Marvel Comic’s release of a new miniseries created by Jack Kirby, the late “King of Comics,” should be enough to throw the salivary glands of all of fandom into overdrive. That is, until they actually get their sweaty, little hands on “Galactic Bounty Hunters.”
The six-part miniseries, based on notes and characters created by “The King” in the 1980s, makes for good eye-candy for fans of the Kirby style. Aside from some old-fashioned camp, the storyline is about as lackluster and contrived as an episode of “Full House.”
The books were written by Kirby’s daughter, Lisa, who teamed up with artist Michael Thibodeaux, writer Steve Robertson and editor Richard French to flesh-out Kirby’s notes.
Prior to this project, Lisa had never written a comic book, and her inexperience shows on every page. To put it succinctly: I knew Jack Kirby. I read Jack Kirby. Jack Kirby was a hero of mine. You, ma’am, are no Jack Kirby.
“GBH” follows the story of Garrett, a brash, teenage boy who gives his father, Jack Berkley (creator of the beloved “Galactic Bounty Hunters” comics in this world) no respect. Garrett believes his dad is nothing more than a dreamer, who chooses to spend his life in a fantasy world rather than seeking real adventure.
Little does he know, the stories are all true accounts of Berkley’s exploits as one of the universe’s greatest peacekeepers.
And, oh yeah . Garrett also dreams of being the world’s greatest magician. That plot device doesn’t seem forced at all, right?
Along the way, Garrett is kidnapped by an evil space monster (who comes across as a bastardization of Savage Dragon and Lobo), Berkley is forced out of retirement and “the old band gets back together.”
What follows is a syrupy-sweet, thinly veiled morality tale that teaches kids to respect their parents because of the sacrifices they make to raise them in a safe and loving environment.
If one can get past the awkward dialogue and done-to-death plotline, the books have some nostalgic value.
The art is truly reminiscent of Kirby’s style. It definitely stands apart from the highly stylized, over-produced comics currently on the market. However, there are many circumstances where the out-of-date character design clashes with writing that desperately tries to be current and edgy.
The best writing in the series comes via the transitions between chapters. Narrations like, “The fabled 11th Squad is now ready to plunge the sword of righteousness deep into the torso of evil itself.” are the stuff that make for kitschy, nerdy wet dreams.
Unfortunately, that kind of gourmet cheese is often outweighed by bad puns and even worse puns.
I guess the ultimate question is: Would I buy these books if they had not been sent to me to review? Unfortunately, the answer is “yes,” but only because I am a massive nerd who likes to waste my money on campy junk.
Don’t be like me, kids.