I love Kirby’s art. I love that he’s self taught — yet through his many years of long work and boundless imagination he is considered the corner-stone of early Marvel Comics – and probably one of the most influential artists in comics history.
I was excited, yet skeptical, about Kirby Genesis, though. I think it is awesome that Alex Ross and friends are putting together a series based on Jack Kirby’s unused creations and ideas, in addition to bringing back characters from Kirby’s later days. I liked the idea, but I was sort of put off by the epic scope of the concept.
I’d watched from the side-lines as a similar series, Superpowers, played out. Superpowers took forgotten characters from the Public Domain, and put them all together in a series of books. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it – but it’s also all sounds much too large in scope for my tastes. I already have the Marvel and DC Universes to care about; I didn’t need an imagined collective of Superheroes, writing them as if they followed a similar path from WWII to the modern day, ala The Justice Society.
So I pretty much steered clear of Superpowers. This project is very similar – but I wanted to try it out because it’s Jack Kirby, darnit! So, I vowed to try the series out.
Story Rating: 9 Big Bardas out of 10
Art Rating: 10 Big Bardas out of 10
Overall Rating: 9.5 Big Bardas out of 10
From what I have read so far – I am very impressed. Dynamite Entertainment released a $1 issue #0, giving us a preview of the series. That really cemented for me that this series was on the right path. You see, in this series Pioneer 10, the Jupiter Probe, was launched by NASA with a plaque of humanity’s imagined self – the best and brightest we as humans could be. (This image which you can see below.) In truth, it was a drawing Kirby had done for The Los Angeles Times, when the newspaper was celebrating the launch of the probe – asking artist to draw what they would put on the plaque. Taking this little snippet out of Jack Kirby’s personal history really elevates this entire project for me. This is a tribute series in the best way possible.
Yet, is the story good enough for the average reader who might not know who Jack Kirby is? (There actually are people who do not know about him!) The main focus of the series is that of Kirby Freeman, a science nerd who is eye witness to the events happening in this series. The relationship between him and his long-time friend, Bobbi Cortez, really shines and grounds the story, even with all of these fantastic events happening around them.
They both are there first hand to witness two floating giants, in the guise of the image on the Space Probe, coming to Earth, seeking something… They do a big flash in the sky before disappearing, but over night discoveries are springing up everywhere you look: Tombs of ancient civilizations, aliens arriving on Earth, and even gorgeous Fem-Nazi warriors landing in middle America. Oh, and big-foot appears as well.
Honestly, I felt a little lost reading the issue myself. I thought I knew Kirby’s work well enough to recognize all of these characters. Not so; some are coming from Kirby’s later series, like Silver Star and Captain Victory — but many of these characters and concepts are being brought to life in the story based, sometimes, on only a single drawing Kirby did. A character like Tiger 21 was never fully developed by Mr. Kirby, but is being re-imagined nicely here for this series.
That sense of wonder and excitement really permeates the book. It is grounded enough with Kirby and Bobbi, so the series does manage to be assessable to new readers. Yet, if you do not have the patience to read characters you probably do not know a thing about, you might want to steer clear. Characters and ideas are being introduced on the fly – obviously building up for later in the series, but for this single issue readers will have to wait and enjoy the mystery.
Also of note, in this book is the incredible art by both Alex Ross and Jack Herbert. Their styles mesh very well, with a few pages that combine both artists together – that gives the sparse-appearances by Alex Ross more weight and feel within the story. Herbert’s character drawings of the mere mortals in this series really make them feel alive, even though we’re only now just getting to know them.
To help achieve this feel, Kurt Busiek has to be congratulated for the dynamic and engaging dialogue, which feels very real. This is a very tricky thing to do, and very dependent on all the text being displayed as intended. Voice levels dip, characters ramble on and on; it just all feels wonderful real.
Overall: I really was skeptical of this series. That is not the case anymore – I am trilled and excited, and cannot wait to get the next issue. This series really might be Dynamite’s finest hour, as the attraction of Kirby’s name alone is going to draw in a lot more of the Marvel/DC crowd into giving this book a chance. A really wonderful start to for the series.
Editor’s Note: Kandou Erik is a regular guest contributor to The Comic Book Revolution. You can check out his blog here.