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An Author’s Blog

Reading Comic Books - New Gods Special #1

· by Brett · Read in about 4 min · (769 Words)

Every now and again I post on this blog to talk about a comic book I like. It’s been a while since the last time I did, and in the mean time I’ve moved from Ubuntu to Windows. So, I needed a comic book reader for my Windows 10 desktop. I tried to check out a Lifehacker article but the site detected that I have an adblocker enabled and wouldn’t let me progress, so I went to the next Google result, which was an article on Windowsreport.com. There were reviews of a few different readers, but they weren’t very in depth, and didn’t sound like the reviewer was enormously informed about the subject. I then found a Reddit about Windows tablet apps for reading comic books. I was interested in Yac Reader from the suggestions, but I couldn’t find a Windows 10 version on their website. In the end I plumped for Cover.

The reason I went to all this trouble is that DC are relaunching the New Gods. I’ve always been a fan of Kirby’s New Gods and I noticed DC has published The New Gods Special #1. They say:

In a feature length story, Orion and Lightray must come to the aid of Forager and his people, as Kalibak has established a brutal dictatorship over the Bug colony. In confronting his evil brother, Orion faces the darker side of his own nature. And, in a back-up story, master comics writer/artist Walter Simonson tells a tale of a young Orion and his friend Seagrin. Also includes a reprint of a classic New Gods tale by Jack Kirby!

The main story is a battle between Orion and his evil brother, Kalibak. As just a battle between two characters, the story doesn’t have a hugely convoluted plot. It is more intended, I’m guessing, as a way of quickly introducing a bunch of characters that will then come back in future books, hopefully in more complex adventures. But the main question, for me, is not the story, it’s the art. There is absolutely no way it could ever be compared with the classic work of the genius that was Kirby, but I was pleasantly surprised. It is a nice compromise between the excess of Kirby’s art and a more modern, more disciplined style.

According to the Wikipedia article on Kirby:

For almost a decade, Kirby provided Marvel’s house style … and designing their visual motifs. He often provided new-to-Marvel artists “breakdown” layouts, over which they would pencil in order to become acquainted with the Marvel look. Jack was the single most influential figure in the turnaround in Marvel’s fortunes from the time he rejoined the company … It wasn’t merely that Jack conceived most of the characters that were being done, but … Jack’s point of view and philosophy of drawing became the governing philosophy of the entire publishing company and, beyond the publishing company, of the entire field…

On Newsarama.com Shane Davis himself says:

This is a celebration of Kirby’s work, so you want to keep that Jack Kirby feel but do it in your own style. I really tried to mimic Kirby, especially with Highfather and Forager - which is the hardest to draw, for some reason. Not many artists, besides Kirby, can get this character to look the way he drew it… Like, with Kalibak, for example - there’s this one page he did with Kalibak that kind of explains who the character is, and I based my Kalibak on that one drawing. He’s big and hulking in that image. And I wanted to have the character stronger and bigger. Also, I thought about Kirby monsters, and his work on the Hulk, and his approach to other things he drew. And then I had those things in mind as I drew Kalibak, but drew him in my own way. And I especially wanted to get Orion right, but finding that Kirby look was a challenge. I was surprised that I was able to get the kind of raging Orion face in some panels to have the same feeling that Kirby gave him.

I think Shane Davis’ efforts come through in the art. I was particularly impressed with Forger, for example. I was less impressed with Kalibak. Kirby makes him look huge in an ill-defined animal way. Davis, on the other hand, makes him big in a modern, roided-out way. It’s a compromise, and it works to stop the art looking dated.

I’m looking forward to seeing these characters in a more complex, ongoing story.

I’m a sci-fi author, and below is a link to one of my books.

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