Team Up Trade Post: Superman, Batman, Galactus & Darkseid

superman dark knight over metropolisSuperman: Dark Knight Over Metropolis (DC)
Written by John Byrne, Dan Jurgens, Roger Stern & Jerry Ordway, drawn by Art Adams, Jurgens, Brett Breeding, Bob McLeod & Ordway
Collects Action Comics Annual #1, Action Comics #653-654, Adventures of Superman #466-467 & Superman #44

While Hal Jordan might not have been my early bread and butter as a comic reader, Superman and Batman definitely were. I love both heroes, so seeing them team-up in this interesting period (1990) where they didn’t really trust each other and definitely weren’t friends was a trip, especially because I came around later and saw them team up in JLA.

The first comic in this series is a classic that brings both heroes together. It’s written by John Byrne with art by the crazy-awesome Art Adams, but I’ve read it a handful of times and the surprise is a bit gone so I skipped it (well, I flipped through it cause, daaaaaag, it’s pretty). The rest of the book builds off of the title three part story, but kicks off two issues before that to add context. Part of that context involves seeing the origin of Hank Hall, the man who would become Cyborg Superman, one of the most important characters of my childhood!

The actual “Dark Knight Over Metropolis” story had been built up to for a while in the Superman comics because a woman who worked for Lex Luthor stole his Kryponite ring and also figured out who Superman truly was (but Lex didn’t believe her and ruined her life). She gets murdered, the ring gets stolen and winds up in Gotham where Batman gets clued into it. The work the case in and out of costume and eventually, Superman entrusts Batman with the Kryptonite ring (another iconic moment that I always heard about when I started reading a few years later, but didn’t actually read until this point).

This book is steeped pretty heavily in the world of Superman books of this era, much of which is covered in the Man Of Steel trades (which I, of course, adore). I don’t know how easy it would be for a new reader to just jump right in and read these issues, BUT I’m guessing that the dynamic between Batman and Superman in this comic is a lot closer to what’s going on in Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice than the Super Friends we later came to know and love.

darkseid vs galactus the hunger Darkseid Vs. Galactus: The Hunger (DC & Marvel)
Written & drawn by John Byrne

Of the three books in this post, Darkseid vs Galactus: The Hunger is actually the one I read as a kid. The mid 90s were actually a really great time to see characters from Marvel and DC crossover, first with the DC Vs Marvel series and then the All Access books and one-offs like this one. At the time, I knew the basics of Galactus and the Fantastic Four and probably knew a bit about Darkseid, Apokolips and the New Gods, but zero clue that these were all Jack Kirby creations coming together.

Though over-written in the grand tradition of both Kirby and Byrne, this super-fun book finds the World Devourer trying to turn Apokolips into his latest snack thanks to Silver Surfer discovering the world of awfulness and sorrow.

There’s a twist at the end of this book that blew me away as a kid and stuck with me ever since. In fact, it was the ONLY thing I remembered about this book that I first read 21 years ago. Again, it’s both reflective of Kirby’s work as well as Byrne’s writing of the mid 90s, so I’m not sure how accessible it is, but if you have even the remotest interest in Kirby’s worlds and always wondered what would happen if they collided, track this book down!

Advertisements

Jack Kirby Trade Post: In The Days Of The Mob

in the days of the mob Jack Kirby: In The Days Of The Mob (DC)
Written & drawn by Jack Kirby
Collects In The Days Of The Mob #1 & material for #2

I was a few weeks behind in celebrating Jack Kirby’s birthday, but I still got a solid dose of The King’s amazing work in recently called In The Days Of The Mob.

Back when Kirby first made the jump from Marvel to DC, one of the first assignments he got at the Distinguished Competition was actually a magazine called In The Days Of the Mob which had a very low print run and only last a single issue. Doesn’t sound like the most robust collection, right? Well, Kirby historians got together to include cleaned up versions of the published issue as well as the stories he created for the second issue that had never been seen before! The first issue, which has an almost sepia look to it features several one-offs while the black-and-white second has more interconnected characters.

