Written by: Jack Kirby
Art by: Jack Kirby
Based on: 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke, Stanley Kubrick
Marvel Comics, 180 Pages
This comic book series took me a really long time to track down. There are ten issues and they’ve never been reprinted and probably never will be due to the fact that Marvel hasn’t owned the comic book publishing rights to 2001: A Space Odyssey since… well, 1977 when this series ended.
But who the hell wouldn’t want to read Jack Kirby’s version of what happened after the movie finished? And this is all Jack Kirby. He wrote it, he did the art and he had a love of the Stanley Kubrick film that was truly a masterpiece.
This comic follows up the adaptation Kirby did of the film earlier in 1976. This series sees Kirby take the concepts and ideas from the movie and apply them into new stories. This really is an anthology series in the beginning but larger, multi-part story arcs come out after the first four issues.
Now those first four issues are different versions of the same story. Each follows an ancient character that comes into contact with the Monolith. Then they flash forward to one of their descendants in the future, usually an astronaut, and show what happens when they also come into contact with the ominous Monolith. Many characters evolve into a different version of the Star Child or as Kirby refers to them, “Seeds”.
The fifth and sixth issues deal with a larger arc and starts as a bit of a superhero story featuring a heroic character named White Zero and a villain named Death Master. There are twists to the plot but this is where Kirby really finds his footing and starts turning 2001 into something closer to his work for DC Comics on The New Gods, The Forever People and Mister Miracle; collectively known as his Fourth World saga.
The seventh issue is really interesting as it follows the journey of a Seed through the cosmos, space and time. It’s bizarre, it’s cool and it’s 100 percent Jack “The King” Kirby.
In the final three issues, we get a big surprise. Well, it was at least a big surprise for me, as this three-part arc is the origin story of the character that would go on to become Machine Man in the regular Marvel Universe. Which, I guess makes Jack Kirby’s 2001: A Space Odyssey part of Marvel canon, even though I didn’t see it that way for the first seven issues.
This was a solid series by Jack Kirby. It’s not quite a masterpiece, as it is a bit bogged down by the first four issues and their repetitiveness but once it found its footing, it was some of the best work that Jack Kirby has done.
And I can’t end this review without mentioning how dynamic and beautiful the art was. You could tell that Jack Kirby put a lot of passion into this and I’m glad, as a Kirby fan, that I now own the complete saga.
Now I just have to track down a copy of his film adaptation.
Pairs well with: other Jack Kirby works that dealt with the cosmos.