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‘Jack Kirby’s Starr Warriors: The Adventures of Adam Starr and the Solar Legion’ (review)

Written by Jack Kirby
Art by Jack Kirby and Tom Scioli
Published by Image Comics

 

The book, Jack Kirby’s Starr Warriors: The Adventures of Adam Starr and the Solar Legion is something new and different. If you’re a Jack Kirby fan, you may well have encountered some or all of this material before as it was originally among Jack’s first published work and has been reprinted in whole or in part often

This book, however, is not an actual reprint but, in the words of Tom Scioli—whose work I enjoyed on the Lee and Kirby graphic novel bios released recently—a remix.

The young creator has taken the original pages from Crash Comics by the King and spruced them up, enlarging the panels, wiping the cheap color, and adding a pencil tone to them throughout that makes it look for all the world like various children’s books from the 1950s and 1960s.

The pages themselves are a sepia tone with a deft use of a rusty red color from time to time. With young Kirby’s spacesuits, ships, and rayguns, the panels themselves take on the look of early sci-fi pulp illustrations.

The original stories herein were drawn in 1940 before Jack Kirby’s long-term association with Joe Simon began. The Solar Legion story is slight, really, but the pages are often a treat to hover over, especially blown up like this, forcing you to examine and appreciate the detail work from the artist we are told in the opening crawl was only 22 when this was made. (By the way, one of my favorite parts is actually that opening crawl, which manages to subtly tag half a dozen of King Kirby’s future, better-known, projects.)

There’s also a two-page Cyclone Burke remix from Scioli at the back, as well, blue-tinted and seemingly printed same size as the originals rather than separated out and expanded like the rest of the book but arguably more interesting overall than the main story. With a WWI bi-plane, a “satanic” villain who controls time, and a classic-looking pulp sci-fi mechanical man, I found myself wishing for more of this.

All in all, Jack Kirby’s Starr Warriors is a bit of a puzzler, though. Who exactly is its intended audience? Why did Scioli feel the need to do any of this to an ancient, interesting, but not particularly notable strip? It seems like more a fun little hobby project than something for which there was any great need. I can’t imagine even Jack Kirby aficionados—of which I consider myself one—to get all that excited about it as it isn’t actually 100% Kirby as originally published.

I must admit that Jack Kirby’s Starr Warriors is a good-looking product, and I do love seeing the Kirby name so prominent on new product more than 80 years after the fact, and 30 years after Jack’s passing. Tom Scioli’s love for comics, and for Kirby shows through, and his cover is great. I may not be able to pin down exactly who the book was meant to please beyond Scioli himself, but in the end, I must admit it pleased me.

Booksteve recommends.

 

 

 

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