I went in to this book completely blind aside from the fact that it was a crime book created by the man who would go on to create other books I’ve developed a love for in recent years like his Fourth World stuff, The Losers, OMAC The Demon and more. To give a little bit more context, the comic actually takes the storytelling style I associate more with EC or Warren horror stuff where there’s a group of stories being told by one particular narrator. In this case, it’s Warden Fry (or Frye, depending on which issue you’re looking at) who basically watches over Hell, which is a big jail. This gives Kirby the ability to play with awesome brimstone imagery before going into the more real world-based recountings of mobster stories from the 30s featuring real life figure like Ma Barker and Al Capone. in the days of the mob Jack Kirby spread

Unlike a lot of the other Kirby books I mentioned above, I fell in love with the art and words at the same time. I thought this fantastical framework was such a clever way of getting into these stories and the art, which you can see above, is just wonderful.  While I never stopped loving the artwork, I will say that the stories got a little boring by the end of the second issue. A lot of this is well-trod territory by now which takes some of the wind out of the sails, but you really can’t go wrong looking at Jack Kirby drawing more graphic crime comics than he’d ever done before. I will say that, if you want a Ma Barker story, you’re much better off reading the one in this than watching the awful Bloody Mama.

As you might expect, I’ll be holding on to this one as part of my growing Jack Kirby library if for no other reason than to look at those gorgeous panels and pages.

Trade Post: Demon Knights Vol. 1: Seven Against The Dark

demon knights vol 1 seven against the dark Demon Knights Vol. 1: Seven Against The Dark (DC)
Written by Paul Cornell, drawn by Diogenes Neves, Michael Choi & Robson Rocha
Collects Demon Knights #1-7

I tried unsuccessfully to start this review with an extended metaphor comparing DC’s New 52 initiative to dealing a deck of cards. It didn’t work out so well, but there is one aspect that I will stick with: Demon Knights is a nice shuffling of characters from different eras dealt together in a new context that play well together. In a lot of ways, this Paul Cornell book is what I was hoping for from more of these New 52 books, fresh takes on old characters that remain true to the characters while not relying on old continuity to tell tales.

And that’s basically what you get with Demon Knights, a book that finds known characters like Vandal Savage, Madame Xanadu, Jason Blood/Etrigan The Demon and Shining Knight along with newbies The Horsewoman, Al Jabr and Exoristos all hanging out in a town under attack from The Questing Queen (who I assumed was Morgaine La Fey) and Mordru in the middle ages. For various reasons, all seven stick around and decide to fight against the overwhelming odds set against them.

Cornell did some wonderful things with this book. Not only does it meet the rubric I mentioned above, but it also does such a good job of introducing all of these characters, balancing their various stories and also telling a tale in seven issues that feels complete while also leading into something else. So many of the New 52 books I read feel like stepping stones or incomplete stories which isn’t bad in and of itself when you’re dealing with monthly comics, but you can’t ignore the fact that so many of these books had creative shake-ups and what not. It’s nice to feel satisfied with a story that also works as a larger chapter.

On a similar level, the book works kind of like something along the lines of JLU or one of the other animated adaptations of these larger comic book universes in that it takes elements I’m familiar with and does different things with them that work because they’re in a completely different setting. I’ve read Jack Kirby’s Demon and then Matt Wagner’s mini, a number of various Savage appearances, Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers and also knew enough to figure out who Exoristos was pretty easily. That familiarity didn’t hinder my reading of this, but also wasn’t necessary to enjoy the comic.

Also, while the Seven Samurai-ish set-up of this story isn’t the most unique thing in the world, this comic does something that a movie like 13 Assassins doesn’t in that you learn about the characters as the threat looms, not ahead of time. When you’re watching a “let’s hire assassins” movie in that case or “let’s band together to fight dragons” comics, you kind of want to get right into the action. Cornell does that while also taking a few tangents to get more into characters like Shining Knight and Horsewoman before swerving back around to the big time action.

Artists Neves and Choi also came together to tell a really dramatic, big cool story packed with swords, fire, demons, dragons, robot dragons and priests getting their faces burned off. So much goes on and their kinetic, but clear styles really work well with the material.

All in all, I’m happy to keep this book in my collection. I’d like to get the other books before the series got cancelled and will at some point, but unlike so many other trades I read, I’m not worried about whether the rest of the series will “ruin” how I feel about this one because it stands so well on its own.

Rejuvenation Trade Post: Eternals & Flash Rebirth

I was looking through unpublished blog posts and realized I had a nearly complete review of Neil Gaiman’s Eternals book and Geoff Johns’ Flash: Rebirth. I cleaned some things up and updated a few references, but otherwise this review from January 2012 was in pretty good shape.

