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Ten Moments that Mattered: A Century of Jack Kirby

Ten Moments that Mattered: A Century of Jack Kirby

By Meg Downey Thursday, December 28th, 2017

Has it been a year already? 2017 has reached its end, but before we dive into 2018, we’d like to take a moment and look back. For DC fans, 2017 was a remarkable year in comics, film and TV. Our characters reached new milestones and audiences, our writers and artists achieved remarkable new heights and our universe continued to grow in surprising new ways. And yet, within it all, several moments stood out for their importance and relevance. Some of them were groundbreaking, others were a welcome return. All of them are worthy of acknowledgement and celebration. In a year in which fans had much to talk about, these are the moments we’ll continue to talk about well beyond the new year. These are DCComics.com’s “Ten Moments that Mattered in 2017.”
 

You'd be hard pressed to find a name more important in the scope of comics history than Jack Kirby. Dating all the way back to the very start of the Golden Age in the 1930s, Kirby shaped the way we understand superheroes, creating iconic character after iconic character, populating page after page—from Darkseid to Etrigan the Demon—building whole societies, schools of magic, alien technology, rules for realities that were more imaginative than our most vivid dreams… You name it, Jack did it. They didn't call him "The King" for nothing.

2017 marked the hundred-year anniversary of Jack's birth on August 28th, 1917, a pretty huge occasion and one in need of some celebration. But how do you celebrate the life and work of a man who sparked a whole genre? You can throw a party on the day, sure, but a day isn't really enough. For someone like Kirby, you need to think about the legacy he left behind, and that's a lot bigger and way more expensive than any one day can contain. So, this became a year of celebrating Kirby and his contributions to the stories we love in ways both big and small.

For DC, things kicked off with the Rebirth of classic Kirby character from the ’70s, Kamandi, the last boy on Earth, in THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE. The “challenge” of the title was deceptively simple: each issue of the twelve-issue story would be told by a different creative team, round robin style. The goal was for each team to pick up from the issue before theirs and solve whatever cliffhanger Kamandi had been left in, while still telling a complete story. Acclaimed creators like Gail Simone, Tom King, Bill Willingham, Dan Jurgens and Kevin Eastman were brought together to work on different issues during the run, with DC co-publisher Dan DiDio stepping in with Keith Giffen to write a giant-sized prologue.

Next came a line up of special one-shot issues using Kirby characters—everything from names you might not recognize, like the Newsboy Legion, to stalwarts like Darkseid and OMAC got their moment in the spotlight. But one-shots just weren't enough, especially when it came to really taking the time to honor Kirby's opus: the pantheon of the New Gods. To do that, some experts had to be called in.

You probably know Tom King and Mitch Gerads from things like BATMAN and THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON, but this year, they added a new line to their bibliographies when they teamed up to bring us MISTER MIRACLE, a twelve-issue series focused on, well, Mister Miracle and his entire dysfunctional New Gods family. It's an original story, but one that follows so closely in Kirby's footsteps that you might actually be able to see the prints of his shoes if you look closely enough at each page. From Easter eggs to in-panel tributes, Mister Miracle is an ode to The King that's been a long time coming.

But the celebrating didn't stop at comics. Even the Justice League movie got in on some of the festivities by bringing not just characters but whole concepts to life on the big screen. Motherboxes? That's Kirby. Parademons? Kirby, too. Steppenwolf himself is another one of Jack's creations, and the first time a New God has ever been seen in live action.

A hundred years is a long, long time for someone's work to stick around, and even longer for someone's work to still be growing, changing and evolving, but Kirby's work helped form the beating heart of the DC Universe and write the DNA of the world they live in, so it's really no surprise that it's still just as relevant now as it was back in the Golden Age. So, sure, a hundred years is a long time, but here's to a hundred more.
 

Be sure to check DCComics.com again tomorrow for another Moment that Mattered in 2017.