By: Kurt Busiek (writer), Jack Herbert and Alex Ross (artists), Vinicius Andrade (colors), Joseph Rybandt (editor)
The Story: We get to see a whole lot of Kirby and his hot platonic friend Bobbi. The backdrop for their story is the sudden appearance of all sorts of weird stuff that hearkens back to when NASA’s Pioneer 10 probe, carrying a message for aliens on how to get to Earth, was lost in some strange effect. And the story opens…
The Review: I was absolutely flattened by the art. I mean, wow. Kirby’s face alone is worth the price of entry. It’s life-like, expressive and unique, with a wealth of details, from the slight hollows around his mouth and his perma-five-o’clock-shadow to the worry wrinkles on his forehead. The draftsmanship and respect for the precision of anatomy was eye-catching. Nearest comparators that leap to mind? Neal Adams or Cascioli, maybe with a bit of an Ivan Reis’ flavor of Boston Brand thrown in. The layouts are intriguing and gather no moss as we go from page to page. The smaller, close-up frames cram the eye towards the long, scenic views that are a riot of detail. The credits page was stunning not only for the scope and composition of the figures, with feet angling down to enhance the dynamism of the page (no pun intended), but also for the startlingly effective shift in color tone and lighting. And once the weirdness starts hitting the fan (and the midwest), Herbert and Ross channel the King and get some real Jack Kirby flavors working their ways into the artwork. Quite an artistic accomplishment.
Busiek is slow-playing the writing chores, partly because he’s got so much to do and introduce. If he unloaded the wild Jack Kirbyness on us right away, we readers might not engage. So Busiek spent a long time keeping us close to Kirby (the character, not the King) to build sympathy and empathy for him. It was effective. I like Kirby, more than I like a lot of other comic characters and I’ve only seen him twice. Busiek vividly protrays a socially awkward genius who happens to have a lifelong friend in fun Bobbi. Kirby has trouble making contact with the world, isn’t sure he wants to, and in a couple of spots, effectively breaks the fourth wall to make even more direct contact with us. Why? Well, I figure there are two reasons. First is the hobbit reason. Tolkein made hobbits to translate the vast incredibleness of Middle Earth into something readers could understand. I think Kirby is going to do that for us. Secondly, when all sorts of weirdness happens, our first instinct as readers is “seen it; don’t care.” I mean, in what comic can’t you find cosmic or at least planetary weirdness? Having built an emotional bond between me and Kirby, Busiek is now free to pull the rub out from under me (and in this case, Bobbi), and I’m going to care a whole lot. Effective.
Conclusion: Dynamite Entertainment has gone to the one of the most original creators comics (or any medium) has ever seen, rifled through his dusty pockets and old papers and found conceptual gems that just needed to find the right setting to really shine. Kirby Genesis is that setting and I unreservedly recommend this book.
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