Eternals (Marvel)
Written by Neil Gaiman, drawn by John Romita Jr.
Collects Eternals #1-7

Man, expectations can be a real bummer. If you had handed me this Eternals book and not told me who wrote it, I think I might have maybe walked away liking it a bit more than I did, but knowing that one of my all time, all around favorite writers wrote this story leaves me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. On the other hand, the artist, John Romita Jr. is not one that I tend to like and yet I thought he killed it in these issues.

Okay, to get into a little more detail, these seven issues tell the story of a group of god-like beings called the Eternals who were planted on Earth by even more godlike beings the Celestials to make sure Earth was still cool when they come back later. They’re basically super powered house sitters, but ones that were originally created by Jack Kirby  five years after his New Gods books had been cancelled by DC, hence the HUGE similarities). Anyway, for some reason, the Eternals don’t remember they’re Eternals and are just living regular human lives. And…that’s about it. Yes, there’s also some stuff about trying to stop a sleeping Celestial from waking up, but the majority of these issues involves the speedster of the group, Mercury, living life as–I shit you not–Mark Curry. I guess that’s not as bad as Ike Harris, better known as Ikaris. Yeah, that happened.

The problem with this story is that I just don’t care about anyone in it. Am I supposed to care about Curry? If so, why? Because he’s a med student? Yeah, that sucks I guess, but do I need to watch him bumble around with his identity for five out of seven issues? No, not really. It’s funny, I just read somewhere that this series was originally planned as six issues, but was bumped up to seven to fit the action. I do not see that in the finished product. It seems to me like things could have been sped up to make them more interesting. Part of the reason I wound up not being invested is because I knew that these people living normal lives really were big time super powered beings. There’s nothing to lose. You’re going to regain your memories and go live your awesome life where you don’t really have to worry about anything and get to fight monsters or whatever. That’s WAY better than slaving away in a hospital or BSing your way through a party planning business you don’t really know anything about, right?

But, like I said, this is my favorite JRJR art. That boxy, Frank Miller-esque style he seems to like so much just doesn’t work for me. I remember pages of World War Hulk with Iron Man in the Hulkbuster armor where it looked like his armor was made out of one of those ugly metal desks. I also couldn’t get into the boxy Iron Man he drew in his issue of Captain America: Fallen Son. But, for whatever reason, his Iron Man looks rad to me in this book as do the rest of the characters. Maybe the fact that these guys were created by the king of boxy characters–and the King of comics all around, really–put me in a different mindset, or maybe he was doing something else with his character design and placement at the time, but I really liked what he was laying down on the pages. I just wish I cared more about what was going on.

Flash Rebirth (DC Comics)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Ethan Van Sciver
Collects Flash Rebirth #1-6

This was another reading experience where my expectations came into play heavily but from a different angle. I had read most or all of Flash: Rebirth in single issue form, but that was over a pretty large expanse of time either because of my lackadaisical reading patterns or the book’s lateness (I’m fairly certain these six issues didn’t all come out consecutively, but honestly don’t remember for sure). I remembered a few plot points from the first reading but was left with memories of confusion for the most part. Though a lot of that got cleared up this time around, it does feel like the life of Barry Allen was made a lot more confusing than it needed to be.

Allow me to explain. This book–much like Green Lantern: Rebirth–is intended to explain the return of a Silver Age Justice Leaguer, this time Barry Allen, the Flash who gave his life to save the lives of everyone in the universe back in Crisis On Infinite Earths. Considering my age — Barry died in the real world when I was two — I have never cared about Barry Allen. Wally West was my Flash and I’ve been around long enough to remember his more hound-dog ways in Justice League Europe and then the awesome runs by Mark Waid and Geoff Johns that really fleshed him and his supporting cast out as characters. So, when Barry came back in Final Crisis, I really didn’t care that much. What’s so special about this character who was only ever interesting when he died? Well, not much, but one of the cool things about this book is that it actually asks that very question through the voice of the villain Professor Zoom. Even with all the continuity tampering that goes on (Zoom killed Barry’s mom when he was a kid which is now part of his childhood) and power explanation (Barry actually creates the Speed Force by running), the real point of the story is for Barry to prove his worth to the reader. Whether that succeeds or fails depends on the reader and whether they can make it through the aforementioned confusion zones (which definitely distracted me from the point the first time I read the story).

