Images © Roslyn Kirby Family Trust.
It’s an exciting idea that Dynamite had: license a bunch of Jack Kirby creations that have either languished for years or have never seen print, then get top talents Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross to launch them in a new series (with lots of help from artist Jack Herbert on the inside art). Ross has been working with Dynamite for a while now on a number of projects, Ross and Busiek famously worked on MARVELS together. An exciting idea, and Busiek’s story gets off to a fine start in issue 0.
The premise is based on a real event: Jack Kirby once drew idealized, heroic male and female figures and offered them to NASA to put on an engraved plaque on an interstellar probe. In real life, NASA didn’t follow through with that idea, in the comic they did, and somehow that probe ends up in a fantastic universe full of Kirby creations. Before long they’re all headed to Earth. Issue 0 also does a good job of establishing our viewpoint characters, a boy and girl, and the girl’s policeman father.
As the real story begins in issue 1, Earth is being bombarded by super characters, they’re turning up everywhere, perhaps triggered by the giant male and female figures (the ones drawn by Kirby) that appear in the sky just before the meta-invasion commences in earnest. Our viewpoint characters Kirby and Bobbi are older here, teenagers, and are soon in the thick of things. But Bobbi gets drawn in a bit too far and taken over by one of the entities, becoming a new meta herself. Kirby and Bobbi’s father are determined to save her.
Much of the issue is short bits of story throwing new characters into the mix, and that’s my only real problem with this series: there’s so many characters we hardly have time to get to know any of them. Think about the DC and Marvel heroes, how they developed over years before teaming up in the JLA and Avengers (okay, not so many years in the latter, but still…). Readers had time to get to know and love them individually before seeing them in teams. Dynamite is apparently trying to do it the other way round, throwing dozens of characters into this book, then spinning off individuals in their own series. Busiek does his best, but many of the characters get short shrift. I’m reminded of what happens if you give a kid a boxful of new toys. What does he do? Dumps it out on the floor in a chaotic jumble. If you give him one toy at a time, over days, he has a lot more fun getting to know each one.
The art on the series looks great. Some pages, or parts of pages, are full Ross watercolors, others are a mix of Ross and Herbert, some seem to be all Herbert, but perhaps over Ross layouts. Even though I’ve just read these, I can’t say any of the metas really stand out in my mind. Like that toybox, it’s kind of a jumble. I like the series well enough to read the rest, though, and it’s recommended.