“Kirby: Genesis” is a hard book to look at objectively because the mere mention of Kirby’s name in the title makes every instant thought a subjective matter. Then add on the fact this is a mash up story based on leftover Jack Kirby designs and you feel like you already know what you’re going to get before you enter the book. The sad part is, you wouldn’t be far off. This book does its best to posit a contemporary set of characters for us the see this world through, especially the nerdy lead named Kirby Freeman, and then slowly introduces these off-shoot characters into the one overall scenario. It doesn’t fail so much because of an abundance of bad but rather because of a lack of good.
Kirby Freeman is the sort of smart and reticent person many assume comic readers to be. He’s also inexplicably paired with a gorgeous and popular best friend, Bobbi, who is completely happy to platonically hang out with him. It’s a standard set up and Kirby’s mention of things turning Michael Bay doesn’t fool you into not seeing this as the ultimate Bay vehicle. There’s plenty of character shorthand but no true character depth. It’s a geek fantasy writ large.
The Kirby concepts enter the story by inexplicably entering Earth’s atmosphere. What exactly brought them and what their motivations are will wait for later, but we know it all has to do with the space probe, from the #0 issue, which was adorned with a Jack Kirby sketch on the front. These characters arrive but they don’t yet do anything. Hopefully this isn’t a constant for the series, as a book about the Kirby concepts should really explore them before it delivers us some paper thin average comic reader stand-in.
The art from Jack Herbert delivers a standard tale. He makes sure each segment introducing Kirby’s concepts makes a splash, and the framing narrative of young Kirby and his much more attractive friend is easily told. Though, it’s hard to figure out why he draws Kirby as if his mouth can never contain his teeth. The big issue comes in the colors of Vinicius Andrade. I doubt Jack Kirby would want anyone coloring his creations in such garish and metallic hues. Whenever a Kirby concept appears, the page vibrates with the reflective sheen of an Alex Ross painting. It’s not something that feels correct and if you don’t like it then you’ll grow to hate it quickly.
No one should think this comic is out to dishonor the spirit and creative genius of Jack Kirby. Clearly, it’s attempting quite the opposite, though still failing on far too many fronts. The Kirby concepts, themselves, haven’t truly been introduced and the man-on-the-street duo are straight out of today’s teen action movies. Not a lot happens. This issue sets up two people we don’t want to know about yet and teases the rest for later. It would have been better served picking one Kirby creation and fleshing them out completely. There’s room for this series to pick up, but right now all indicators show it will certainly be a gamble. A debut issue shouldn’t only tease interest for tomorrow, it should absolutely draw the reader in today. This book fails to brighten even the loneliest day