Keith Giffen and Dan DiDio struck gold when they re-imagined “O.M.A.C.” at the start of ‘The New 52’ relaunch. In just a few months, it proved to be a metaphorical gold, worth more to critics and a specific group of comic enthusiasts that lent it a cult status rather than anything in the way of financial success. Does “Infinity Man and the Forever People” achieve the same sort of stylistic and entertainment value that “O.M.A.C.” did? And what might the future hold for the title? Read our review below for that and more.
Written by Keith Giffen & Dan DiDio
Illustrated by Keith Giffen
Inked by Scott Koblish
Colors by Hi-Fi
Lettered by Travis Lanham
Four of the best students from New Genesis arrive on Earth to study and aid in the advancement of humanity – but they soon discover a darker purpose to their mission: a threat so great that it may bring the multiverse itself to its knees! The only thing that stands between them and total destruction is the mysterious entity known as the Infinity Man!
In short order, the duo of Keith Giffen and Dan DiDio became known for fun, breezy Kirby revivalism. What should have been a sacred cow was ultimately embraced by a lot of the same people who would otherwise criticize DC Comics in the wake of their linewide relaunch. Makes sense, considering that books like “O.M.A.C.” show a real desire for lightheartedness and wacky concepts on a comic rack otherwise becoming flooded with Batman titles and books that have turned the popular market into a grim tide. Though Kirby could never be duplicated or replaced, these Giffen & DiDio titles have the right spirit to them and are clearly a more reverent approach than they are an attempt to cash in on anything. It’s a shame they aren’t more successful, because DC Comics needs more of these.
But does the formula for “O.M.A.C.” work again on “Infinity Man and the Forever People”? Notwithstanding what we already know about the creative teams on future issues of the series, the answer is mostly “yes.”
As you do, the issue opens on space stuff and loads of Kirby dots. There’s no mistaking it: we’re in New Genesis, and there’s really no one better to depict it than Giffen and his inker Scott Koblish. DiDio and Giffen write a mission statement for New Genesis through a throwback sort of sci-fi narration – pure comics – followed by a fairly organic introduction to the principal characters and all of their personalities. The writers waste no time in uprooting the lives of these “new gods” and throwing them headlong at Earth, where they’ll be continuing their universal mission of prosperity and advancement on a world that’s new to them. Getting them together and into the status quo that the book requires for them doesn’t involve much more than some plot convenience and a scuffle or two, but looking back on history, a lot of comics began like this. Giffen and DiDio were clearly more worried about getting the pieces where they needed to be than spending much time building to anything, and it all works out pretty cleanly.
If there’s any downside, it’s that even with an accelerated introduction, the issue still ends on the same beat as any average first issue does, plotwise. The heroes coming face-to-face with their first obstacle, and not having yet discovered (or at least displayed) their unique abilities yet. The promise is set before the reader, and wonderfully stylishly, but it’s still all promise and no individual payoff — unlike “O.M.A.C.” #1, which provided both a long con and some semblance of self-contained satisfaction.
But there’s no hiding where lies the appeal of “Infinity Man and the Forever People” #1. Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish once again do a visual Kirby homage that is tone-perfect even as it is intentionally not an exact duplication. These artists exaggerate Kirby’s style to get their point across, which actually ends up as the perfect approach for a world that will never see another Jack Kirby again. It should be noted that the efforts of Koblish as the inker should not be sold short, as his work on the flashback issues of the Duggan & Posehn “Deadpool” run prove that he has plenty of throwback style in his own repertoire, as well as the ability to specifically evoke Kirby just as well as Giffen can. There’s no doubt that Koblish’s talents play a major role, as well.Continued below
Pulling off things like Kirby dots are easy – the man may have invented them, but hundreds of comics have used them as a nod to the king. The way that Giffen and Koblish utilize Kirby’s unique world-building design sense is the ultimate key. In a fictional universe that has to re-invent and re-design everything just about every 5 years (at least), Giffen does not do much to the character designs and flourishes of the Kirby corner of DC Comics. Jack Kirby comics, after all, are timeless fiction. Whether the style is “current” or not ultimately doesn’t matter, because everything is so specifically wacky and scienc-y that it looks both silly or serious in any given age of comics. The mistake that artists make is constantly adding or subtracting the things that made comics vessels of creative imagination in the first place, regardless of how practical, realistic, or sleek they weren’t.
We’ve seen Mother Boxes and Boom Tubes since the very start of ‘The New 52′. For all of DC Comics’ dark, modern, or brooding leanings, there’s a definite side of the relaunched line that embraced the Kirby books from the very start. Why, Jim Lee and Geoff Johns applied them to their very first arc of “Justice League” and Azzarello and Chiang’s “Wonder Woman” has been chock full of New Gods. Nobody renders all of this stuff quite the way Giffen and Koblish do, though, with the bright multi-colored palette of Hi-Fi and the varied lettering approach of Lanham in tow to tie it all together.
It’s unclear what the future holds, creatively, for “Infinity Man and the Forever People.” The art is shifting, which is never seen as a positive thing in the headlines, even if the art that takes over is perfectly competent. This concept, as all under-utilized throwback concepts seem to be, is going to be a tough enough sell without a consistent artistic vision or modern big names attached. At the end of the day, most fans are picking this up to see Giffen and Koblish do Kirby. If you want to support that, definitely grab this issue, despite the fact that it’s a little light on activity. It’s too early to tell what we can even expect from future issues, and that’s hard to put your good faith into.
Final Verdict: 7.0 – Buy