Jake Cortez and Kirby follow after Jake’s daughter Bobbi, who has been changed into the Midnight Swan, and the mysterious Darius Drumm finally makes an appearance in this issue of Kirby Genesis!
Kirby Genesis #2
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Art Direction and Layouts: Alex Ross
Artists: Jack Herbert and Alex Ross
Colors: Vinicius Andrade
Letters: Simon Bowland
Story: Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross
Covers by: Alex Ross (main) Ryan Sook (1 in 10 variant)
Previously in Kirby Genesis: I haven’t read any of the previous issues, but I was able to glean from this issue that somehow the spirit of various ancient superheroes have been imprinted into normal human beings, and they are trying to handle their mysterious powers while being mostly overwhelmed by them. Main characters include retired police sergeant Jacob Cortez, whose daughter Bobbi has been imprinted with the Midnight Swan, and their friend Kirby, as well as various super-beings.
THIS BEARS SOME COGITATIN’
My first experience with the creations of Jack Kirby was, like most of my first experiences with characters in the DCU, in the pages of the Justice League International. The JLI’s trip to Apokolips around issue 20 or so in pursuit of Lord Manga Khan (incidentally one of my all-time favorite villains, alongside Mister Nebula: Interplanetary Designer) introduced me to Granny Goodness, Doctor Verman Vundabar (which, given my two years of High School German made me chuckle a bit), the Para-Demons and Darkseid himself. What immediately stuck out to me about Darkseid is how relaxed he seemed. While he wasn’t shown in his characteristic hands clasped behind his back pose, his first on-panel appearance was him sitting in a nicely decorated room in a chair reading. Of course he appeared to be reading a misspelled “Mein Kamph,” but he resolved the JLI’s conflict on Apokolips quickly, decisively and without any more violence or hostility. In further encounters I was always impressed with his style and deceptively docile disposition. When his analogue–Darius Drumm–is revealed, the artist captures his relaxed style perfectly, making him appear much like Darkseid, including the hands-behind-his-back bit. Going back and reading Drumm’s dialogue from earlier in the comic as he attacked Midnight Swan, I feel like it wasn’t very typical of the Darkseid character. I can’t hear any of it in my head with the Darkseid voice (which for me is alternately Michael Ironside from the JLU series and Andre Braugher from Superman/Batman: Apocalypse). It just isn’t there. I can’t speak with much authority on the rest of the Kirby characters, but for me Darius just didn’t sound like Darkseid.
The story itself intrigued me, and I’ll probably actually go back and pick up the #0 issue and the first issue, or at least try to borrow them from a friend. The dialogue is mostly snappy, and I like how explanations are handled on panel, though it took me a minute to realize that Sgt. Cortez was speaking directly to the reader when he gives some back story on why he’s choosing to trust Kirby. He does look out of the panel at you, but I don’t typically expect breaking of the fourth wall. I liked the writing, even if I had to reread everything several times to figure out what was going on, but had I read the first issues I’m sure that wouldn’t have been a problem. The storytelling is above average for me, as most of Kurt Busiek’s material is–aside from the problematic Darkseid voice–and I give the writing 3.5 stars. Also for whatever reason the line “This bears some cogitatin'” caused me to chuckle far more than it should have.
THERE HAVE TO BE KIRBY… DIAMONDS?
Unlike Matthew, I really enjoy the high level of realism in Alex Ross’s work. I certainly wouldn’t want it on every comic, but on the occasions we get that level of realism it almost always works for me. I believe part of what helps on that front with me is that I am notoriously bad at recognizing famous people, so the stuntcasting never bothers me. This all being said, Jack Herbert was the actual artist for the book, though Alex Ross did the art direction and layouts. The art is gorgeous, with beautiful shading. I am often picky with what sort of shading I like, but this comic really works for me. One element I loved was in the scene where Sgt Cortez breaks the fourth wall, flashing back to memorabilia in many mediums to explain Kirby’s character. We see a crayon drawing, a faux mugshot, a couple comic book covers, a convention ticket, a yearbook, a prom picture and a DVD to sum up the life history of Bobbi and Kirby. The layout is great for it, and each item, with the exception of the oddly proportioned DVD case, is perfectly done.
There are also lots of Kirby Dots, and when the four Knights are called to duty, there are Kirby Diamonds, which I’m not sure if they’ve ever been used before. Either way it was a neat effect, and it is apparent both the artist and the writers have a lot of love for Jack Kirby’s work. The art gets a full 5 stars from me; I can’t really find any flaws with it.
I really enjoyed this issue, despite having to go over it several times to get myself up to speed. Averaging out the story and the art gets 4.25, so I’m forced to round either up or down… If I had read the previous issues I probably would round up, but because it isn’t super friendly for a new reader jumping on, I’m going to stick with a strong 4 stars out of 5. If you’ve been reading the series, I expect you’ll enjoy issue 2, but if you haven’t been reading it already I’d probably pick up at least issue #1 first, maybe even the zero issue if you can find a copy.