Recently, DC Comics has been doing house ads to promote Brian Michael Bendis coming to DC. These ads intentionally evoked the ads DC used to promote Jack Kirby’s similar migration to DC from Marvel in 1970. As significant as those two events were, a similar migration took place in 1995 when Chris Claremont briefly took up residence in the DC Universe with a unique superhero series called Sovereign Seven.
What made the book unique is that it was a creator-owned series, but it was set firmly inside the confines of the DC Universe. It is an arrangement that neither DC nor Marvel had ever made with any other comic book creators, but as the first new superhero series by Claremont after leaving Uncanny X-Men following a nearly 17-year run making the X-Men the most popular comic book series in the entire industry, it was a bet that DC was willing to make. We’ll take a look at the three-year run that Claremont had on the series, working primarily with artists Dwayne Turner and Ron Lim.
In many ways, Sovereign Seven was clearly intended to be Claremont’s own version of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World. Kirby burst on to the DC Comics scene in 1970 with the introduction of the ages-old battle between the worlds of the New Gods, New Genesis and Apokolips. In Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen and Forever People, we saw Kirby bring that fight, for the first time, to Earth. Similarly, the first issue of Sovereign Seven saw the cast show up on Earth.
Going even further, they specifically arrived on Earth in a Boom Tube…
They then fight against the Female Furies (also from Jack Kirby’s Fourth World) to save a stranger who the Furies were attacking. Here is the cover for the first issue, drawn by the co-creator of the Sovereign Seven (although only Claremont owns the copyright to the characters), who designed the costumes worn by the group.
It almost seems out of place, doesn’t it? It appears like the cover of an Image book circa 1992. Honestly, if Sovereign Seven was released by Claremont and Turner in 1992 with nothing else different about the comic book, it probably would have made so much money that Claremont could get himself a Money Bin to swim around in gold coins. However, it was instead released in 1995, with the speculator market of the early 1990s collapsing around the comic book industry (In 1997, comic book sales were at 14% of where they were just four years earlier in 1993!). Still, Sovereign Seven opened strongly, cracking the Top Ten in sales in May 1995. It was the only DC Comics release to make the Top Ten, selling 60% more copies than that month’s issue of Batman. However, within a year, it was selling 40% of Batman and had fallen out of the Top 100 in sales. Turner left the series after 15 issues.
The concept behind the team is that they are all royalty (hence the “Sovereign” part) from different worlds that were each destroyed by a mysterious “Rapture.” They were each saved before their worlds were lost by the teleportation abilities of their leader, Cascade. It appears as though Claremont really intended them to come from alternate reality versions of Earth, but since the DC Universe, at this point in time, did not have an official Multiverse, then instead they each come from different planets that all just happen to seem like alternate reality versions of Earth.
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