Happy 100th Birthday to Jack “The King” Kirby.

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Today one of the worlds most influential comic book creators ever, Jack “The King” Kirby had the one-hundredth anniversary of his birth. Now I know that this blog is normally centered around anime, but this man and his work has meant so much to me over my life that I felt I had to talk about it. In case you aren’t in the know, Jack Kirby was an American comics book creator and artist, born Agust 28, 1917 who died February 6, 1991. Throughout his life, Jack Kirby created and co-created some of the worlds most well-known and beloved superheroes. Some of these creations include Thor, The Fantastic Four, Captian America, Silver Surfer, Cyclops, Etrigan The Demon, and Kamandi:

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The Last Boy On Earth.But in this post, I don’t want to give you a simple history lesson. In this post, I want to write something more personal. I’m going to give you my history with this man’s art, and what it’s meant to me over my life. The first memory  I have of encountering his work was when I was twelve years old. I was at a local comics book/ video store and was going through some of their back issues when I stumbled upon an issue of what is now my favorite comic of all time, OMAC: One Man Army Corps #4. Right out of the gate I was blown away with the amazing art which this series had. I loved the was his machines were so intricately designed and the dark thick shadowing on the blocky square -awed characters. I loved the way that he screwed with proportions, yet his characters never looked off. This style of shading and proportions would heavily influence my future artistic endeavors.

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But it wasn’t just his art that drew me into his stories it was something deeper. Although I didn’t realize what this was until I have embedded myself deeply into the work of Jack Kirby (which involved reading all of The New Gods saga, as well as Journey Into Mystery, OMAC, and Fantastic Four, among others). What I loved in his work even more than his writing are his themes. Jack Kirby’s work tended in his early days to have themes of war with Captain America being the prime example. But the theme that appears in his later work is what I truly resonate with, the theme of pushing towards the future. Jack Kirby seems to have had an incredibly optimistic view of the future, with his later work tending to have some sort of route in sciences. Fantastic Four is the first of these, with Cosmic Rays, and the like being worked into his stories, but where I feel this theme really shined is once again in the great, OMAC.

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This series featured a look into the future, where the world is united and is looked after by the Pece Agents. These men and women protect the entire world with their identities hidden by cosmetic spray as they represent the whole world, not just a single country. I have always found this idea quite appealing, a world where crime is judged by many an unbiased people, not a jury of random people off the street, or a single judge both of which, could (in some occurnce) be paid to slant the decision in one way or another. This world while it may seem perfect (to some) still has problems and that’s why I find it so interesting because humans are always compromisable and are never truly good nor evil, meaning that a perfect world can never exist. This idea has shaped the way that I look at the world and human life until this very day.

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Before I finish this post there is one last thing I would like to touch on in relation with Jack “The King” Kirby, and that is the way he wrote dialogue. In the world where books like Teen Titans and other teen-oriented books were trying to be “hip” and always used the slang of their area in the dialogue, Kirby’s work stood out among the rest. His dialogue was always packed to the brim with meaning and was writing in a way that makes it seem timeless and so it can be enjoyed in any era. Jack Kirby’s characters were the few of the time that didn’t sound like some sort of hilariously campy uncle or a generic “rad” teenager. They sounded like people. Real honest to god people with actual emotions, which even today is really special. The characters weren’t constantly spewing 60s or 70s slang, they just spoke in English. No frills. No silly eloquences like Stan Lee’s writing tended to have. They spoke like an average joe you’d find on the street. And that’s something which has rarely been done right, even to this day.

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Well, I hope you enjoyed this “little” post about what, Jack Kirby’s writings meant to me and why I enjoy it so much even to this day. See you in the next one.

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DESCENDER: A MASTERPIECE OF TIN.

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I just finished reading Descender Volume 1: Tin Stars. It collects the first 6 issues of the currently running Image series written by Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Essex Country), wih art by the amazing Dustin Nguyen (Li’l Gotham), and it was extraordinary. Merely 20 years ago you would be hard pressed to find an Image book which was considered a masterful work of fiction (excluding The Maxx, and mabye Spawn). But in recent years, when Image started moving away from 90’s superheroes (with pouches and belts galore) and started to focus on more interesting indie esque series, they became a comapny constantly ringing out 10s (ie. Invincible, East to West, and Paper Girls).

Alot of the appeal of Descender (at least for me) is the spectacular art by Dustin Nguyen. I’ve followed him for an incredibly long time, and he may very well be my favourtie current comic book artist. He can really bring the spectacular alien worlds, scenery, and characters to life using his incredibly interesting, and cartoon esque water colour paint style. The amount of white used in both the character designs of the UGC characters, and much of the background makes the use of color look even more stunning and stand out. This is one of the few comics where I actually stop to admire the art regularly, and that’s something special.

