Image have taken the bold step of bringing some of Jack Kirby’s final comics work back into print. In a few months they’ll be releasing the hard cover edition of Captain Victory and his Galactic Rangers, the first time that material has ever been collected. Already available is Silver Star, a collection of the six issue “visual novel” that brought Kirby’s creator-owned phase to a close. It’s also, to my mind, something of a masterpiece.

Silver Star is Morgan Miller a young soldier who’s also one of the New Breed, genetically altered humans with special powers that set them apart from the rest of humanity. Indeed, regular humans fear them as monsters — and when it comes to the truly evil Darius Drumm, first of the New Breed, they have good reason to fear. Drumm wishes nothing less than the complete destruction of all life on the planet, and it becomes Silver Star’s mission to stop him.

Okay, this was produced in 1983, late in Kirby’s career, and consequently one has to make allowances for deficiencies in the art. Concurrently, Kirby was working in animation and his art had loosened up considerably from what it had been when he was drawing comics on a monthly basis. He also had health problems which further affected his finesse with a pencil. What appears here though is still damn powerful stuff — even on half power Kirby was still ahead of the pack.

Story wise, Silver Star is an extension of the themes of alienation that Kirby began with Silver Surfer in the 60s, and continued with Machine Man in the 70s. This is similar to how Kirby approached Thor, New Gods and Captain Victory: the themes are the key. Kirby, at this point in his career, was mainly tackling themes rather than traditional plot and character. All his characters speak with a single voice: it was what they said, what they represented, that was important to Kirby, not how they said it. Kirby liked asking questions (“How would a human computer be treated in the world?” “How would people react to genetic supermen in their midst?” “If an evil guy had ultimate power, what might he do?”), and his late comics are his answers.

Silver Star was originally conceived as a movie project, and the book moves at a cracking pace, building to an exciting climax. Kirby’s screen treatment is included in this book, along with some early design work. The final few chapters have also been re-coloured to better match the earlier material.