Friday, November 16, 2007

Re-Cap: Death is the Black Star!

Whenever I look at a Jack Kirby comic I try to imagine just how enthusiastic Jack was about the book he was drawing when he was actually drawing it. Anybody even remotely familiar with Jack’s work knows he was such a consummate professional that it was darn near impossible for him to not give each book his all. There are some books that I like more than others but I’m reasonably sure he tried to tackle each assignment he was given with the energy. Still there are some efforts that just more energized than others.

Take for example Captain America King Size Annual #3 (1976) – aptly titled “Doom is the Black Star!” This came out early in Jack’s run on his return to Captain America. I want to say in fact that it hit the stands shortly after the “Madbomb” story arc wrapped up. I’ve read this particular annual a number of times and considering it featured no other established Marvel characters other than Captain America, that didn’t stop it from being a great self-contained rip-roaring yarn that pits Cap against an evil alien from space.

But one of the things I enjoyed most about Doom is the Black Star is that it exists within Jack’s own little world. Forget the Marvel Universe! Jack’s is a world that wastes no time with rhyme or reason. For instance Cap just happens to be a guest on a local talk-show about UFO’s and that gets him introduced to a guy who jus happens to have aliens skunking about his farm. This is all played out in a few word balloons and after that it’s typical action, action, action sown in Jack’s own imitable style.

Favorite pages for me include 26 -- where Cap turns laser gun back on an alien and blows its head off. And of course a spine tingling splash on page 36 that shows the alien villain morphing into someone’s worse nightmare.

It’s a hokey story but a fun one and I can almost hear Jack giggling to himself as he drew the thing.
And true to form, Jack wraps up the story in a few panels -- a sudden explosion on page 46 and *POOF* it’s over. The US government denies everything and we’re left pondering earth’s fate.

Doom is the Black Hole had great art, workman-like inking courtesy of Frank Giacoia and nice lettering thanks to Gasper Salidino.

Like I said, this was done early in Jack’s run on Captain America -- probably before Jack started o get pelted with hate letters demanding that Captain America be placed firmly in the Marvel Universe. Certainly this annual is better than the one that followed 12 months later entitled “The Great Mutant Massacre” I’m thinking Jack saw the writing on the wall and was fast approaching his mutual agreement to be removed from writer/artist chores on Captain America.

But for a while there – the pages of CA was a fun place to be. And that first Captain America annual provided a terrific read.