Saturday, June 14, 2014


SPIRIT WORLD (DC, 2012; Hardcover)
Collects Spirit World No. 1 and the Jack Kirby drawn stories from Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion No. 6 and Weird Mystery Tales Nos. 1-3 (cover dates Fall 1971- December, 1972).
Writer and Artist: Jack Kirby
Additional art on one selection by Sergio Aragones

I can recall fans in comic shops bashing Kirby in the '80s. Now that he is dead everyone speaks of him in hushed, awed tones, his every brushstroke a testament to his unparalleled genius or whatever gobbledygook comic hipsters use these days. As for me, I am of the mindset that there are no sacred cows, no artists beyond criticism or critiquing. Kirby most certainly belongs on the Mount Rushmore of greatest comic artists, seeing as how created or co-created some of the most enduring characters in comics.

One can't mention “The King” without someone bringing up how Marvel has raped his heirs. I have said it before and I will say it again: Kirby was a lousy businessman, the worst. He took companies on their word and was shocked when they repeatedly stabbed him in the back. It doesn't make it right, and I am not defending Marvel or DC, but Jack was desperate to put food on the table for his family and that made him vulnerable to the vultures. It doesn't change his horrible dealings, however. Just because Marvel and DC morally owe his estate doesn't mean they legally do, sadly enough.
That brings us to this book. Comics historian and Kirby's close friend Mark Evanier writes an interlude which provides invaluable context and insight. In it, he tells how Kirby envisioned many things that are commonplace for the medium here in the second decade of the 21st century. How he wanted to make comics for adults, more sophisticated, and to have the books have better production values (i.e. better paper), even envisioning deluxe editions which are now the norm. DC told him what he wanted to hear and he was off to the races. DC got cold feet and cut him off at the knees, leaving him with his vision mostly unrealized.
When Kirby was inspired and motivated he could move mountains. Spirit World is pretty inspired Kirby stuff, with him attempting something a little different. My favorite story in the book is the one about Nostradamus. There are inklings of something more but by and large this is just Kirby doing ghost stories. That is good enough in my book.
Kirby is power. 
This series is a footnote in Kirby's career, albeit a fascinating one that deserves a closer look. I am glad that DC released this book, as I was completely unaware of the existence of this prior to it.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.
The OCD zone- This book is presented in the same dimensions as the original magazine. This is a high quality offering which makes the sometimes low quality of DC's current collected editions offerings even more frustrating.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: Article by Mark Evanier. (2 pages)
Creator biographies. (1 page)
Linework and Color restoration rating: 5 out of 5. Everything is perfect. This makes DC's frequent shortcomings even more frustrating. They know how to make good books, they simply choose not to. Sad.
Paper rating: 5 out of 5. Beautiful thick uncoated stock.
Binding rating: 5 out of 5. Smyth sewn binding, seven stitches per signature. Lays perfectly flat. This has one of the nicest bindings that I have ever seen on a DC book.
Hardback cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. The image is printed on the casewrap and has a nice thick waxlike lamination.

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