I think it does a good job of showing the specific way in which Barry Allen can and should work in the DCU: while Wally is the more freewheeling guy (even as a dad), Barry is the straight-laced cop who spends his non-tights days trying to solve cold cases. Was that actually followed through on with the comics that followed? No idea. Was Wally given equal footing? I don’t believe so. Does any of this matter anymore considering the New 52? No, probably not.

The basic question every time I finish a trade is whether I’ll keep it or put it up for trade on my Sequential Swap page. I’ll be keeping this one, at least for now. I have an idea to get my hands on Geoff Johns’ run of Flash which I only read bits and pieces of and I think this might make for an interesting end cap to that collection if I do decide to keep it. I also love the art. Van Sciver’s level detail is amazing and gets me excited to read comics, even ones with big text blocks or huge dialog balloons explaining things like the Speed Force. Finally, this story reminds me of the ones that I occasionally read and loved from the Waid’s run like Terminal Velocity that brought a bunch of different speedsters together. I always liked the legacy/family aspect of the Flash with Wally, Jay, Impulse, Jesse Quick, Max Mercury and even Barry’s ghost coming together to pitch in when necessary. This story not only did that but also brought Max back from the Speed Force, so I dig it.

Matt Wagner DC Trade Post: Trinity & The Demon

trinity wagner Trinity (DC)
Written & drawn by Matt Wagner
Collects Trinity #1-3

I’ll get into it in more detail when I review the two Mage books, but I will say that Matt Wagner’s Mage: The Hero Discovered had a huge impact on me after scoring most of the issues while interning at Wizard. I recently came into a pair of different Wagner-created books that both happened to be from DC Comics and figured they’d made for a good Trade Post.

In the pages of Trinity, Wagner takes an early look at Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. In this incarnation of the DCU, Bats and Supes have been on the scene for a little while, but we see Diana meeting them both for the first time. Instead of going the tired old route of teaming Lex Luthor up with the Joker as you might expect from something like this, the story instead revolves around Ra’s al Ghul hatching a plot to nuke the world into a more natural state of existence. To do this, he’s enlisted the help of Bizarro and Artemis — a teen Amazon from a desert tribe with a general mad-on for the world.

What I like about this book so much is that it not only tells a pretty epic story, but also really seems to get what makes all three icons tick. A lot of times a writer will understand one or two, but not all three and you can tell, but Wagner’s in the headspace of all three, literally, as we see plenty of dialog boxes explaining their thoughts. The nice thing about these mental boxes is that, unlike some writers, Wagner doesn’t use them to just reiterate what’s going on or give pointless information, he’s instead giving you the important thoughts going through their heads, adding nice layers to the story instead of just more words.

Artistically speaking, it’s fun seeing Wagner draw these characters. He’s known for his creator-owned characters like Mage and Grendel, dipping into the DC pool a few times here and there — gotta get my hands on his Batman books — so it’s cool seeing him draw these big, bold, colorful characters with an almost animated style. He does a lot with a few lines and I’m a big fan of that economy of style. He also works well with shadow, darkness and negative space that’s reminiscent of Frank Miller’s work, but can also be seen in Mage.

I feel like Wagner’s Trinity would be a great book to hand someone who’s interested in getting into superhero comics, either with no experience or coming from an indie POV. It’s got three of the most recognizable characters around going on a cool adventure against formidable foes that they might be less familiar with, but still offer the heroes plenty of opportunities to show what they can do and who they are.

Demon 1 Wagner The Demon #1-4
Written & drawn by Matt Wagner

Obviously, this one’s not technically a trade, but I can’t resist a good theme post. By 1987 Wagner had finished up the first round of Mage stories and started work on Grendel. He had apparently made enough of a name for himself to get the attention of DC where he wound up writing a four issue miniseries based on Jack Kirby’s Demon character also known as Etrigan. I did a little looking around online and discovered that aside from a few appearances here and there, including arcs in Detective Comics and Swamp Thing, the character wasn’t used much after Kirby’s initial series ended. 

I’m glad I read the Jack Kirby Demon Omnibus before  this because it both picks up a lot of those threads and also takes a completely different look at the character as presented by The King. Kirby’s Demon is a kind of bright, bold, almost fun look at demonic possession with some melodrama thrown in, but Wagner’s is a much darker, harder take on the idea of a regular guy unwillingly attached to a demonic entity. In fact, that’s what the whole story is about: Jason Blood and his lady Glenda trying to figure out a way to separate the two entities. Along the way, we wind up learning more about Etrigan, Jason Blood and the demon Belial. 

