Archive for July, 2012

The Eternals #19

July 31, 2012

Jack Kirby
January 1978
***
Kirby’s 2nd great stillborn epic (after The Fourth World) ends w/o ceremony. It went off its track after #11, more or less, as editorial had the King focus on one hero, Ikaris, & his adventures. The result, an overly trad superhero mag, does end w/ a bang as Ik faces his brother in a Lost City.
[last issue: The Eternals #18]

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The Eternals #18

July 30, 2012

Jack Kirby
****
December 1977
Tho it lacks the several weaving plots of the mag’s first year, this issue helps return it to its epic form. A corrupt Eternal investigates ways to kill the space gods. His discovery: on a prior visit, Celestial fought Celestial! The double-page spread showing its disintegration is King-size superb.
[last issue: The Eternals #17]
[next issue: The Eternals #19]

The Eternals #17

July 29, 2012

Jack Kirby
November 1977
***
A return to this mag’s magniloquent format, a constantly roiling cauldron of super-ideas. Sersi helps the men against a monstrous mind-tyrant. The mummied titan speaks w/ the same imposing, will-annihilating voice as Kirby’s greatest creation, Darkseid. The art, however, is less impressive.
[last issue: The Eternals #16]
[next issue: The Eternals #18]

The Eternals #16

July 28, 2012

Jack Kirby
October 1977
***
Under the city, the Eternals’ leader, red-bearded Zuras, faces a psi-beast he’d interred in prehistoric times. It echoes Kirby’s Thor work w/ Lee, but the tone is darker & angst-ridden. Once again, Manhattan lies devastated; its residents cower in their homes as the firefighters stomp out blazes.
[last issue: The Eternals #15]
[next issue: The Eternals #17]

The Eternals #15

July 27, 2012

Jack Kirby
September 1977
**
Ikaris & the gang face an irradiated robot version of the Hulk. In Jack’s hands, it should be cool, but his heart seems to have left The Eternals as editorial (presumably) dictates he write less gonzo sci-fi & more conventional superheroics. Even his “neo-Hulk” lacks the rugged dynamism it deserves.
[last issue: The Eternals #14]
[next issue: The Eternals #16]

The Eternals #14

July 26, 2012

Jack Kirby
August 1977
**
Cosmic energy irradiates a Hulk robot, causing it to come to life w/ all the brutality & strength of the actual monster. Kirby makes a hard turn into conventional superhero fare, which plays to his weaknesses (ham-fisted dialogue, old-fash plots) rather than his strengths (a hyperactive imagination).
[last issue: The Eternals #13]
[next issue: The Eternals #15]

The Eternals #13

July 25, 2012

Jack Kirby
July 1977
****
A self-contained episode within the larger plot, as the three subspecies—human, Deviant, Eternal—probe the Celestial starship in orbit. Kirby adds great touches, like a loner named the Forgotten One (whose face we never see) &, in a double-page spread, a locomotive-like missile that belches fire!
[continued from The Eternals Annual #1]
[last issue: The Eternals #12]
[next issue: The Eternals #14]

The Eternals Annual #1

July 24, 2012

Jack Kirby
July 1977
***
Kirby pens a stand-alone episode, a rather creaky superhero adventure that lacks the monthly mag’s panoramic complexity & sprawling cast. Still, it’s more fun than most conventional comics, then or now! The duo of noble-minded monster & savage hunk hunt a mad inventor who’s lifting historical evildoers from their home eras to contempo NYC. An esp nice beat has giant Karkas entertain a lost kid.
[continued in The Eternals #13]

The Eternals #12

July 23, 2012

Jack Kirby
June 1977
****
Readers w/ the taste for Kirby’s magniloquence will boggle as the Eternals form a collective super-brain! Even better, we’ll relish a rare show of human depth, as a throwback to Kirby’s Atlas era monsters displays a philosophic mind. An action scene actually distracts from the mag’s propulsive pace.
[continued in The Eternals Annual #1]
[last issue: The Eternals #11]
[next issue: The Eternals #13]

The Eternals #11

July 21, 2012

Jack Kirby
May 1977
****
This mag follows a fractal pattern, w/ each issue expanding a plot from earlier. A global gathering of the titular superman introduces a polar clan—who, significantly, have infiltrated the Kremlin as voices of moderation. But to no avail: bellicose Russians attempt to nuke a Celestial space god.
[last issue: The Eternals #10]
[next issue: The Eternals #12]

The Eternals #10

July 20, 2012

Jack Kirby
April 1977
*****
This mag derives its power from its novelistic, big/little scope. As History occurs—space gods visit Earth—protagonists act & react in great & small ways. A leader summons his people to confer; a star-crossed couple loses another opportunity for love; a heroine shows compassion for monsters.
[last issue: The Eternals #9]
[next issue: The Eternals #11]

The Eternals #9

July 19, 2012

Jack Kirby
March 1977
****
Kirby has fallen into a rhythm w/ this book, expanding its scope w/o losing momentum. But despite adding characters to its roster, this issue feels a little thinner than others. Instead, it’s a big setpiece—arena combat btw a berserker & a monster—that delivers bone-jarring action.
[last issue: The Eternals #8]
[next issue: The Eternals #10]

