Friday, March 7, 2008

Sonny Sumo is a noble warrior!

I don't think I'll be able to keep up a daily schedule at this time, but here's another astounding Fourth World panel, from Forever People #5:

I was going to go with a different one, since I included something similar in the last post, but this was truly my favorite panel in the issue, in which Kirby shows Desaad absorbing the fear and pain of his Happyland captives. The way the faces are recognizably human, but distorted in agony and melted together is like something out of Dante. Wow. But while I'm at it, here's another panel I liked:

I love their slogans, like they've been at a pep rally beforehand.

Also notable this issue: the introduction of Sonny Sumo, a wrestler who fights a giant robot named Sagutai, another super-cool Kirbytech creation, in an audition for a fight promoter. Sonny is a pretty cool character, and Kirby does a great job of throwing him into the story and making him fit, even though he's a human dealing with gods. I also love the introductory caption:
"Sonny Sumo is the mystic type of a vanishing breed--the noble warrior! In medieval Japan, he'd have been an honored samurai! In ancient Rome, a gladiatorial Spartacus! At the mercy of today's world, when nobility is a twisted credo and the warrior is a commercial enterprise, Sonny Sumo struggles to hold fast to an enigma which seems to make his life meaningful!!"
The part that gets me is the bit about the modern world. I think part of what Kirby was doing with the Fourth World saga was working out some feelings about the state of the world in the late 60s and early 70s. It was the Vietnam era, and there had to have been a fresh mistrust of the government, the military, and those in positions of power (I hope I don't misinterpret anything about the times, but it was a good decade before I was even born). In the comics, this is expanded to a cosmic level, in which literal gods are fighting battles and using helpless humans as pawns. And that bit about twisted nobility and commercial warriors seems to reflect a mistrust of anybody whom we might look up to, and a longing for a pure hero. Hey, that's what superhero comics are all about, right? And nobody did them better than Kirby.

Finally, I want to share a great bit of hyperbole in the issue-ending caption/teaser:
"What happens next will astound you! By George, it astounded even me! And I, Jack Kirby, am much closer to this saga than you are, reader! There's been nothing in comics that's equalled its like!! I've seen it--and I'm still shaking! Now you see it! Here it comes!--In the next issue!! THE OMEGA EFFECT!"
I love it. I'm resisting the urge to flip forward to that issue and read it right away. Kirby! He's awesome!

In personal news, I'm pretty busy with baby stuff (thanks for all the well-wishes, by the way; seeing that from so many people that I've never even met in person really meant a lot), so blogging will probably be pretty sporadic. But I'll probably get back to something of a regular schedule once life resumes its semi-normal flow. I know I have to write something about the first volume of Phoenix, which I just finished reading today. I burned through the second half of that book in no time; it was a "can't-put-down-er". So watch for that. Soon!

Oh yeah: thanks to Martin Kretschmer for the new, baby-themed blog logo! It's pink, so it matches both my daughter's sex and my manga-reading tendencies!