Wagner’s art style is also super different from Kirby’s. You most likely have a pretty good idea of what the King’s art looks like, well Wagner’s is the exact opposite. Instead of hulking creatures, this mini features more sinewy and creepy bad guys. There’s a more lithe, acrobatic quality to the figures and action than a street fighter one. The pencils, while still minimal-in-a-good-way, look a lot more like his work on Mage: The Hero Discovered than the ones on display almost two decades later on Trinity.  

There is one thing about this book that kind of got on my nerves, though. There’s a narrative device used throughout where someone or something is telling the story while snickering AND torturing an old man whose identity isn’t very surprising if you’ve read any Demon comics. Anyway, this narration got a little old pretty quickly. I think that might have been more a product of reading all four issues fairly quickly instead of monthly as they were originally intended, but there you have it. 

I’d love to see this story get a proper reprint with new coloring and whatnot, but even if that doesn’t happen, I’ll be keeping my issues and maybe getting them bound along with the Garth Ennis run of Demon I’m trying to put together. 

Casting Internets

My buddy Brett White offered an excellent companion piece to his CBR piece about why Orson Scott Card shouldn’t be writing Superman about the real comics community. He’s right and it’s important to remember that the negative side of the internet is most often the very vocal minority.

Here’s another piece about the OSC/DC debacle from The Carnival Of The Random that explains why this is not a freedom of speech or legal issue, but a moral one.

We need more movies that utilize hyper details models instead of bad CGI. These Star Wars folks know where it’s at.

I’ve been a fan of Ashton Kutcher’s since That 70s Show, but haven’t followed him much since the series ended. It was fun catching up in this lengthy Tom Chiarella article on Esquire.

So many of Script’s 7 Deadly Dialogue Sins drive me bonkers. Worth a read for all writers.

hackers

Hackers changed my brain when it came to computers. Chris Sims’ Wired piece “What We Supposedly Learned About Technology From 1995’s Hackers” is hilarious and dead on. I can’t wait for ones about The Net and Sneakers. Damn, now I want to watch Hackers and Sneakers again…

I’m a huge fan of Todd Philips’ Old School starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, so I’m pretty jazzed for their upcoming movie The Internship.

Greg Pak writes very enjoyable comics, so I’m curious to see what his first DC work Superman/Batman with Jae Lee will be like. (via USA Today)

I would very much like to see a Jay-Z/Justin Timberlake show. Anyone want to buy me tickets to the show at Yankee Stadium? (via Rolling Stone)

kirby argo

I’m gonna end with the Jack Kirby artwork that’s tied to Argo as seen on Buzzfeed. Hope that film winds up on Netflix Instant soon.

Jack Kirby Trade Post: Silver Star & The Demon

silver star jack kirbySilver Star (Pacific Comics/Image Comics)
Written & drawn by Jack Kirby
Collects Silver Star #1-6

If you follow me on Twitter you might have seen me tweet about a stack of books I want to finally finish in this new year. Some I started in the waning months of 2012 while others, like the two reviewed in this post, have been in the works for longer. I actually got my first copy of Image’s reprinting of Jack Kirby’s Pacific Comics miniseries Silver Star while working at Wizard. I had yet to really discover Kirby’s genius at that point and wound up swapping it or passing it along to someone else. After reading the Fourth World stuff, though, I was converted. In a strange bit of timing, I actually finalized a swap for the volume on January 19th, 2011 and finished reading it on that same day in 2013. Weird, right?

Speaking of weird, that word perfectly describes Silver Star. Man, this is one wacky book. The basic plot, as much as there is one directly expressed in the story, is that a doctor introduced his “genetic package” to some pregnant women (this is not a euphemism, by the way) who eventually had babies referred to as Homo-Geneticus, essentially super humans. Silver Star, the lead, discovered his abilities while fighting in Vietnam (called Viet Nam throughout the story). He can basically control atoms and also traverse various dimensions or something. Some of the H-Gs have the same powers while others utilize them to be super strong, grow to immense sizes or become indestructible. Darius Drumm, the bad guy, has the same basic abilities as Star, but, well he’s bad, the product of a crazy abusive father who was a quasi-religious leader.

