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by Thegreatmagnet on July 04, 2017

Sovereigns written by Ray Fawkes
Sovereigns Art by Johnny Desjardins
Sovereigns Colors by Mohan
Turok written by Chuck Wendig
Turok Art by Alvaro Sarrasecaf
Turok Colors by Triona T. Farrell
So far, Sovereigns has been a very ambitious project in a number of different ways. It brings together all of the most well-known characters from the Gold Key comic universe (and some characters that are more obscure), and reimagines them for a modern audience, while also creating a framework for the disparate storylines to interconnect. In addition, the story launched right out of the gate with minimal setup or expositions, relying heavily on the reader to comb through the text for clues about the premise. This approach nicely complements the nature of the story, which is not short on mystery and intrigue. This issue delivers some interesting nuggets about both the background premise and the direction of the current storyline. While there are admittedly some confusing aspects to the story, I’m hoping that these issues will be addressed as the story continues to unfold.
One of the driving elements of the Sovereigns storyline is essentially a time travel mystery centered around King Turok’s kingdom, the Lost Valley. In the previous issue, we learn that the Lost Valley moves around throughout time and/or exists simultaneously in all times in a kind of quatum logic. The upshot is that the Lost Valley essentially functions as a nexus connecting all times on Earth (or at least all of human history). The mysterious antagonist of the series seems intent on using the Lost Valley as a staging area to attack and destroy all of Earth history. Like any time travel story, this creates the potential for confusion about what is happening when, and the chain of causality of events, and I’m worried that this series may stumble into this common pitfall. The events of the series so far have hinted at a convergence of timelines, meaning that each storyline is taking place at the “same time”, but clearly there is also some passage of time in the Lost Valley, given that Turok’s corpse has decayed to a fleshless skeleton. Hopefully as the story continues to unfold, they will deliver additional revelations that clarify the confusing timey-wimey aspects of the story.
On the bright side, I’m still very much enjoying this new interpretation of these characters. This issue was a great spotlight for Doctor Spektor, who has a showdown with the big bad of the series. His conversations with the villain and with Magnus are full of references to his past conquests and magical prowess and like the other titular Sovereigns, Spektor is a badass at the top of his game (if perhaps slightly past his prime). He is also the first character to have any insight about the nature of the threat, and we’re given some tantalizing hints via his communiqué  with Magnus. This issue also introduces two additional Gold Key characters, Tragg and Lorn, who are somewhat less well-known than the others. This issue only offers a brief glimpse of the characters, without even a word of dialog, so I’m very curious about the extent of their future involvement in the story. Solar continues to be intriguing and I love the way she is drawn. In one scene, Solar appears to be conversing with herself or with some unseen entity, which suggests questions about the fundamental nature of the character and perhaps her powers. Magnus remains the dutiful ruler, although we see some hints to some estrangement with Turok and Spektor. Samson remains mysterious, perhaps largely due to his lack of dialog. In a past issue we say his character with four gold keys that correlate to the four sovereigns, and we just saw him place Turok’s key into his skull, so I have to assume that Samson’s role in the story revolves around depositing the keys in the corpses of the defeated sovereigns. I’m also wondering whether the key sub-plot has any connection to the various solo series, which feature wildly different versions of these characters.
Once again, the art in this issue is commendable. The line art is clean and highly detailed, as well as being stylish and dramatic. There are some pages that are a little dark (i.e. heavily inked) for my taste, but it’s usually clear what is happening in the panels, and I have to assume it’s a creative choice. The colors are also very well done, and I admire their ability to create characteristic color palettes for each of the four Sovereigns’ kingdoms. Solar in particular looks incredible in every single panel, both the lines and the colors, and I hope that we get to see her fight before the end of the series. Also, at the risk of spoilers, the final page of the issue is worth the cover price all by itself.
The Turok backup story is brief, and I’m still pretty skeptical about the forthcoming solo series. They do little to explain the premise of the series, which appears to be some kind of post-apocalyptic tale with anthropomorphic dinosaurs (perhaps a la Planet of the Apes). I really hope that the forthcoming issue 1 of Turok will make some effort to explaining the background premise, and how we find ourselves in the world controlled by talking dinosaurs. The art is interesting, with lots of fine detail and a near total absence of thick lines. I’m also encouraged by the nice colors in this issue – let’s hope for more sunset scenes in future issues. The plot in this installment is pretty superficial, although perhaps I shouldn’t expect too much from four pages. I do hope that once the three solo series (Turok, Magnus, Dr. Spektor) have all launched that they will stop including backup stories in the issues of Sovereigns, to give the main story more real estate in each issue.
I’m still onboard for Sovereigns, although I’m slightly concerned that they’ll deliver a story that stands up to heavy scrutiny. They’ve built a rich and compelling world, and they are clearly playing with some very heady storytelling elements. However, much like some Christopher Nolan films, I’m worried that I will love the story on first blush, but that the fabric will begin to unravel the more I try to make sense of certain plot threads. If you’re trying to tell a complicated story, the overall success depends on your ability to tie everything together satisfactorily. I genuinely appreciate artists who are ambitious, but craftsmanship and execution are also important.

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