektor and the creature once known as Solar don’t yield any answers, Magnus must brave the unknown to track the missing hero down. Plus: An all-new Magnus backup by Kyle Higgins and Jorge Fornes that sets the stage for next month’s big announcement!
After seeing so many different takes on Magnus, the monarch-esque action hero, a surprisingly refreshing take on the character introduced by “The Sovereigns,” still somehow managed to catch my attention. Magnus seems so bitter and broken in the beginning of the issue and Fawkes dials into the madness of his life through the incessant rambling of machines. The high volume of text and sparse dialogue from Magnus made the first few pages in this issue an incredibly powerful way to open up a comic. Readers will hang on every single quiet and stoic panel until Magnus opens up his mouth. The riveting opening sequence ends with the inciting incident that should fall emotionally flat but is drawn with just the right spread to nail this opening sequence.
From there, Fawkes starts opening up additional plot threads and peering into the motivation behind Magnus in the following pages. This issue does a masterful job setting up a neo-noir story and giving hints at teases at what else could be waiting for “The Sovereigns” as they slowly start to come together here. Having four lead characters that have pre-existing relationships team-up together to start something entirely new is a risky gamble that pays off only because Fawkes spends so much time introducing us to Magnus as an individual and grounding the sci-fi and fantasy world that he calls home throughout this issue.
Desjardins’s highly detailed and ominous pencils really show off some of the more grim aspects of the book. With all the captivating figure work and beautiful framing, Desjardins really feels like he was on the same page as Fawkes here. Some of Desjardins’ imperfections start showing a little to vividly when the lights of this issue are turned on and not hidden by shadow. Readers can notice missing detail or imprecise facial expressions as the issue continues on. Desjardins’ seems to have a great sense of scale and creates extremely captivating framing sequences in the place of varied layouts.
The issue in particular does get a little bit tripped up towards the end when it starts introducing the larger cast of characters. Readers are only given the smallest glimpse at the rest of the cast as the issue as a whole is anchored by Magnus. Thankfully, Fawkes ratchets up the tension at the end with an ominous cliffhanger. This narrative is coated in a thick veil of mystery that I hope will continue to permeate across the story in the arcs to come. While this issue does function like a “getting the band back together” story, we’ve never seen this team assembled in this way which makes the narrative more powerful. Readers aren’t sure of the relationships that these cast members have already had with each other which makes trying to decode their reserved dialogue all the more interesting.Continued below
While not every member of “The Sovereigns” gets a chance to shine in the debut, Fawkes and Desjardins have created a neo-noir future for the Gold Key cast members that I can’t wait to digest more of. Crossing the genre of traditional superhero fare with horror and noir influences plays right into the strengths of Fawkes and gives readers a chance to look at these characters in a whole new light. There’s a sense of dread propelling The Sovereigns to the top of my pull list for the next couple of months.
Final Verdict: 8.0: “The Sovereigns” #1 brings home a pulse-pounding, neo-noir look at a group of classic heroes.