Jack Kirby’s ‘Silver Star’ was, I believe, his last work in the field of comics. The six twenty page issues are collected in this hardback volume along with covers and some other paraphernalia. There’s an introduction by David Scroggy, who was editorial director at Pacific Comics, the company which put out the original material. It started as a screenplay by Kirby and Steve Sherman but was eventually turned into comics. The production values for this volume are excellent with high quality paper and bright, clear colours.
As usual with Kirby, it centres on an interesting Science Fiction concept. Morgan Miller is ‘Homo Geneticus’, a new breed of man with the ability to mould atoms and shape them as he desires. Essentially, this means he can do anything which makes for great visuals. His nemesis is Darius Drumm, also ‘Homo Geneticus’ but a bad type who wants to rule over us mere Homo sapiens. They are both the result of pre-natal implants on a number of pregnant females by Bradford Miller, Morgan’s father, a decent man who was trying to create a species that could survive nuclear war. Darius Drumm’s father was a very bad man and the unpleasantness of his childhood turned Drumm evil.
The idea of a new breed of men, some of whom want to conquer us and some of whom want to protect us is not new. It was first done in the early sixties and Jack Kirby had a hand in it. To be fair this is X-tremely different in style and theme from that earlier work. Although both Silver Star and Darius Drumm gain allies as the story progresses, they don’t get many. It’s not a team thing.
Is it any good? Not really. The drawings are crude and the script is done in the Jack Kirby style, which has a certain je ne sais quoi but will be a jolt for those unfamiliar with it. He had full editorial control and made it a condition that nobody else could change anything. The power to put down whatever occurs to you in a story is nice but, from a customer’s point of view, it’s better to think twice sometimes. Editors exist for a reason. I’m reluctant to pan the late, great Jack Kirby, but it’s unfair to SFCrowsnest customers to pretend this is something you should rush out and buy.
However, for Kirby completists, it might be worth it. Even crude drawings retain some of the Kirby charm and the old man was still innovative in storytelling. Mixed in with the usual big pictures are pages of fifteen panels where dialogue and talking heads convey information. It’s an odd technique but shows he was still trying. To be fair, the art is not his best because by this time his eyesight was going.
Raymond Chandler said of Hemingway’s last book, ‘That when he had nothing left to throw, he threw something, he threw his heart. He didn’t just walk off the mound and weep. He adds something about those crummy second guessers the critics.’ Kirby, too, kept creating until he could do no more. My head is bowed with the shame of a crummy second-guesser but, as Stan Laurel said, ‘Honesty is the best politics’. This isn’t very good. On the other hand, there are four decades worth of great stuff from Jack Kirby that you really should rush out and buy. So there.
(pub: Image Comics 336 page graphic novel hardback. Price: £ 5.00 (UK) if you know where to look. ISBN: 978-1-58240-764-7)
check out website: www.imagecomics.com