Posted tagged ‘Fourth World’

Review: The Eternals Vol. 1

July 17, 2008

The Eternals was the book that marked Jack Kirby’s return to Marvel comics after his all to brief stint working for the competition (a period during which he produced his best work).  The story concerns what went on to become the origins of the Marvel universe (but which was originally intended to be separte from the publisher’s other books).  In brief the Space Gods known as the Celestials are responsible for evolving mankind from the apes, and also created two other species, the Eternals and the Deviants, at the same time.  Now the Celestials have returned to judge their work and the three species of man spend the series figuring out how to respond to their trial.

I have very mixed feelings about this book.  In one regard it’s one of Kirby’s most well written titles.  Most of the over the top concepts he’s known for have been scaled back in order to focus more on the characters, who are amongst Kirby’s strongest.  But on the other hand, those same larger than life bursts of creativity are what worked best in many of his other books.  I also have trouble with the similiarity to Kirby’s New Gods work over at DC.  The concept of Gods from space is nearly the same, but the approach here is different (the New Gods was more about the creation of the mythology while the Eternals focuses on the effects of mythology instead).

I can’t help but feel the Kirby is simply recycling ideas from his older books here.  But the additional maturity that is present in the writing helps alleviate my reservations somewhat.  And as always with Kirby, the art is wonderful, and this edition does a very nice job on the reproduction.  So I guess this is a must for Kirby fans, but if you’re new to him you should probably stick to the DC books and his earlier Marvel runs on Thor and the Fantastic Four.

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Spotlight On Jack Kirby

June 21, 2008

The collection development bug has bitten me thanks to my getting to help spend down the last of our yearly book budget.  I loved that I was actually asked to help because of of geek credentials.  In the end I orderd a ton of graphic novels, filled in the significant f&sf books from the last year, put together a small collection of noir classics on dvd, and even got to order a bunch of art books.  And now it’s time to share my expertise in what I think is going to be a regular feature here.

There’s only one person I could think of to start off a creator spotlight, and that is Jack “the King” Kirby.  Kirby is probably the single most important artist in the history of American comics.  He’s credited with co-creating Captain America, Thor, The X-Men, the Fantastic Four and too many others to bother naming here.  As an artist he revolutionized the field, as a writer he was decades ahead of his time (just not his dialogue).

The reason Kirby’s been on my mind recently is that DC has been releasing his 70’s works for them in some beautiful new editions, with meticulously restored art.  The Fourth World, OMAC, and the Demon are major works of pop art.  The only problem with them is that they were all cancelled and so they all remain unfinished.  OMAC is probably the worst for this, considering that at the end of issue 8 everyone explodes in order to tie up the loose ends.  But the imagination on display in all of these puts every writer to have come since to shame.

However, I would only recommend these to a library with a sizable graphic novel collection.  For more modest ones I would stick with Kirby’s work at Marvel in the 60’s, particularly his runs on the Fantastic Four and Thor.  I actually really like the black and white essential editions Marvel has put out of these, Kirby’s pencils look really good uncolored, just be warned that these copies are cheaply made so you can expect to reglue pages periodically.  Full color, hardcover editions exist as well, but they are marketed as collector’s items, and carry much higher price tags because of that.