Monday, April 13, 2009

AMBFAD (Comic) Book Club

Wow. A month or so ago, I was beaming that I had found the trades for both volumes of Jack Kirby's 'Eternals' at my local Half Price Books. Last Thursday...I hit paydirt once again. I was actually in selling a couple of my TPB's that, after reading, I had decided I didn't really care for. After collecting my money, I wandered over to the comic section and POW...a mint copy of Image's hardcover collection of Kirby's 'Silver Star'!

To provide a little background, Jack had been working in animation for Ruby-Spears Productions after leaving Marvel in disgust near the end of 1977. Almost four years later a new publisher out of San Diego, Pacific Comics, enticed him back by giving him complete control and ownership of the properties he was bringing to their company. This was a practice pretty well unheard of at the time and one could challenge it set the stage for a wider, more indie, playing field outside the Marvel and DC company-owned universes.

'Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers' debuted for Pacific in late 1981, followed a little over a year later by the six-issue miniseries 'Silver Star' (which Kirby called a 'Visual Novel'). Outside of the historical relevance from a business/creative perspective, it's also historically relevant as, aside from 'The Hunger Dogs' graphic novel that he did for DC in 1985, 'Silver Star' was Kirby’s last fully developed personal project.

I'm halfway through and the artwork is pretty much vintage Jack, maybe not quite on par w/ earlier stuff...but insanely creative as much as anything else he did. Again, it's art you have to focus on or you miss so many great things in the detail. The inking is a bit rough, but the coloring is good (issues #5-6 were actually re-colored by Image founder Erik Larsen!). Additional nuggets include a screenplay version of the comic that was never pitched and penciled concept art.

The story itself is a little out there...okay, A LOT out there. The story seems to revolve around a genetically engineered man, Darius Drumm, who is attempting to kill (often succeeding) other genetically engineered men and women...people whom Kirby has given the scientific name of 'homo-geneticus' but whom he also refers to by the odd name of 'super-normals'. It seems, however, that another 'super-normal' named Silver Star appears to thwart his plan to bring about a sort of End of Days.

Fun stuff in that whacked-out Kirby style of sci-fi heavy grandeur and philosophical backdrops, but be forewarned...the dialogue is often nearly painful to read. Extremely ham-handed even for a comic book, it proves to be the only downside to the lack of any sort of editorial control on Pacific's part. That said, still a blast to read and still worth adding to your collection...i'm glad I did!

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