Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Jack Kirby's Spirit World (1970-71; collected 2012)

Spirit World: written by Jack Kirby, Mark Evanier, and Steve Sherman; illustrated by Jack Kirby, Mike Royer, and Neal Adams (1970-71; collected 2012): An oddity caused in part by DC's inability to commit to new projects in the 1970's, Spirit World was supposed to be part of DC's foray into the world of black-and-white comics magazines. And it sort of was.

But DC hedged its bets by creating a whole other shell company to have its name on the covers, constantly downgraded what the book would contain, and ultimately dumped it on the market in such a way that the first issue may have never reached most newsstands.

Jack Kirby and friends put together this magazine, along with In the Days of the Mob, which had a similarly truncated existence. Kirby's Boswell, Mark Evanier, lays out the odd circumstances surrounding the creation of Spirit World. DC comes across as even more bumbling than usual for the time period.

The stories here are a lot of fun, both from the first issue and the never-published second issue. Along with a fumetti and a prose piece, we get some horror pieces that lean on parapsychology rather than the overt supernatural. One of the ghosts is a cousin to the composite ghost-monster of Robert Bloch's classic story "The Hungry House," and Kirby's visualization of such a thing is one of the kicks of the volume. Recommended.

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