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The writers of THE SOVEREIGNS talk the ZERO ISSUE, on sale in APRIL!

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  • The writers of THE SOVEREIGNS talk the ZERO ISSUE, on sale in APRIL!

    The writers of THE SOVEREIGNS talk the ZERO ISSUE, on sale in APRIL from Dynamite!

    A conversation with RAY FAWKES, CHUCH WENDIG, AUBREY SITTERSON and KYLE HIGGINS.

    BYRON BREWER: Gentlemen, Dynamite Entertainment CEO Nick Barrucci has called this book a “huge initiative” for the publisher. What is it like being involved with breathing new life into the legendary Gold Key characters?

    RAY FAWKES: It’s a thrill and a challenge both. I’m very happy to be taking part in this initiative, and honored that Nick & Co. trust me with my contribution.

    CHUCK WENDIG: There’s something exciting about getting to tackle an old story in a new way – it’s like tearing apart a piece of art and rearranging it to see how it can look different – and also how it still looks the same.

    AUBREY SITTERSON: It's amazing, right? I'm actually currently in the midst of doing something similar for G.I. Joe at IDW – I was brought in to establish a new tone and direction for Joe in their shared Hasbro universe – but this is actually a very different kind of assignment. Reason being is that properties like Doc Spektor, though beloved by a ton of fans, don't really have the mass awareness that G.I. Joe does. That means that there's more of an uphill battle to educate folks about how great Spektor is, can and should be, but I don't mind being the underdog, especially since we get to present an entirely new take on the character, without being bogged down by continuity or pre-existing expectations. I simply couldn't be more excited.

    BB: Have you been fans of any iteration of these characters? As you handle them now in The Sovereigns, what are you looking to do in order to make these iconic characters meaningful to a modern readership?

    RF: I was reading Gold Key books when I was a kid -- Magnus and Turok, most prominently -- and really got into them all when reading the material in preparation for this project. They’re all fascinating characters!

    CW: I was a reader years ago, enough for it to imprint. (Ha ha, get it? Imprint? Okay, I didn’t intend that pun but it’s there and we all have to deal with it now.)

    AS: Anyone with half a brain will agree that one of the coolest things about the classic Gold Key books were those gorgeous, gonzo painted covers. If you can see Spektor chasing an owl-man or Turok tackling a Tyrannosaurus Rex and not have your interest piqued … I dunno, man. Comics might not be the medium for you. When I dug in though, I remember being equally impressed by the comics themselves, as there's a sparseness to the dialogue that's uncommon for what we typically think about comics from the period, which combines with plot-heavy single issues that make the books feel like a whirlwind of action. Your mileage may vary, but in terms of what I want from a comic, "whirlwind of action" is near the top of the list.

    I read Mark Waid & Co.'s more recent Spektor series and it was a really interesting take on the character – the reality television, Houdini-esque magician-as-debunker thing made a lot of sense to me. That said, when it comes to making the concept work for me, in the right here and right now, I think some drastic changes are required. The biggest of these is aging Spektor down. I've always loved magic characters like Dr. Strange, but they always tend to be these very staid, middle-aged men which, no offense to all you staid, middle-aged men out there … kinda bores me to tears. Our Spektor is a young, scuzzy dude living in the outer boroughs of NYC, and the struggles of being a millennial trying to make a way for himself is going to be central to his story.

    BB: Ray, what can you tell us about the Zero Issue coming from Dynamite in April? I understand it is a bit of a unified anthology?

    RF: The Zero Issue is a launching pad for the entire initiative. You’ll be seeing the start of The Sovereigns, which is the story I’m handling -- I’ve been calling it the “last team-up” of the Gold Key legends -- as well as features starting the focused stories of Turok, Magnus, and Doctor Spektor which will be handled by Chuck, Kyle and Aubrey. The relationship between the team story and the individual stories is a strong one, but it might not seem so on first reading. I’ll leave the secret surprise to the readers.

    BB: There will be, as you say, individual stories of Turok, Magnus and Doctor Spektor, but will any other classic Gold Key characters appear either in the spotlight stories or your over-arching story?

    RF: In the main story, Turok, Magnus, and Doctor Spektor are joined by Solar, the nuclear entity (not man, not woman, but both and neither), and the story also features Samson, as well as Tragg and Lorn, and Dagar the Invincible. We’re leaving no stone unturned.

    BB: Kyle, you are writing a story for the Zero Issue dealing with Magnus. Without spoilers, what can you tell us about that story?

    KYLE HIGGINS: You know, for only being a four page story, it's been an awesome challenge. We haven't talked publicly too much about what our take on Magnus is just yet, but it's safe to say that it's VERY different from what's come before. Both in terms of the characters, as well as the world. So, this first four-page story will really drop readers into Magnus’ life -- and job -- while also giving a sense of what the makeup of this new world is like, and what some of the moral "issues" that we're going to be dealing with in the series actually are.

    BB: As a writer, what are the elements about Magnus that make the character such a timeless classic?

