Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pow! Zongo! Kraash! Iirraa! Krakk! Zapp! Whum!

The source of today's Fourth World panel, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #146, is a veritable treasure trove of riches, providing several possibilities. But me being the heterosexual male that I am, I went for one of the rare examples of Kirby cheesecake:



I mean, come on, who wouldn't want to turn Terry Dean upside down, amirite? But as enjoyable as that is, that's not even the focus of the issue. Instead, we spend most of the time in Apokolips's Evil Factory, which gives us scenes like this:



I don't even know what all that stuff is in the tubes, except background (er, foreground) detail of the kind of experiments that go on here. It's crazy and cool though, even if it doesn't matter to the story, and it adds an air of alien weirdness and wrongness to the setting. So it's good that everything gets smashed to hell by Jimmy Olsen, who has been transformed into a caveman. Sure, Jimmy getting turned into some weird creature was an old standby of the title, but nobody could do that like Kirby. His version of "caveman Jimmy" is a ferocious, super-stong, near-mindless beast, prone to totally wrecking shit. And wreck shit he does, eventually destroying the entire Evil Factory:



That's pretty awesome, but I couldn't resist including this page, in which he rides a pack of giant, prehistoric monsters through the halls of the complex:


I don't want to abuse the word, but yes, that is also quite awesome.

I do like to try to search for deeper themes in these stories, but there's not much of that here, from what I can see; it's just mayhem, action, and wreckage. Not that I'm complaining. I did like a scene between mad scientists Mokkari and Simyan in which they bicker about taking care of caveman Jimmy, with the former comparing his neanderthal looks to the latter's, and the latter retaliating by letting Jimmy beat up the former. That was a nice bit of character work in the midst of an action scene. And then there's the two-page "Tales of the DNA Project" backup story, in which we see a scientist tearfully part with his genetically-engineered creation, a "man" who can exist in the vacuum of space in order to transport a capsule contining Superman's DNA. It gives Kirby an opportunity to do the cosmic spacescape that he does so well, and use the kind of Silver Surfer pose that he used to do at Marvel:


Very nice stuff; I love the outstretched arm that shows the readiness to explore and the joy of finally being somewhere he belongs. That's Kirby: moments of beauty in the midst of events that are almost beyond comprehension.

Bonus! Kirby gives a pre-emptive (by thirty years or so) shout out to a fan and comics blogger:



Next (for real this time): "The Pact!" Yes!