(Click the above image to enlarge, and freak out about how cool Kirby's Penguin is)
DC produced three miniseries based on the Super Powers TV show and toy line, one a year between ‘84 and ’86. The creative teams involved might have just been happy to get some relatively high-profile work at the time, but looking back from 2007, it’s pretty remarkable just who it is that DC had making these things.
The first two series heavily involved one Jack Kirby. The five-part 1984 series, which the above house ad advertises, featured covers and a plot by Kirby, with Joey Cavlieri scripting, Adrian Gonazles penciling and a handful of inkers finishing the art. The six-part 1985 series featured covers and interior pencils by Kirby, though this time around Paul Kupperberg apparently plotted, in addition to scripting.
Take a look at the covers:
The four-part 1986 series is Kirby-less (aside from involving characters he created), although the penciler wasn’t exactly a slouch. This series was drawn by Carmine freaking Infantino.
Here are his covers:
Now, I've never read a single issue of these stories. So they may be horribly written and illustrated; after all, comics giants involved with comics based on toys didn’t always do their best work (Check out Rachelle’s discovery of Ditko drawn Go-Bots comics). But based on that ad and those covers, I’m inclined to think Kirby at least did a hell of a job, even if it wasn’t the best work of his career.
It’s weird to see that patented Kirby energy applied to DC icons, isn't it>. Sure, we’ve all seen the Kirby Superman before, but the Kirby Batman? Aquaman? Robin? Wonder Woman? Flash? These are the first time I’ve seen any of them. And I love his Brainiac, Penguin and Joker in that house ad.
Collecting these series—even the Kirby-less third one, just for completeness’ sake—seems like a sales slam-dunk to me, for several reasons.
First and foremost, it’s Jack freaking Kirby. As recent shipping lists bear out, there’s as much interest in Kirby’s work right now as there’s ever been before. It’s not just DC’s new, complete Fourth World omnibus collection. It’s everything. The exact same week that Marvel put out a Devil Dinosaur collection, Image published a Silver Star one. It’s really only a matter of time before everything Kirby’s ever done gets trade-collected, and the iron seems to be particularly hot at the moment, DC, so go ahead, strike already!
A Super Powers collection need not be a big omnibus or absolute style thing. Hell, a nice cheap, black and white collection, even a slightly slimmer than the norm Showcase Presents collection (Including all three series, Super Powers only hits 330 pages...although to make it closer to 500, DC could always see about adding these into a Showcase Presents collection), would be welcome, and perhaps serve the art better anyway (I really liked seeing Kirby’s art in black and white in the previous Fourth World-related trades).
And while these stories might not count as official Fourth World or DCU continuity, it’s still Kirby himself doing Darkseid and New Gods characters, while at the same time drawing just about every single major DC character.
Secondly, these comics are based on a toy line from the early ‘80s. And really, that’s all you need to publish a comic book these days. While they haven’t all done gangbusters, we’re currently descending a wave of comics-based-on-toys-from-the-‘80s. Everything I played with as a little boy except Super Powers toys—G.I. Joe, Transformers, He-Man, Thundercats—have had comic books based on them in the last few years. Some were more successful than others, but there’s obviously a pretty huge market interested in this sort of thing, and certainly the Transformers movie and accompanying marketing tsunami demonstrates the size and passion of that market.
Thirdly and perhaps least compellingly are the characters involved. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Hawkman, J’onn J’onnz, Firestorm, Red Tornado—it’s basically the Justice League of America. What’s your very best-selling title by a wide margin at the moment, DC? That’s right. Justice League of America.
So come on DC, make my dream trade come true.