Omnibus 1 collects the first thirty issues (or about a third, through 1964) of the Kirby-Lee run in all its manic glory. This is stunning superhero sci-fi comicbookery, with all the component atoms that would make the ingredients of the FF to come, Kirby's art and story, Lee's words and salesmanship. Here you are given the unstable molecule that was KIRBY, throwing spaghetti at the wall of reality and translating every symbol and cypher that showed, even the stuff that doesn't stick because he's got a job to do and like four other monthlies to plot and draw, damnit. Kirby wasn't born the King, but in Fantastic Four he created the Throne through blood and sweat and took it bodily from the gods of art and fiction who assumed it to be theirs and ascended to his blue collar high art mindbending emperorhood. It doesn't all work, but when Lee & Kirby strike out in these early issues - and boy, howdy, do they ever - they strike out swinging. What does work, where they hit the sweet spot of the bat, changes everything. Doom and Namor and Doom and The Watcher and Doom and Doom and DOOM. Mind you, it doesn't get really, really good until just after this volume when Joe Sinott comes in to ink Kirby and Stan & Jack refine their voodoo to crystal clear flawlessness, but that doesn't make the contents of this tome any less historically, artistically, culturally significant. If the Lee-Ditko Amazing Spider-Man of the same time represents a candidate for one of the Great American Novels of the graphic canon, this is the prequel to the next candidate, exhibit B in the archive of the Silver Age to pass down the eons.
Three new anthologies were released today, each with a little bit to offer. First up, Liberty Annual 2013, always an entertaining hodgepodge of short stories benefiting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Fabio Moon, Richard Corben, and Gabriel Hardman all have quality stories, but the best is the wonderfully over-the-top "What If Wertham Was Right" by Joshua Williamson and Ron Chan. Batman Black & White 2 has a Rafael Grampa story that is worth the price of admission alone. Finally, Witching Hour is the latest in Vertigo's line of twice-a-year genre anthologies. It's a lot less cohesive, and far more miss than hit, than the last anthology, Time Warp. Vaguely, though inconsistently, witch-themed, the best stories have nothing to do with witches. "Mars to Stay" by Brett Lewis and Cliff Chiang, about a one-way trip to Mars - funded by sponsors and crowdfunding - the mission spirals out of control in a wonderfully illustrated, packed 8-pager. The best story in Witching Hour is "Little Witch" by Ales Kot and Morgan Jeske. Completely devoid of genre trappings (despite leaping ahead in time), "Little Witch" tells the story of a soldier in Afghanistan who is forced to leave behind a small child he befriends, and the ways that decision haunts him. Surprisingly touching, this is a stunning short story and the best thing Kot has yet written.
Elsewhere, Trillium 3 and Lazarus 4 were both superb, and Fantomex Max 1 was an ugly mess that seemed like an excuse for pumping out Marvel's profanity quota.
Happy Wednesday, everyone.