Silver Star

By | Saturday, July 14, 2007 Leave a Comment
Yesterday, I picked up the new Silver Star hardcover. It's a collection of Jack Kirby's last professional comic series, originally published by Pacific Comics in 1983.

Kirby, I understand, is something of an aquired taste. Me? I've pretty much always loved his stuff, probably due in large part to discovering the Fantastic Four through John Byrne and tracing back through what's often considered Jack's best work: what he did on that book in the mid-to-late 1960s. So when I saw his New Gods or Captain Victory or what-have-you, I already "knew" it in a sense. I didn't have to adjust my eyes from the style of a Neal Adams or a Jim Lee.

Silver Star, artistically, falls into much the same category as Kirby's other work from the 1970s and 80s; the actual illustrations seem almost like a superficial mockery of "classic" Kirby work. To some degree, there's a validity in that; Jack was in his 60s when he did this and his physical health was beginning to deteriorate. He also had no editorial oversight at all when working on this, so there are some places where things could be tightened up a bit or streamlined. And, as always, Jack had something of a tin ear when it came to dialogue, so the characters come off sounding a tad stitled.

So why should you buy this book?

Honestly, I would not recommend it to folks who aren't familiar with Kirby already. This is not a jumping-on point for anyone trying to see why guys like me enjoy his work. But for those of you who are familiar with Jack and want to see what he did besides the Fantastic Four and Thor and Kamandi and Mr. Miracle and all the other characters for those two big publishers, this is the package you want to get.

The story, from what I've read so far, is powerful. Kirby unleashed, if you will. It really does read like you're watching a big budget movie -- although one with considerably more originality and artistic merit than anything that actually makes it to the theaters these days! As for the message, I'll simply quote the last panel: "A 'super-normal' can levitate until sundown, but he's still a man for all that! He can survive the 'bomb,; but, like all men... can he survive himself??"

The book collects the six issues that were published, so one might ask why they should buy this collection instead of trying to track down the relatively cheap back issues. This book, though, has quite a few extras, though, that make for an impressively handsome package. First, for as good as Pacific's paper was back in the day, this is much better. The artwork is presented in a very clean, unfiltered way that allows the reader to really appreciate it. Second, there's an introduction from the book's original editor talking about how the original series came about. Third, there's a number of sketches and additional artwork that allow the reader to see Star's evolution in Jack's mind. Fourth -- and this is a biggie -- it includes Jack's original 1977 screenplay for the story! Finally, presented for the first time, are Jack's "elevator pieces" providing high level synopses for the story and characters.

Is this book for everyone? No. The folks at Image know that, and they've put together a package that, yes, is a little more expensive but is aimed at the folks who appreciate the extra efforts that went into it. It's not just a reprinting of Silver Star, but just about as complete a Silver Star book as one can actually make. Impressively well-done and my kudos to Erik Larsen for putting this all together.
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