The reason it took me two years and several attempts to read this book from front to back, though, is because it’s kind of a mess. Not on the art side of things, of course, Kirby still kills it drawing everything from rocks that turn into dragons and scenes from Viet Nam to gigantic carousels and a group of new costumes. (I will say that I prefer the issues inked and lettered by Mike Royer over the latter ones by D. Bruce Berry who just doesn’t match the thick lines or deep blacks I associate with Kirby’s artwork.) The problem is how much the story jumps around. Star and his fellow H-Gs can teleport, which seems like as much of a power as a way to rush the story along. It’s not uncommon to see the focus characters and setting switch from one panel in the middle of the page to the next. At its base, the story is just plain old hard to follow.

At the end of the day, Silver Star just doesn’t feel like a complete story and I’m guessing that’s because it was originally a screenplay. The full treatment and additional materials are actually reprinted in the back of this collection, though I haven’t made time to read more than the intro just yet. Reading Silver Star is kind of like talking to someone whose been having the conversation with you in their head for about 30 longer than its been going on in real life. They’re going on and on like you’ve got some basic knowledge that you don’t while you’re just trying to keep up with everything being thrown at you. I’m all for taking off at a sprint and letting the reader eventually catch up, but there has to be a time at some point in the story for that to actually happen. I didn’t see that with Silver Star.  Still, I’m going to keep this one in my collection this time if for no other reason than to stare at Kirby completely unleashed in all his creative glory.

jack kirby demon omnibusJack Kirby’s The Demon (DC)
Written & drawn by Jack Kirby
Collects The Demon #1-16

The Demon doesn’t suffer from that same stream of conscious type storytelling that Silver Star does, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easier read. I’ve been starting and stopping this one for most of 2012 if not longer. I hate to say it, but I found the first half of this book to be pretty boring. Much of that feeling comes from my existing biases and experiences, things that I would not have had if I was reading this book when it came out. For instance, I hate the character of Morgan La Fey thanks to John Byrne’s run on Wonder Woman. I don’t really remember why, but every time that character shows up in a DC comic, I let out an audible “Ugh.” I also wasn’t super interested in watching Etrigan face off against random witches and monsters. I think this was partially because they weren’t super interesting (aside from visually) but also because I wasn’t really sure what the Demon could do and not do. I know this was a book created in a more fly by the seat of your pants days, but I could not understand why this supposedly super powerful demon was having trouble fighting a witch.

And then, at around the halfway point, Kirby essnetially decided to just make the book “The Demon versus Universal Monsters.” The Demon faces off against a wolfman, the Phantom of the Opera (in a THREE PARTER), Frankenstein’s monster and the like. At first I was bored by these stories too, especially because I just watched a lot of these movies this year, but then I thought about it and posed the following question to myself: Would you like to read a Kirby adaptation of the Phantom of the Opera? When the answer was a clear “yes” I accepted what I was given and enjoyed it all the more.

What also helped me start liking this book is that it’s not really like any other Demon comic or guest appearance I’ve read. Instead of running around the DCU and popping up wherever something weird is going on, Jason Blood actually lives in Gotham and has a pretty swank apartment filled with all kinds of awesome things for Kirby to draw (I stared at a desk in one panel as much as I did a double page spread of Blood’s armory). But he’s also got a supporting cast in the mystic Randu, regular guy Harry who loves a good one-liner as much as he loves a party and Blood’s love interest Glenda. I actually found myself enjoying the non-Demon moments of this book more than the others because I’ve seen a lot of what goes on on the page in various forms before.

The problem I seem to have every time I open a Jack Kirby book is that reading some of these comics is like watching a beautiful film by Akira Kurosawa, but with the cast of your average Disney live action show doing voiceovers. It looks amazing, but the dialog leaves much to be desired. I think these are the kinds of things that could have been easier overlooked in a monthly format, but reading through issue after issue just makes Kirby’s lack of grace with the written word all the more clear.

And that’s really what it is, a lack of grace. Kirby’s not a terrible dialog writer — there are some great conversations and jokes in these pages — but he lacks subtlety and it often reads like he didn’t give the words as much thought as the beautiful artwork. And, again, like above and every other thing I’ve seen from The King from the 70s and on, Jack can draw. He can draw expressions as well as witches with horrid faces. His style is just so damn cool and intricate that I can’t help by stare deep into some of these pages. And that’s where some of the frustration comes, it looks so good you want the words to match that level of quality.