BOOK OF THE WEEK
Worthy Of The Gods Themselves
♦Tripwire gave its Senior Editor ANDREW COLMAN the task of reviewing IDW’s huge The Mighty Thor Artist’s Edition
Jack Kirby’s The Mighty Thor Artist’s Edition HC
Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
IDW’s super-deluxe Artist’s Edition series has already provided the definitive format for so many classic comic treasures, such as the E.C. artists volumes, along with tomes devoted to Joe Kubert and Russ Heath’s unsurpassed war tales, among many others. However this particular entry may well be the reason why such an undertaking had to exist – Jack Kirby’s magnificent art on The Mighty Thor, a Silver Age series that was as ambitious and multifaceted as anything in the marketplace during that era. Beginning with (former “monster mag”) Journey Into Mystery’s issue 83 in 1962 and switching to simply Thor, with issue 126, Kirby’s tenure on the title lasted for almost a decade, with the King producing an unbroken run of top draw adventures for everyone’s favourite blond Norse demigod.
In the obligatory foreword by Thor’s other key artist, Walt Simonson, he details what captivated him about Kirby’s work on this particular character, and what effectively made him a lifer in the industry – the ability to combine the bombastic and the dynamic with emotional depth and inner dialogue, and to delineate super-powered characters with an iconic immediacy that leapt from the page. Along with ten covers and splashes from various issues (mostly inked by Vince Colletta) there are six complete stories here, running from issue 111 to 135 – an impressive effort indeed, which shows how Kirby’s style evolved from the relatively protean work in the first outings to the far more exacting and widescreen pop art tour de force of later instalments. Issue 111 features Loki’s attempt to prevent the dying Jane Foster from receiving Odin’s remedy, with an extensive battle with Cobra and Mr. Hyde, two rather comedic turns in the Asgardian’s rogues gallery. Even by issues 117 and 118 the art has become more focused and kinetic, but by issue 134 (“The People Breeders”, one of the best Silver Age comics published), featuring the origin of the High Evolutionary and his creation the Man Beast, Kirby is already approaching his zenith as a storyteller – the art is composed, fluid, cinematic and a worthy match for the ambitious and by this point thoroughly cosmic conceptualizing within.
And then there’s the cover gallery, which practically screams “Silver Age” at you – the best on offer being issues 134, 140, 142 and 152, all of which, in this format, could be poster art, especially in black and white. The splashes and individual pages also chart the evolution of Kirby’s style, with the somewhat more restrained, if not slightly naïve art in the origin issues (83 – 85) through to the aforementioned classicism of his mid-period, which was more or less the peak of his career.
Either way, I can only envy the lucky people who own the original art to these top-draw reproductions, but at least we have the opportunity here to enjoy the unbridled creativity of Kirby’s pomp, in an outsize book that once again is the best way to enjoy Kirby’s outsize artwork. And there’s plenty here for the aficionado to get on with. A gold-plated must-buy.