Silver Star marked a significant hallmark in the career of Jack Kirby. Jack Kirby, called “The King of Comics” was also a King-maker, building up Marvel Comics, and later DC Comics, with iconic characters synonymous with their respective imprints, including: Captain America, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Darkseid, the New Gods, the Fourth World, Etrigan the Demon, OMAC, and so on . . . Most were for Marvel as his career with them was long and prolific. It became acrimonious toward the end of his tenure with them due to what he felt was exploitation by the company of his creations and his rights to them. In the mid 80’s he had distanced himself from mainstream comics doing freelance work here and there to pay the bills. When the indie company Pacific Comics, originally a comic shop turned direct-sales distributor, offered him a hands off venue to publish from, he became one of the first comic creators to own his own creations. From his time at Pacific he put out two stellar series: Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers and Silver Star.
Owing to the laissez-faire environment and freedom given him, Silver Star was pure, unadulterated Kirby. Kirby is a maestro of the superhuman story, and in this title he chose to deal with the Atomic Age, as he and collaborator Stan Lee did earlier in series like Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk. However, in this case he chose not to deal with people who were transformed BY the Atomic Age, but rather FOR the Atomic Age. Hulk and the Fantastic Four were accidents of science where exposure to radiation gave them superpowers. The main character, Morgan Miller, as well as his unknown compatriots, were transformed genetically at birth to withstand radiation and nuclear fallout. Its a very novel approach, and storywise it is a spectacular Cold War era story of impending doom not by super humans, but regular garden variety human beings playing God with the fundamental forces of nature. A new breed of man, Homo Geneticus as they come to be called, are needed if mankind is to survive the inevitable.
Morgan Miller is the son of Dr. Bradford Miller, the doctor who performed his invitro alterations on several children across the lines of both race and class, giving the new breed a diverse population. He also performed his work on Morgan, and the changes manifest in the height of the Vietnam Conflict. After this, Morgan is accoutered by the US Military in silver armor and modeled into a symbol of American ingenuity and superiority.
As one can imagine, with all those evolutionary leaps popping up around the country as a result of Dr. Millers work, a few rotten eggs will emerge from the clutch. And so arises the deadly and dangerous Darius Drumm. Drumm has found his way, along with Silver Star, into the new series Kirby Genesis, and truly it is astounding to get to know the man behind the myth. This original version done by Kirby is incredibly sinister and one of his best creations. Just my opinion, mind you. What also makes him interesting is that while he was created physically by what might be viewed as a perversion of science, he is created mentally and emotionally by a perversion of faith and politics, which Kirby foresaw to be an evolving calamity. Thirty years later we are seeing this first hand, as his fiction is becoming all too real. Perhaps that is why I am so intrigued by him as a villain, hoping that science and reason can smite down unchecked zealotry by the overly ambitious politician who panders to mass hysteria. Perchance to dream, right?
Morgan isn’t alone, either. Many of the other Homo Geneticus who have matured and manifested their genetic legacy have used their powers for good. One combats urban crime in the slums where no one seems to bat an eyelash at the violence and corruption breeding in the shadows, another uses his powers to entertain the masses in carnivals and bring happiness and joy to the world, and another is a stunt person in films. Each is an interesting snapshot of the human spirit, magnified by the advent of special abilities. One of these, Norma Richardson, also is a recurring character in the new Kirby Genesis: Silver Star series.
The series is only six issues, sadly, but those six issues burn bright and work towards the betterment of mankind and the forestalling of the nuclear holocaust that these beings were made to survive, not prevent. Yet most do work to prevent it, showing that despite evolving past mankind, empathy and compassion aren’t lost in the process. They haven’t lost touch with the species they were bred from, or stopped caring about the safety and welfare of the seemingly outmoded mankind. Thankfully, these six stunning issues are now collected in one volume, allowing new audiences to read them and fully enjoy one of Jack Kirby’s most innovative works.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.
Silver Star #1: Drawn by Jack Kirby, Colored by Janice Cohen, Inked by Mike Royer
Silver Star #4: Drawn by Jack Kirby, Colored by Janice Cohen, Inked by Mike Royer
Silver Star #5: Drawn by Jack Kirby, Colored by Tom Luth, Inked by D. Bruce Berry
Silver Star #6: Drawn by Jack Kirby, Colored by Tom Luth, Inked by D. Bruce Berry