Jack’s Back! — In Spirit, Anyway — In “Nightworld” #1

Posted: August 11, 2014 in comics
Tags: , , , , ,

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Damn, but this week’s been a good one for Jack Kirby fans, hasn’t it? Between Dynamite’s successful (at least so far) relaunch of Captain Victory And The Galactic Rangers — which I’ve already raved about — and the first issue of  the book we’re here to look at today, writer Adam McGovern and artist Paolo Leandri’s Kirby-esque new four-parter from Image Comics, Nightworld, hitting the stands, there’s not much more one could hope for barring the unearthing of some long-lost, previously-unpublished masterwork from the mind, heart, and hand of The King himself. In short, if any proof were required that the legacy of the greatest creator this medium has ever seen (and, frankly, will ever see) was alive and well,  this past Wednesday provided it.

So, yeah, I’m a happy guy. And you should be, too — because Nighworld #1 is all kinds of inexplicable, ridiculous, captivating fun. Sure, the cynics among you (what? I’m actually not among that grouping myself this time?) can simply say that Leandri is aping Jack’s style, but come on — I know the difference between heartfelt homage and a blatant rip-off when I see it, and so do you. Nightworld is definitely the former, while pretty much 99% of Marvel’s post-Kirby output is the latter. Go with the flow here and have a good time.

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And what a good time there is to be had! Meet lonely demon Plenilunio, a heartbroken undead creature who rules over a forlorn castle haunted by the spirit of his dearly departed (I think, at any rate) lover,  Lidia. Pleni’s plenty — desperate, sullen, and frankly probably bored. To that end, he makes the foolish decision to strike a bargain with the evil forces of something called the Empyre to wake his love, and soon finds himself in a race against time against hellborn teenager Hotspot and wicked demoness Hellena for possession of a mystic artifact of some unspecified import known as the Soul Key — but are his foes after it for Empyre, or for themselves?

A nifty little premise, to be sure, and one that bears a definite thematic resemblance (as does the art, in a purely secondary fashion) to some of what Mike Mignola’s done over the years with Hellboy, but shit — where’s the harm in a comic that seeks, first and foremost, to give us the kind of creepy fun that many of us love to indulge in? Nightworld may not be looking to re-invent the wheel by any stretch, but I like how they’re rolling it.

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I’m thinking that you probably will, too. Between McGovern’s lean, brisk scripting, Leandri’s heartfelt “retro” visuals, and colorist Dominic Regan’s crisp, lively palette, there’s a lot to enjoy on these pages. My only gripe? The $3.99 cover price is a bit steep, especially for a book that was funded via Kickstarter. I know Image has been sneaking up the price point on a lot of their titles lately ($3.50 is becoming the norm on most of their books rather than $2.99 and this, Low #1, and two recent (equally Kirby-inspired) one-shots from artist Shaky Kane — That’s Because You’re A Robot  and Cap’n Dinosaur — have taken things a step farther by going to a penny under four bucks) so it’s not like Nightworld is unique in this regard, but still — it’s kind of a bummer. Sure, Marvel is charging $3.99 for almost all their comics and DC has snuck a fair number of its titles up, as well, but I thought that Image was, as the saying goes, “holdin’ the line at $2.99.” I guess not anymore.

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Such economic considerations are beyond the purview of either McGovern or Leandri to control, though, I know, and as far as their work goes, I can find no fault in it whatsoever. I had a blast with Nightworld #1 and am all-in for the rest of the ride. Long live The King — even in the realm of the undead!

Comments
  1. Sleepy Reader says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more on this book! I lved it and this article will make me go back to reread it now.
    I’m not sure who decides the prices on image books, the paper and page count seems so different on each book…

    • trashfilmguru (Ryan C.) says:

      I believe it’s up to the creators, to a certain degree. The way Image works, they basically get paid entirely based on the book’s bottom-line profit, so creators have to decide if they want to go with the $2.99, $3.50, or $3.99 price points. Most seem to be opting for $3.50 these days as the increased price more than makes up for the slight sales decrease that inevitably follows. In the case of this particular book, though, I’m especially confused since about the $3.99 price because it was funded entirely in advance via kickstarter donations.

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