The library is a great place for readers to discover comics, and it’s a great place for comics readers to check out things that they want to try without spending their hard-earned cash. I’m looking at comics that I find in the New York Public Library system.
Today, Jack Kirby’s Silver Star. I’ve been a total mark for the recent surge of archival Kirby reprints, having adored all the Fourth World volumes and OMAC, and owning (but not yet having read) Eternals and Demon (I have some cheap, ugly Essential reprints of Thor and FF, which I’ll hopefully begin to replace with better editions in the next year), yet based on the indifference even hardcore Kirby fans show to this latter-day Kirby series, I opted for the financially conservative option of checking Image Comics’ recent Silver Star hardcover out from the library.
First, Image did a great job on the reproduction here. I do like the newsprint quality with Jack’s art, but DC could still use a sturdier paper stock in their books. Baxter maybe? Jack’s artwork is jaw-shatteringly intense in this Silver Star edition, with the lines and colors kicking boldly into the reader’s face on every page. You’ll rarely see Kirby’s art get production this good; so, yeah, lots of props to Erik Larsen and crew at Image for doing this book up right. I appreciate it.
Alas, the indifference that many fans show to Silver Star is quite justified. Kirby has some interesting themes in play here, and with a little more time and care, it might’ve been one of his best series. Jack plays with some thorny ideas about evolution and human nature. Unfortunately, the entire saga is badly underdeveloped. Silver Star’s erstwhile love, Norma Richmond, stands around as a zombie for nearly three full issues, leaving her a pale shadow of a character. Silver Star’s inability to act in the early chapters makes him seem inept, and Silver Star’s father and a friend have too many semi-theoretical debates that just don’t really go anywhere. Unthinkably, even the big climax between Silver Star and arch-foe Darius Drumm seems like it was just tossed together to get from the near-destruction of Earth to a victory for Silver Star by issue’s end.
It’s not a total loss; the art is good. It’s not quite as good as his best, but Silver Star still packs power in a way that Jack couldn’t quite muster a few years later when working on The Hunger Dogs. Kirby’s always able to boldly sock a reader in the teeth with his pencil, but even Jack’s artwork isn’t going to redeem this mess. Hopefully curious readers will pick another starting point if they’re perusing the library for work by the King.