Monday, February 21, 2011

A Silver Star For The King!

Toward the end of Jack "King" Kirby's vibrant career before he went off to the animation field to at long last make some real money, he put together some memorable comic books for the fledgling direct-sales outfit Pacific Comics. In fact it was his Captain Victory and his Galactic Rangers which initiated Pacific's presence on the comic book racks. Kirby's other Pacific book was Silver Star. That concept as well as Captain Victory and a host of others are currently being revived over at Dynamite Comics.

I just read the Image Comics reprint of Silver Star. This came out several years ago, and it offers a slightly larger version of Kirby's tale of the rise of Homo-Geneticus. The original was printed with various papers making for an uneven reading experience.

Here's the premise. A Doctor Bradford Miller experiments with the human genetic code using many volunteers. He wants to create a human able to withstand an atomic war. His results are a wave of children possessing vast superhuman powers, who are able to varying degrees to manipulate the very molecules around them. Our protagonist, a young man named Morgan Miller, has his powers erupt on him during a stint in Vietnam, when he throws a full-sized tank against the enemy. He shuts down immediately and the military begin to assess the problem, robing their new superman in a silver alloy.

Years pass and other of Miller's children make their presences known, especially an evil character named Darius Drumm, the son of a bogus preacher. Other members of this new species, "Homo-Geneticus", are encountered as the six-issue storyline unfolds. We meet Norman Richmond, a beautiful blonde actress who has the gift. We also encounter Elmo Frye, a young black man who can become the giant defender of the inner city, Big Masai. As Silver Star narrows his search for the arch-fiend Darius Drumm, there are casualties. Eventually a great battle is had involving the life-erasing Angel of Death.

This tale was originally a screenplay and the Image reprint offers up Kirby's play to compare to the comic which eventually developed from it. There are some differences.

Silver Star wasn't one of Kirby's greatest concepts, but it is a weird and wacky ride full of Kirby's bluster and distinctive storytelling. The early chapters seem to have been done long before the finale was concocted, they have a different feel to them, and frankly seem to be made by a Kirby more in commmand of his skills.

Also of note is the inking. Mike Royer inked the early installments and Bruce D. Berry the last few. Mike Thibodeaux inks some of the covers. Royer does the best work on Kirby, while Berry stays true to the King's lines with great fidelity, if not special energy.

There's a version from Twomorrows with just the pencils. I might have to get this sometime and compare.

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  1. I seem to recall that SILVER STAR was another Kirby koncept that had started out earlier and was dusted off in the wake of the success (such as it was) of CAPTAIN VICTORY. Thus it seems likely that later ones were a continuation to something he may have long since lost interest in.

  2. It seems clear this was produced over a span of time. Kirby was aching to help the fledgling direct sales market, and by helping to launch Pacific, he did. It's those Pacific comics by Kirby and later Mike Grell which got me to pay attention.

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