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Of course as we all know art is only half of a comic book, the writing is just as important. Jeff Lemire is one of my favourtie comic book writers ever, meaning that him and Dustin Nguyen teaming up for this book makes it an absolute dream for me. He has the profound ability to flesh out a world and it’s characters equally, and at the same time. Each of the few planets that we visit in Descender all feel intersting and origional. They all have their own destinct popuations, from one that only has robots left alive, to one popualted completely by robot hating pig esque alien things. The universe obviously has a deep hirstory and lore that I’m excited tofind out more about when I inevitabley buy  “Descender Volume 2: Machine Moon”.

Descender is interesting in the fact tha it is one of the few, truly great science fiction comics of the 2010s. Where as back in the 1950s and 60s so much of comics were space operas like Adam Strange, Star Wars, and Jak Kirby’s The Fourth World, but today we don’t have much of that. Of course we do have Thanos, Gaurdians of The Galaxy, and all of the Star Wars comics, but all of those are in an interconnected web which can, at best can kind of stand alone, and at worst are so bogged down in continuity that they drown under the weight of their own history. Descendeer isn’t like that, it’s new, fresh, and exremely exhilerating, the art is stunning, the writing is interesting, and the universe is spectaular. This comic is truly beautiful, and you should all go out and pick it up.

Spider-man Season 1

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In 2012 Marvel had an idea to take some of their most popular characters (and Ant-man) and give them the Batman: Year One Treatment (the Year One line is trademark DC Comics). Edit: They decided to give them the season one of a TV show treatment (doesn’t sound as good but whatever). So of course with Spider-man being their most popular character they decided to give him one of these graphic novels, and it’s pretty mediocre.

Most of this graphic novel adapts Amazing Fantasy #15 (The Wall Crawler’s first appearance) but the remaining amount of the graphic novel adapts Amazing Spider-man #2(the first appearance of The Vulture). For some reason, they decided to skip issue 1 of The Amazing Spider-man which introduced the reoccurring character The Chameleon. Being a graphic novel the artist had more time to work on it and as such. Unfortunately, the writer DID NOT take this time to work on perfecting the script.

Spiderman Season One turns Uncle Ben (the almost mythical, inspirational character of Peter’s past) into a get-rich-quick scheme concocting old fool, much like Phoney Bone. Even though he is incredibly kind and is still the reason why Peter begins his quest on crime (that makes him sound like Batman but whatever). In fact, I would say ALL of the characterization in this book is off, other than Aunt May. The art is good, but not GOD TIER (of course, my god-tier when it comes to comic art is Alex Ross so…).

Neither Mary Jane or Gwen Stacey appear, instead, Peter Parkers love interest (for one dream sequence) is Sally Arvil, a character who is one again NOT characterised properly, being best friends with Flash Thompson, when in actuality she should be Peter’s friend. It takes half of the graphic novel for Uncle Ben to die and that makes the pacing of this comic so slow, especially when it only has around 160 pages to tell its story. Ultimate Spider-man was able to get away with this because it was an ongoing series. The only really worthwhile part of this graphic novel is when they do the “where are they now?” section and they show off issue one of the spectacular Avenging Spider-man, which is very sad.

overall score: 53/100

Scott Pilgrim vol 1 Review.

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I’m sure no one would argue that Scott Pilgrim is absolutely amazing.Well unless you’re a total dick who doesn’t know how to enjoy anything. Our story features a 23-year-old guy named Scott Pilgrim, who lives with a gay roommate, is the bassist in a terrible band called “Sex Bob-Omb”, is currently between jobs, and is dating a high schooler. So his life is pretty sweet. Until he meets a girl named Ramona Flowers in his dream and becomes obsessed. So now Scott needs to defeat Ramona’s “six or seven” evil ex-boyfriends. So now his life is not that sweet.

According to JOSS FUCKING WHEDON,  “Scott Pilgrim is the best book ever. It is the chronicle of our time. With Kung Fu, so, yeah: perfect”. And I could not agree more. Bryan Lee O’Malley is one of my favorite artists. He has an incredibly simplified style, which I think makes the graphic novel much more fun to read. Now I read the black and white version of the books but from what I’ve seen of the colored version it looks even better (which is a HUGE accomplishment). The author’s art style is so amazingly beautiful, he really knows how to draw action and dynamic poses, which is, unfortunately, something I don’t see a lot of these days.

The story is interesting but it doesn’t really get going until the last quarter of the graphic novel, with the rest being all set up. The “big climax” of this is book is actually a huge letdown, with the battle between Scott, and evil boyfriend #1 only taking 20 pages, and half of those are two-page spreads. Although all problems I have with it are basically fixed in vol 2. The humor in this book is also absolutely hilarious, but may be kind of inaccessible for non-nerds.

So taking that all into account, I’m going to throw all objectivity out of the window and give Scott Pilgrim an, 11 out of 10. You’re welcome.