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Silver Star: Graphite Edition

A comic review article by: Jason Sacks
There are gods among us. They’re not homo sapiens but homo geneticus. The homo geneticus are the next breed. These men and women are incredibly powerful, almost Biblically powerful. The good and loyal Silver Star, homo geneticus Vietnam vet Morgan Miller, possesses amazing powers that set him against the evil homo geneticus Darius Drumm, whose overwhelming evil would transform him into the living personification of the Angel of Death.

This is the story of Jack Kirby’s last great creation, an imaginative tour de force that shows that the imagination of the King of Comics continued to soar as he aged into his 70s. Silver Star is another epic story to set alongside Kirby’s other creations. It may not be the equal in terms of the mythological impact of the New Gods or Fantastic Four, but as a creation from late in the man’s life, it’s spectacular.

John Morrow explains the story’s genesis in his introduction. Apparently Kirby first imagined this story as a movie script in the ‘70s, but nothing ever came of the script. As was true of dozens of Kirby Kreations, Silver Star sat on the shelf for many years. In late 1982, Pacific Comics approached Kirby for a companion book to his Captain Victory, which Pacific was publishing at the time. Kirby resurrected his idea of Silver Star for Pacific, creating a six-issue series. Now, as part of its plans to raise funds for the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center, TwoMorrows has reprinted the series in a collected edition, mainly shot from Kirby’s pencils.

For long-time Kirby fans, of course, this book is essential. Kirby fans will find so much to enjoy here: the wonderful look at over a hundred unlinked pages, a copy of the unproduced screenplay, and a nice black-and-white edition of a wonderful Kirby story.

But what about the general comics fan, who is only a bit of a Kirby fan? There the story is a little more mixed. It’s fair to say that in his later years, Kirby wasn’t quite the master cartoonist he had been in his glory days. Kirby’s line work was a bit less precise, his characters were less consistent in appearance, and he frequently didn’t draw backgrounds in his scenes. On the other hand, though, Kirby’s eye for action and excitement didn’t go away, and he more than lives up to his reputation for drawing amazing action scenes.

What I think both Kirby loyalists and casual fans will enjoy the most is the thoughtful characters in this story. Darius Drumm is a wonderfully evil character. He’s truly evil, a scene chewer of Shatnerian proportions who is somehow completely captivating in his villainy. When Drumm literally embodies the angel of death at the end of this collection, he’s genuinely frightening. I also liked the character of Norma Richmond, the movie stuntwoman who is also homo geneticus. She’s brave and forthright, but she also has a bit of an edge that makes her feel realistic.

The story also has an epic feel, no surprise from Kirby. This is a big story, with a global reach, that feels massive, like the big Hollywood blockbuster that Kirby no doubt imagined it to be. Giants stride major cities, men destroy tanks, and armies of slaves are obliterated in the course of the story.

This is an epic story as only King Kirby could create it. It’s not the greatest work he did in his amazing career, but Silver Star is still incredibly exciting and tremendously interesting.

Read Jason Sacks’s Obsessed with Comics blog at http://spaces.msn.com/obsessedwithcomics

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