Review: Hail To The King! (Artists Pay Tribute To Jack Kirby)

London comic store salutes the king of superheroes

Address: Orbital Comics, 8 Great Newport Street, London, WC2H 7JA
Entry: Free
Date: On until July 9

Jack Kirby is responsible for much of the contemporary face of comic-books. From his beginnings with Joe Simon and the creation of Captain America against the brewing backdrop of Hitler’s march on Europe, to his post-war explosion as part of a Silver Age trinity completed by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, and beyond into the elaborate, and intimidating cosmology of his New Gods. And yet he is often thought of as the silent partner in comic-book history, pushed from the limelight by the cigar chomping, egotistical Stan Lee.

If Hail To The King! proves anything, it’s that this is clearly not the case. Jack Kirby’s style is so iconic and powerful, so redolent of anything goes adventure and whooshing Silver Age futurism, that it’s instantly recognisable and half a century on, his simply cannot be bettered – leaving Kirby’s hand, or hands tracing over him, uniting all of these artworks in their reverence.

What the disparate collection of talents do bring to the Kirby canon is an extra dimension of energy and motion, thrusting his urgent, powerful lines right into the brain in an explosion of colour, DayGlo splashes and paint from an international array of underground artists. Work featured comes from Vlad Quigley, Anthony Ausgang, Feroze Alam, Finlay Cowan, Angela Edwards, Dennis Franklin, Espira, The Gothic Hangman, Skot Reynolds, Carl Stimpson, Mark Wigan, Suckadelic and Yes Future, and there are a number of original Kirby art pages plucked from Fantastic Four, Avengers and Forever People to complete a chain of flowering imaginations that stretches back to the Sixties.

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