    KH: I don't know about "timeless classic"-- that's not for me to decide. What I can say is that Magnus lives a life filled with contradictions -- working as a psychologist for artificial intelligence, but also going INTO the artificial intelligence "cloud world" in order to track rogue systems down, and retrieve things that have been stolen. It's like Sigmund Freud crossed with Indiana Jones, right? That said, Magnus is able to do things that very few humans can ... and there's a reason for that.

    BB: Chuck, Turok is a character that has really had his ups and downs during his comic book lives. The fun thing about the character is that you can always expect DINOSAURS! Tell us about your interpretation of Turok for the Zero Issue … and will we see any thunder lizards?

    CW: Dinosaurs are a constant, but curiously – and I don’t want to spoil too much – Turok is not a constant.

    BB: A large part of Turok’s “saga” has always been his tribe and his unique relationship with it. Will we see be seeing any of that in your Turok story? If so, how does his people define the character itself?

    CW: This is a whole new spin on the character– this is the start of a new saga for him. The Turok we get is not a Turok we’re used to.

    BB: Aubrey, Spektor is a very intriguing character but has seemingly never found that niche some other Gold Key characters have. What is your take on him?

    AS: I already mentioned the work we're doing aging Spektor down, making him, for the first time, a young, cool magic user, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. For too long, "magic comics" have meant one thing, the type of writer-driven, dark, urban fantasy fairy tales that Vertigo has refined into an instantly recognizable approach. Sandman casts a long, long shadow, you know. It was important to me that we go in a very, very different direction, not just in order for Spektor to stand out, but because I think there can and should be a lot more to magic comics than that specific approach.

    That's why I'm telling people that Doc Spektor is going to be way more metal than goth. There's a resurgence in occult-themed metal right now, with a ton of bands really leaning into the fun, over-the-top, hyperbolic elements of magic and the supernatural. Whether it's the Norse heathenism of Kvelertak, the groovy Sabbathy throwback of Blood Ceremony and Ides of Gemini, or the catchy, poppy, out-and-out Satanism of Ghost, there's a lot more to a magical aesthetic than just, I don't know, Type O Negative or whatever.

    That's why I'm so thrilled and fortunate to be working with a guy like Dylan Burnett. When Matt Idelson sent me his work, my response was something like "YES. PERFECT. GET HIM BEFORE SOMEONE ELSE DOES!" but I honestly couldn't have even imagined just how perfect he really was. With the sparest, vaguest direction from me "More metal than goth! He looks scuzzy, but cool, you know?" Dylan was able to sweep in and knock out character designs that look like they were ripped directly from my brain. Doc and the characters in his world are young, good-looking and cool – they're people you want to watch as they bounce off of one another in this increasingly crazy world we've plopped them into.

    BB: Tell us what you can about your Spektor story.

    AS: Spektor is a guy with a natural proficiency in magic – one that came easily to him, one that he never really had to work for. And like a lot of privileged folks, it's had a negative impact on not just his work ethic, but his level of entitlement. That's not to say that his entitlement is all outrageous and uncalled for, though, because like a lot of people in their 20s and early 30s, Spektor feels like he was sold a bill of goods. The world he lives in is not the one that his parents promised him, and it's getting worse by the minute.

    Spektor's struggle is the struggle of every young person trying to find their way and carve out a spot for themselves. It just so happens that he's also got access to some undisciplined, unpredictable magic powers to help him do it. We're going to watch as Spektor attempts to use magical short cuts to get what he wants and what he believes he deserves, only to realize that there are no free lunches and that he might just be dabbling with forces that are well outside of his ability to control.

    And all the while? Spektor's personal life is an absolute mess, so we'll see him trying to hold down jobs, scrape up rent and do his best to hang on to his hardworking, upwardly mobile girlfriend, Sofie, who is becoming increasingly fed up with his irresponsible nonsense.

    BB: Ray, why should readers be excited about the Zero Issue of Sovereigns, coming in April from Dynamite?

    RF: I’ll say this: I didn’t take this book on with the intent to just play with the legendary Gold Key characters. I went to Dynamite with a plan to write the biggest story that’s ever been told with them, spotlighting each character in turn and showing why they’re all incredible. My intent is to make Sovereigns one of the defining moments in the history of each of them for the years to come. Listen, if you love Turok, Magnus and Dr. Spektor, you’ll see them in all their glory, showing off why they’re already fantastic characters. If you’ve never read them before, you’ll see a fierce dinosaur-fighting adventurer, a fate-marked Robot-conquering science hero and an arrogant mystic detective at the absolute top of their game -- and at the moment of their greatest crisis. Why wouldn’t any reader be excited?

    BB: Anything else you would like to add about this big step in the lives of these classic fan-favorite Gold Key characters?

    RF: Only this: that we take a lot of risks in this book, and we do it because we want to bring you the biggest, most awe-inspiring take on these beloved characters, and we want to show off just how great they really are. Join us for the ride.
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