REVIEW : DARKSEID SPECIAL #1

As mentioned in my other reviews (on several occasions, broken record that I am) of DC‘s “King 100” specials for this site, these comics have been up-and-down affairs on the whole, but I have to give credit where it’s due — between The Black Racer And Shilo Norman Special #1 and the subject under our metaphorical microscope here, Darkseid Special #1, they at least closed them out on a high note. Yes, we had to endure a couple of clunkers along the way, but these last two both give you plenty for your $4.99.

Mark Evanier was a natural choice to write at least one of these books, given his background as Jack Kirby‘s assistant and, later, biographer, and I can’t think of anybody more qualified to re-introduce the comics-reading public to the original (as opposed the bastardized, “re-imagined” version wreaking havoc in the so-called “DCU” today) version of perhaps the most powerful and iconic symbol of pure evil in the history of the medium than him.  That being said, it would be a lie to say that Darkseid himself is actually the “star” of this book that bears his name.

No, that honor would have to go to a tough-as-nails and decidedly determined young lady named Makayla who, along with a couple of fellow escapees from the orphanage/proving ground run by the dread Granny Goodness, is out to bring the lord of Apokolips down, permanently and by any means necessary. For those who find the societal and economic structure of New Genesis’ dark twin of particular interest, there are plenty of rapid-fire yet entirely effective re-introductions on offer here in addition to the aforementioned Granny : the streets (and sewers) of Armagetto, the Female Furies, Parademons, the Omega Beams, Desaad, Slaughter Mountain — they’re all present and accounted for, not to mention as compelling as ever. Makayla and her cohorts are never going to succeed in their mission, of course, but whether or not they live to fight another day is a fairly open question and offers a bit of “hey, I actually don’t know exactly what’s going to happen here” suspense/intrigue that’s largely been missing from this month’s other Kirby tribute specials. Bonus points to Evanier for titling his story “The Resistance!,” in a move that’s sure to raise the hackles of the increasingly desperate and easily-butt-hurt (talk about “snowflakes”) pro-Trump crowd.

On the artistic side of the ledger, Scott Kolins isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off with his illustrations here, but it’s at the very least competent (if uninspired) work and the splash pages, in particular, offer a fair enough approximation of Kirby-level majesty and impact in a pinch. Dave McCaig‘s dark-ambient colors offer a nice finishing touch and on the whole these are pleasing, if far from gob-smacking, pages to look at. If you want great art, well — this ain’t it. But it’s plenty good, and sometimes (this being one of them), that’s good enough.

Considerably better, though, is the reunion of the fan-favorite team of  Phil Hester and Ande Parks in the too-damn-short OMAC back-up strip written by former DC head honcho Paul Levitz. The story’s no great shakes — OMAC finally wises up to the fact that Brother Eye is bad news and goes on the run from the Global Peace Agency — but it offers a nice little “twist” ending that old-school Kirby aficionados will appreciate, and the illustrations are straight out of the Steve Rude style school (to the extent that Rude himself is even given a hat-tip in the credits). Pitch-perfect coloring from the always-reliable Dave Stewart adds the finishing touch to this decidedly fun yarn.

As always, the back of the book is handed over to The King himself, and with another “Young Gods Of Supertown” (this one from Forever People #5) strip, and a very interesting story from Tales Of The Unexpected entitled “The All-Seeing Eye” that offers some none-too-subtle visual precursors to Brother Eye, you really can’t go wrong — so if you’re looking for a “total package,” I’m pleased to say that Darkseid Special #1 provides exactly that. Oh, and just for the record, Evanier confirms it in his backmatter essay : it’s pronounced “dark-side.”

Story : Mark Evanier and Paul Levitz  Art : Scott Kolins, Phil Hester, and Ande Parks

Story : 8  Art : 7  Overall : 7.5 Recommendation : Buy

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