by Benjamin Ong Pang Kean
The King is dead.
Long live The King.
But it’s a good time to be a fan of the King.
Image Comics will be collecting Jack Kirby’s Silver Star
Featuring lovingly reconstructed color work, this deluxe hardcover is a must-have for any Kirby fan, who’s been and will be treated to a regular helping of Kirby goodness of late, from Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr. on Eternals
and Jack Kirby’s Galactic Bounty Hunters
to the upcoming Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus
and a “lost” Fantastic Four
. Oh, and let’s not forget about Darkseid, The Fourth World
, Jimmy Olsen
and other Kirby’s creations in Countdown
Also in the pipeline is a collection of Captain Victory
, also by Image.
We spoke with Image Publisher Erik Larsen about two of The King’s final creations.
: For the uninitiated, Jack Kirby's Silver Star
was Kirby's final creation and one of only two creator-owned projects published by Pacific Comics in the early 1980s, right?
: Correct. Jack wrote a screenplay years earlier and the Silver Star
comic was adapted from that. Silver Star
, as well as Captain Victory
, were Jack's creator-owned work at Pacific Comics. We'll be publishing Captain Victory
later this year. We're treating these projects with reverence they deserve, by painstakingly re-mastering the color in a manner that Jack would be proud of. Overseeing the restoration has been a gas.
: How did Image obtain the license to reprint the original six-issue Silver Star
: We contacted the Kirby Estate. Image has been very good to the Kirbys over the years. The biggest paycheck Jack ever got was from Image Comics. We're huge fans and huge supporters and it was a natural fit for Image to be involved. Jack Kirby made all
of our careers possible. If it wasn't for Jack, there might not be any comics for us to have been part of. This is a way of giving back to the greatest creative force the comic book field has ever known.
: Right. Image and Genesis West Publishing co-published The King’s Phantom Force
in the mid-1990s and you’d even inked some of the pages together with Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Jerry Ordway, and others. So, you guys at Image still kept in touch with the Kirby Estate after all these years?
: I can’t speak for the others, but I certainly have. I’m a huge Kirby fan. I absolutely love what that man did.
: While we’re at it, are there plans to reprint/collect Phantom Force
as well? Are you and Image in talks to do so?
: Phantom Force
is a possibility but it’s not a high priority at this time.
: Okay, moving back to Silver Star
, as mentioned, it was first conceptualized by The King in the mid-1970s as a movie screenplay. What do you and Image see in collecting a property like this?
: It's a mind-blowing piece of work and it contains some big ideas. The kind of ideas that, for most of us, come once in a lifetime but for Jack they kept on coming throughout his incredible career.
: Last year, Two Morrows Publishing collected the six-issue mini-series in the form of Silver Star: Graphite Edition
, whereby The King's pages were reproduced from his powerful, unlinked pencil art. How are you and Image repackaging Silver Star
this time around? As I understand it, Silver Star
will be collected in full color for the first time ever. What other DVD-type extras can we expect from the Image collection?
: We're aiming to be as complete as possible. We'll have the fully restored page in an oversized format and we're making every effort to match the original color for the first four issues and then re-color the final issues to match those. The original Silver Star
series wasn't seamless because the last two issues were colored radically different from the others with airbrushed effects that looked, frankly, awful. I colored the last two issues myself, basing my colors on the originals where they worked and going in another direction where they didn't and I'm using only colors that were in the preceding four issues. They're flat colors, based on the old color charts.
: What other goodies are there?
: There'll be commentaries from as many people that we can track down as possible.
: Commentaries from people such as…?
: That’s still being pieced together. We’ve asked quite a few people who were there to comment on it but not everybody has come through yet.
: In the early 1990s, Topps Comics had launched a line of Kirby-verse comics that included Secret City Saga
, Satan's Six
, Captain Glory
, Jack Kirby's TeenAgents
and also Jack Kirby's Silver Star
by Kurt Busiek with penciler James W. Fry III and inker Terry Austin. However, only one issue out of a planned four-part Silver Star
series got published before the line collapsed. As Busiek said in an undated interview, "Silver Star
was a standalone project, one that was completely plotted and mostly scripted." Is Image looking to complete and collect Busiek's tale of "Silver Star versus 1,000 super-villains"? And while we're at it, any plans to complete and collect Busiek, Keith Giffen and Jimmy Palmiotti's Victory
: That remains to be seen. Ideally, we'd do both. Silver Star
, would be relatively easy. It was nearly completed when Topps pulled the plug. The problem with Victory
, however, was that Keith Giffen stayed quite a bit from Kirby's designs and there was a lot of Topps-centric continuity. It tied up a lot of loose ends and followed what came before and it was written to set up books that were upcoming from Topps. Since those same books by those same creators wouldn't be coming from us--and since the Topps books are a distant memory--it makes no sense to do things that way. There's no point in killing off Captain Victory supporting characters, for example or getting rid of non-Kirby characters that could as easily be forgotten about. To do Victory
"right" would be to start over from scratch, unfortunately.
: Yeah, the unfinished Secret City Saga
will remain an unfinished business even to this day. But would you like to see Kurt's stories in print from Image?
: Absolutely. And, make no mistake, I think Topps had nothing but the best intentions but there were things that they did which were ultimately self-destructive. Having early Kirby books being drawn by raw newcomers was a mistake—Satan’s Six
was a mess. Having books poly-bagged was a mistake. Readers weren’t able to see what they were buying. Topps made it hard to trust that their product would be worth buying. For every good book, like their Dracula
adaptation—there were a string of clunkers and readers had no way of determining what was good and what wasn’t when they were faced with a book in a poly-bag. It’s disappointing that the good books ended up dying a premature death. Kurt’s stuff didn’t deserve such a fate.
: Finally, one last chance for you to convince those reading this interview to pick up the Image collection of Jack Kirby's Silver Star
. Why would the concept of homo geneticus and the good vs evil battle between Morgan Miller and Darius Drumm appeal to fans of The King and his other higher profile creations like The Eternals
, New Gods
, Forever People
, Mister Miracle
, and the entire Fourth World saga?
: Silver Star
is such a big, broad, explosive, over-the-top book that it's hard not to love it. It's such a bizarre reading experience with its intense, deadly villains and loopy dialogue that you can't help but be entertained. It's like everything Jack ever done and yet nothing like anything he ever did. It's a step beyond mutants. Silver Star is a genetically engineered human. He's a new breed of man, altered in the [womb] to survive a nuclear holocaust and Darius Drumm is the downside of tampering with Mother Nature--a powerful freak bent on world domination. The dialogue is surreal and stilted and strange yet poetic and often hilarious. It's a thing of beauty. It's hard to articulate on just how many levels this book is enjoyable.