To this day, one of the longest running debates in comics is whether Jack Kirby or Stan Lee had a greater hand in creating the Marvel Universe and most of its iconic characters.
In fact earlier this week, The Comics Journal reprinted a 1990 interview with Kirby in which the venerated artist slammed Lee's contributions as being akin to an "office worker" at Marvel compared to Kirby's status as a "storyteller."
Personally, I think that the early Marvel books by Lee and Kirby have a power and resonance that neither creator could match when they worked separately. I believe that Lee added the more human touches and Kirby brought the grand visuals and wildly imaginative characters. Kirby went on to create literally dozens (if not hundreds) of characters elsewhere like the New Gods for DC and his creator owned comics like Captain Victory and Silver Star, among several others.
New Gods definitely has its moments, but from the other Kirby solo comics that I've read, I'd say that writing wasn't exactly Kirby's strong point.
But Kirby was an idea machine and he left a lot of promising concepts behind. The whole point of Kirby Genesis is to take a lot of Kirby's creations and breath some new life into them for a modern audience. That's a lot easier said than done.
However, Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross are off to a promising start in Kirby Genesis #0. The duo previously collaborated on Marvels and Astro City, before rising to become two of the most respected creators in the industry. And while its too early to tell if this series will be a success, the artwork is mind-blowingly good. Ross laid out the pages for artist, Jack Herbert and the combined effect is simply stunning.
The pages don't ape Kirby's style, but there's an over-the-top quality to the figures and the settings that makes it feel right at home in the Kirbyverse. Ross even paints a couple of the pages for good measure. I can recommend this book just on the art alone.
As for the story, Jack Kirby himself makes an appearance on the opening page as an artist whose work is included on the Pioneer 10 Space Probe, which somehow transcends the length of space and time in order to pass within notice of familiar Kirby characters like Captain Victory and previously little known creations like Galaxy Green. In fact, there's some suggestion that Kirby's artwork plays a part in the universe's creation of these characters. But that's just my conjecture at this point.
The grounding character on Earth also happens to be named Kirby, in yet another tribute to the King of Comics.
This issue is so short, that I'm not sure where the story is going or if it will work as a full length tale. But the good news is that this is only a $1 preview issue and it is well worth it for that price. There's also a backup section in which Busiek and Ross explain some of the character and design choices that they've made as well as some of the more obscure Kirby creations that will appear in the upcoming series.
If anyone can take Kirby's multitude of characters and give them a coherent storyine, it's Busiek and Ross. Now that this series is on my radar, I'm eager to see where they go with it.