Kirb Your Enthusiasm (21)
By: Matthew Wells | Categories: Read-outs

Twenty-first in a series of posts, each one analyzing a single panel from a Jack Kirby-drawn comic book.

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Forget the captions and the word balloon; look at the panel art. It’s not a splash and it doesn’t have a New God or a monster in it — just an old guy tied to the mast of a raft on a bubbling sea. Look at the way the old man’s body is leaning forward against those ropes, like a runner straining at the starting line. He’s been tied up, not because he might escape, but because he might advance. Study the way the old man’s face and the raft seem to be chiseled from the same piece of petrified wood. You don’t have to read the rest of “The Glory Boat,” in New Gods #6 (December 1971), to know that, whatever this shell of a man has seen, it’s burned his eyes out. All he has left are two hollow cavities and a seared memory. Like a messenger from some disaster in The Book of Job, he’s saying: “I only am escaped alone to tell thee.” Like Odysseus after he’s heard the song of the Sirens, he will be haunted for the rest of his life by a memory. Like Ishmael, he will be picked up by that tiny ship on the horizon — The Rachel, perhaps? — who, in her search after her missing children, has only found another orphan, an orphan whose world has been invaded by gods and monsters. And in the end, he will be rescued. But he will never find deliverance.

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CHECK OUT “Cosmic Debris: Kirby in the ’70s,” a series running in tandem with “Kirb Your Enthusiasm” at the 4CP gallery of comic book details | Kirby cutaways and diagrams collected at the Comic Book Cartography gallery | Joe Alterio’s Cablegate Comix and HiLobrow posts about comics and cartoonists, and science fiction | The Jack Kirby Chronology | scans of rare 1940-50s Kirby comics at the Digital Comic Museum | Joshua Glenn on the New Gods generation

POSTS IN THIS SERIES: Douglas Rushkoff on THE ETERNALS | John Hilgart on BLACK MAGIC | Gary Panter on DEMON | Dan Nadel on OMAC | Deb Chachra on CAPTAIN AMERICA | Mark Frauenfelder on KAMANDI | Jason Grote on MACHINE MAN | Ben Greenman on SANDMAN | Annie Nocenti on THE X-MEN | Greg Rowland on THE FANTASTIC FOUR | Joshua Glenn on TALES TO ASTONISH | Lynn Peril on YOUNG LOVE | Jim Shepard on STRANGE TALES | David Smay on MISTER MIRACLE | Joe Alterio on BLACK PANTHER | Sean Howe on THOR | Mark Newgarden on JIMMY OLSEN | Dean Haspiel on DEVIL DINOSAUR | Matthew Specktor on THE AVENGERS | Terese Svoboda on TALES OF SUSPENSE | Matthew Wells on THE NEW GODS | Toni Schlesinger on REAL CLUE | Josh Kramer on THE FOREVER PEOPLE | Glen David Gold on JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY | Douglas Wolk on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY | MORE EXEGETICAL COMMENTARIES: Joshua Glenn on Kirby’s Radium Age Sci-Fi Influences | Chris Lanier on Kirby vs. Kubrick | Scott Edelman recalls when the FF walked among us | Adam McGovern is haunted by a panel from THE NEW GODS | Matt Seneca studies the sensuality of Kirby’s women | Danny Fingeroth figgers out The Thing |

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Matthew J. Wells is a playwright and poet based in New York. His plays have been performed at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco and the Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York, and his noir play Scarlet Woman was recently produced at the 2011 Frigid Festival. He can be found blogging online at A Likely Story, and reading 21 of his Manhattan Sonnets at the New River Dramatists Radio Show at ARTonAIR.org.