Dec 23, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 302: 1st Issue Special #1, April 1975


Oh, Jack Kirby. Will you ever be done mining the past for the future?

Say what you will about Kirby, he understands the superhero. His dialogue may be shaky. His plots might verge on the adolescent. Every now and again, he's kind of racist and sexist. (I'm really selling you on him, right?) But his artwork is always, always, gorgeous, and his conception of the superhero as god is sophisticated and beautiful, if occasionally naive.

After finishing this comic, I looked to see where the story continues, and it turns out that it doesn't. I had a quick look through the 1st Issue Special entries at the GCD, and from the looks of things not many of them got a second glance. I'm surprised that this Kirby creation didn't, but the mid-Seventies is moving into his more grounded Marvel work, so perhaps the gods were being put on hold in that decade. Considering that Howard the Duck makes his debut not to much later into the decade perhaps upholds this notion.

The other thing that may have kept the series from continuing is its "meh" factor. There's nothing new here, even for a comic that is drawing on mythology. We have a child, orphaned by evil raiders. We have a quest for vengeance, pursued by a heroic altruist. We have a lizard-like antagonist. Kirby seems to me to have been a champion of the Platonic notion of the outer appearance reflecting the inner nature of a person. His villains are always ugly and disgusting, his heroes always 50s movie star pretty. Frye notes that myth, in its underlying of literature, is akin to geometrical objects as underlying visual art - I think the problem with this story is that the underlying geometry is just too obvious, and the flourishes that one desires in these mythic variations are too thin to conceal the foundation upon which the story is built.

That does it for my recent dollar bin finds. Some Christmas stuff for the next few days. See you then.

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