Today comic enthusiasts celebrate the 100th birthday of one of the medium’s most prolific and creative contributor: Jack Kirby.
Born as Jakob Kurtzberg to a couple of austrian refugees he lived a life that demanded a certain hardening; from the regular fights in his neighborhood, the people who took offense with his jewish heritage to the events he witnessed as a reconnaissance officer in World War II. But all those things it seems have been repurposed into fuel for his creativity. You have to really work on yourself if you probably propose this as a depiction of mankind after you took a trip through the madhouse of war:
The first time i heard about the King of Comics was in the editorial of a german Spider-Man comic; it was his obituary. And to my discredit i admit that i quickly read over the text, stuttered a short “I’m sorry for the loss.” and continued to read the next installment of Maximum Carnage.
Over the coming years i continued stumbling over Jack Kirby’s legacy but it took me a while to finally look up the man’s body of work; which made me realize why he was called “The King” by his peers (after the title publisher Martin Goodman gave himself, and got mocked for behind his back): his work ethic and creativity made him produce a massive amount of pages, he had his hands in the creation of romance comics and helped invent the visual language of modern superhero comics. Mister Miracle, Big Barda, Darkseid as well as the rest of the Fourth World pantheon, Etrigan, Kamandi, the Challengers of the Unknown, OMAC, Machine Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, the X-Men, the Avengers, the mighty Thor, the Eternals, Uatu the Watcher and Captain America are only a few of the figures that are still in use to this day; all of them played a role in my path through the world of visual storytelling.
But like many of the people who paved the way for modern comics his name isn’t the one on everyone’s lips. “Comics will break your heart.” is a sentence of his that is uttered amongst the enthusiasts and pros alike. I hope it wasn’t the medium but the industry that caused his heartache, because i imagine this man sitting before his drafting table drawing and creating page after page, creating his legacy with a twinkle in his eye instead of constant resentment of his profession; because it would make feel the readers enthusiasm for his work like the crack of a whip.
 The Kirbymuseum website has a short article about it. [link]
 James Romberger was told by Kirby to put his art in galleries because the industry didn’t treat him very well. [link]
 One of the many articles on the web telling the troubled story of royalties and acknowledgement of their work. [link]
Further reading: a short story about the relationship between Stan Lee and Jack Kirby; Citizen Conn by Michael Chabon
Thank You for Your time!
“Of course this title was going to be his pick of the week no matter if it turns out to be a turd sandwich served with a glass of warm Natursekt.” is probably the first thought when i declare that Mister Miracle no.1 is my comic of the week. And that is true because i already enjoyed last weeks New Gods Special more than is warranted.
Jack Kirby’s creations, and the figures from his Fourth World in particular, all have an aura around them; an honesty that has become a mainstay in contemporary comics but even years after their first publication feels like nothing else.
And in the centennial of the King Of Comics DC-Comics publishes a continuation of one of the most beloved figures and the Fourth World he inhabits that evokes an almost equal buzz as when i read Mister Miracle’s premiere issue.
Of course, DC made sure this book would cause a wave by giving writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerards the keys to the Hot Rod that Grandpa built back in the day but Dad put a blanket upon because he did not get the time to continue the work (which is an elaborate metaphor for Grant Morisson’s work on the characters).
The comic opens with a facette that always was there in the beginning of Scott Free’s existence as the greatest escape artist there is, but twists it to the ultimate conclusion: only the best escape artist can built the ultimate trap for himself. But not only does the contraption put Mister Miracle in chains; the whole pantheon of the New Gods is trapped with him.
And as if that isn't enough to push against; Darkseid is.
But the story of this escape act would not work as well as it wasn’t for Mitch Gerards. He makes the characters stand out of their surroundings; gives them the boldness that is associated with New Gods and Forever People. But while Kirby gave us figures that feel like springs under permanent tension declaring their readiness to expand any moment by emanating the famous Kirby crackle, Gerards relies on their presence to instill the awesomeness of the figures.
He deepens the unrealiable nature of what we see on the page by working with distortions and in one instance even by placing pieces of adehsive tape on the page.
A downside to this issue is that a person that reads this issue without prior knowledge of the characters and their relations to each other and the larger DC-Universe could put it away with the thought of it being nothing more than DC trying to copy the “artsy fartsy” approach Tom King brought to the Vision or the Omega Men. But like with the two mentioned series, he examines an aspect of the character in his way, or in this case rather focuses on an ignored one: Scott Free was sent to a life of torture at the hands of Darkseid and Granny Goodness to secure a peace treaty that only was honored until it afforded Darkseid to further his power.
While i am counting the days until the second issue is officially released (September 13th) the sentence above presents the biggest stone in the way of this title to become more than just a Kirby acolyte’s favourite contemporary comic. But the events unfold in the broader continuity of the DC Universe, and when Darkseid is mentioned there is more at stake than just the city a hero is located at.
Mister Miracle no.1
published by DC-Comics
written by Tom King
art by Mitch Gerards
lettered by Clayton Clowes