The Eternals #8

July 18, 2012

Jack Kirby
February 1977
****
Another trope added to this rich tapestry: a friendship, once romantic, btw a Deviant general & an Eternal warrior-princess. But she’s disgusted at the Darwinian eugenics practiced by his allies in mythic Lemuria. Kirby keeps spitting out ideas, tho’ he promises gladiator combat in next ish.
[last issue: The Eternals #7]
[next issue: The Eternals #9]

The Eternals #7

July 17, 2012

Jack Kirby
January 1977
*****
Unable to apprehend the enormity of the Celestials, a trio of SHIELD agents toss an A-grenade that may seal Earth’s fate. Kirby deftly conjures true awe for these sci-fi gods via their silent enormity & faceless space armor. In this self-contained epic, he’s also created a rough proto graphic novel.
[last issue: The Eternals #6]
[next issue: The Eternals #8]

The Eternals #6

July 16, 2012

Jack Kirby
December 1976
****
A battle on NYC streets segues into a classroom debate at City College (!). Kirby continues to elaborate on his New Age mythos, constantly enlarging his cast & scope. He rations the sightings of his host of space gods, however. Fortunately, he’s got the rich chars of Gen. Kro & the spirited Sersi.
[last issue: The Eternals #5]
[next issue: The Eternals #7]

The Eternals #5

July 15, 2012

Jack Kirby
November 1976
****
Kirby revises the Olympians in Jungian style, reimagining the pantheon as a mountaintop science utopia of supermen. But his comic gets its depth from the human tension btw superstition & courage. Only when the blue-collar cops stare down the demons do the heroes arrive, cavalry-like, to save NYC.
[last issue: The Eternals #4]
[next issue: The Eternals #6]

The Eternals #4

July 14, 2012

Jack Kirby
October 1976
****
A cynical worldview dominates this mag—not Stan Lee’s humanism but Kirby’s darker vision of humanity ruled by impulses. The demonic Deviants exploit this panic, sacking NYC to ignite a war btw us & the celestial titans. Even the vivacious Sersi glowers at mortal fears & zaps ’em w/ “magic.”
[last issue: The Eternals #3]
[next issue: The Eternals #5]

The Eternals #3

July 13, 2012

Jack Kirby
September 1976
****
The secret war btw supermen & mutants for the fate of Earth hits NYC. But ordinary folks, like this mag’s damsel, fear the heroes’ grandeur as much as the villains’ horror. Kirby isn’t about characters—even his plotting can feel old hat—but he delivers on monumental concepts & majestic ideas.
[last issue: The Eternals #2]
[next issue: The Eternals #4]

The Eternals #2

July 12, 2012

Jack Kirby
August 1976
*****
In a ruined Incan temple, immortals prepare for the arrival of cosmic gods & a fifty-year judgment! Kirby elaborates on a secret history of Earth, of good and evil supermen transformed into myth. Especially strong is the sense of scope—of beings, time, and actions far beyond human comprehension.
[last issue: The Eternals #1]
[next issue: The Eternals #3]

The Eternals #1

July 11, 2012

Jack Kirby
July 1976
*****
In an exhilarating debut, Kirby lays out a holy comic-book cosmology. Eons ago, space gods mutated primates (a la 2001) to create super-races humanity knows nothing about. This mag shows an artist at one w/ his creativity, tho’ the stylized script & art aren’t for conventional readers.
[next issue: The Eternals #2]

The Avengers #34

July 5, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
November 1966
**
An uninspired tale w/ lower stakes than usual. A new supervillain has a laser schtick, but his real gimmick is an obsession with the Wasp. Unfortunately, the issue focuses on her guy instead. Since his return, Pym has become this mag’s central character as well as  the focal point of every cover.
[last issue: The Avengers #33]
[next issue: The Avengers #35]

The Avengers #33

July 4, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
October 1966
**
The Avs, led by Pym, face off against a secret society of super-bigots, the KKK by way of 007. It’s similar to the FF‘s classic “Hatemonger” ish but not as tight. Heck inks his own art, displaying his pro skills (akin to Sekowsky on JLA, coince) in the best light, but he muffs crucial plot points.
[last issue: The Avengers #32]
[next issue: The Avengers #34]

The Avengers #32

July 3, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
September 1966
***
A few months after FF debuted the Black Panther, The Avs tackles bigotry in a superhero paradigm. Cap & the gang rally to denounce & then confront a super-conspiracy of nativists who beat up blacks & Latinos! Unfortch, the new guy, a black biochemist, is more of a plot device than a 3D character.
[last issue: The Avengers #31]
[next issue: The Avengers #33]

The Avengers #31

July 2, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
August 1966
The team stumbles into a lost Incan tribe’s civil war over an eternal flame (actually a naturally-occurring nuclear pile!). Heck’s no Kirby—who is?—but he’s adopted enough Kirby-isms to give this pulp adventure a headlong momentum. The only human moment has the mutant sibs convalesce back in Europe.
[last issue: The Avengers #30]
[next issue: The Avengers #32]

The Avengers #30

July 1, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
July 1966
***
Heck does a passable Kirby impression by packing more plot into one ish than it can comfortably hold. He even equips a Haggard-like lost race w/ colorful sci-fi Incan headgear! Then he gets real comic book emo out of Hawkeye, now more chummy w/ Cap as he defeats his original mentor, the Swordsman.
[last issue: The Avengers #29]
[next issue: The Avengers #13]