Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Remembering "Sovereign Seven" by Chris Claremont, Dwayne Turner, & Ron Lim.
Back in early 1995 comic book collecting was a whirlwind for me, there was so many fun books on the shelves each week that I was spending every red cent I had on titles such as anything X-Men, anything Spider-Man, anything Batman and other popular comics that a little gem by one of the industries greatest creators almost flew underneath my radar. That creator was the incredible Chris Claremont of X-Men fame and the book was a team comic called “Sovereign Seven” (S7), a series that turned me from a comic book collector that would buy anything that was popular to a comic book collector who actually sought out books that went unnoticed by the general “funny book” buying population.
I was somewhat new to buying X-Men comics in early 1995, I was building my X-Men collection from scratch and a huge chunk of the stuff I was buying was stuff that Chris Claremont was writing. I fell so totally in love with what he was doing on X-Men and other X-Men related titles that when I found out he was coming out with a team book under the DC banner I just knew I had to be a part of it, but unless I picked up my comic book store’s monthly newsletter I wouldn’t have even known that Sovereign Seven existed since I didn’t pay much attention to DC at the time aside from Batman. There they were on the front cover, all 7 members in an epic pose that ended up gracing the cover of their first issue, the title said “coming in June” and since it was May I was pumped up knowing that the book was only a month away. Man, those were the days, back then I used to get so jacked when there was a comic book coming out that I wanted to get my hands on, I still get excited when something tickles my fancy but it isn’t nearly the feeling I would get back in those days. After a long month of waiting I was finally able to get my hands on the first issue of Sovereign Seven, I don’t know what it was about that first issue but I felt like I had struck gold and treated that comic as if it were made of the most delicate of materials. I was simply ecstatic and after reading S7, I felt like I was a part of something special and read the publication from cover to cover about a thousand times, and while everyone in the world was reading X-Men books and everyone who wasn’t reading those were reading whatever the hot Image team books were, I was reading S7 and I felt like I was reading the best team book on the stands. It wasn’t though, in fact, not many people read Sovereign Seven and aside from it’s first 6 issues or so the title had a hard time competing and usually found itself toward the lower half of the top 100 monthly comics, which by today's standards would make the book a runaway hit. Critics found the story to be too confusing and many others considered the book to be a poor man’s X-Men title by a creator who wished he was still working on the merry mutants but wasn’t, but I didn’t care what everyone else was saying because I loved it and that’s all that mattered to me.
Sovereign Seven did achieve something that has never been achieved in comics before, it was the first comic book to ever be a creator owned title that took place within the core DC continuity. Not only that, but it was the first creator owned book to actually take a well known DC owned character and placed them within the book as a permanent member of the cast. That was unheard of back in those days (still is) and never has a group of characters interacted with company owned properties within the pages of a book that was not self published, so if anything I guess both Claremont and the S7 creative team had that going for them. As for the plot of the book? Well, the story in itself was an interesting one, 7 individuals were taken from their dying worlds to form a team while they are repeatedly chased by something they only knew as being called “The Rapture”. While they waited for The Rapture to strike they often dealt with a wide array of enemies ranging from classic DC super-villains to the evil mother of the groups leader, and even a shape shifter who took control of one of the members early in the series who revealed to have not been who they thought she was some 10 issues later. Those who enjoyed the series hoped for Sovereign Seven to take off with popularity and spawn an action figure line, multiple spin-off comics, cartoons, movies, and other such media like X-Men had enjoyed over at Marvel, but unfortunately it was not meant to be. S7 as a series lasted only 36 issues and a couple different annuals before it was cancelled by DC due to poor sales toward the end of it’s run, which I felt was a shame since the title really seemed to be getting very interesting around issue #30 with a storyline that was leading into the Sovereigns coming face to face with The Rapture. In the final issue of s7 titled “The Final Victory”, the Sovereigns faced off against the very enemy that they’ve feared since the beginning and landed the definite victory, it was a shame because the final issue felt rushed and the victory seemed forced, it turned out that way most likely because the creative team probably found out about the series cancellation and wanted to have the series end with an end to the story. So with no time left on the clock they tossed a story together as a way to give the fans a certain ending and they creatively came up with a way to make it so the series had no real connection to the real DC continuity, which personally ticked me off as a fan of the book. The final few pages revealed that the team and their adventures were nothing more than a dream shared between the two owners of the Crossroads Inn, an inn that the Sovereign’s worked for in the story. And just like that, the series was finished.
Despite Sovereign Seven’s highs and lows I stuck by the book for all 3 years of it’s publication and loved every minute of it, I must have read through the entire 36 issues more than a dozen times and I felt like I really got to know the characters and bonded with them, something I have a hard time with these days (especially with Marvel/DC). Oddly enough, S7’s cancellation started an unusual turn of events that eventually saw me leave comic book collecting for a little while, it wasn’t long and it didn’t happen right away but I was done from around late 1998-early 2000 before I picked up another comic from the stands. I felt like a small piece of me had died when S7 was cancelled and for the next several months I tried to confide in X-Men titles and the “Heroes Return” storyline from Marvel to soften the blow, as well as books from DC and Image but nothing could fill the void left by Sovereign Seven’s cancellation. I honestly can’t say why I felt so attached to this comic, I’ve read 100 team books that told a better story and had better artwork but there was just something special about S7 that stuck with me and I guess I have no choice but to chalk it up to one of those weird things that a person just can’t explain, sort of like falling in love or something to that effect. Regardless of everything I’ve said I would urge comic book fans who enjoy reading team books to check out Sovereign Seven, it’s a fun comic that was a first of it’s kind with the whole creator owned storyline behind it and it’s definitely an interesting piece of comic book history, or DC history at the very least. Heck, mycomicshop.com has the entire series for about $1.10 per issue in NM condition with issues dropping below the $.90 mark if you don’t mind scuffs, prices like that are very generous and make the comic worth checking out if you haven’t already. Well, I guess it’s time to bring this blog post to an end, I just want to take this time to thank Chris Claremont, Dwayne Turner, Ron Lim, and the rest of the awesome Sovereign Seven creative team for making this series one of my favorite all-time comic books and for giving me something to look forward to every month for 3 whole years of my life. You guys eternally rock.
Reach for the stars and enjoy the ride.
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