[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Dan Jurgens & Steve Orlando
Artists: Jon Bogdanove, Rick Leonardi & Dan Green
Colors: Madpencil & Steve Buccellato
It would’ve been very easy for creators to do an ordinary one-off story about one of Jack Kirby’s original characters that he created for DC, there are many. However, The Sandman Special #1 takes particular care to not only evoke Kirby’s storytelling style and visual look, it actually honors the legendary creator within the story itself. It makes you feel kind of all warm inside. If you aren’t familiar with Kirby’s work it may not generate the same emotion, but for a fan of The King, it hits all the right buttons.
Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s creation from the ’70’s is back! The master of dreams, the Sandman once again battles nightmares alongside his foe/friends – bad dreams Brute and Glob!
The Sandman has detected a particularly vivid nightmare that is about to manifest in reality. A little boy, far away is tormented and the Sandman has to rush into action and release Brute and Glob to help him! He leaves the two to fight the nightmares in dreamland and returns to the boys home in reality where he is assisted by a silent assistant. Sharp-eyed readers will recognize aspects of this character from other Kirby creations- Orion, Thor, Captain America, Silver Star and the Inhumans!
As the two eliminate the nightmares, the Sandman realizes that this assistant is also a figment of the boy’s imagination – an imagination so fertile that it conjured up a hero to help the Sandman! So, who is this boy? It’s none other than Jacob Kurtzberg! That’s Jack Kirby for those not in the know!
The second story features the Sandman in an attempt to help a grandson and grandfather reconcile after years of distance.
Finally, the Kirby reprints are two DNAliens stories from the ’70’s.
While Bogdanove and Leonardi both evoke a look reminiscent of Kirby’s work, Bogdanove goes above and beyond in his layouts, figures and use of pictures added in to backgrounds! I can’t say enough about the visual look of the book and its importance. Kirby had a unique style and the way these guys emulate it goes a long way in drawing the reader in a special way.
Incorporating Jack into the story itself is not only unique, but it bears witness to Kirby’s unparalleled imagination and creativity. Since that is what we are recognizing on the 100th anniversary of his birth, celebrating him in this way goes above the average commemorative issue. There are a handful of innovators and visionaries, and Jack Kirby is one of the foremost.
Lastly, Jurgens and Orlando manage to mimic Kirby’s writing style just as effectively as the artists have re-created Kirby’s visual style. Well done, gentlemen!
The only negative with this issue is the choice of original Kirby reprints. I believe instead of reprinting a couple obtuse backups they should’ve gone with a Golden Age Sandman tale or perhaps one of the original stories of this Sandman from the 1970’s.
This issue celebrates Jack Kirby in multiple ways and is a true joy to read! If you’re not a fan of The King, perhaps this will get you interested in learning more about his work! If you are, well, sit back and enjoy a book that honors, celebrates and pays homage to one of the greatest comic book creators of all time!