While I was enjoying my vacation last week, Sean Kleefeld started up one of those memes everyone's always talking about, and while I'm pretty sure I saw someone specifically mention my name, I can't for the life of me find where it was.
Regardless, I'm not one to disappoint, especially considering that this one's all about picking your favorite Jack Kirby character design.
It's a tough one, though: For sheer economy and flat-out awesomeness, it's hard to top MODOK, who manages to be hideous, mildly terrifying, and amazingly goofy all at the same time, while still pretty much embodying the definition of a physically weak but mentally powerful mastermind in a hovering orange chair. Really, the Kirby designs that I like the best are usually the ones that shouldn't work at all.
Take, for example, everyone's favorite engine of destruction from the World That's Coming, OMAC:
That's a seven-foot tall man wearing a blue shirt with an eye on the chest and a golden metal collar with what appears to be a remote control strapped onto his belt, orange tights and bright yellow boots and gloves, and the whole thing's capped off by the kind of hairstyle that haunts Kid 'n' Play's dreams even today. There is nothing about that suit that should work, and yet I can't imagine another costume that would work quite as well.
But surprisingly, that's not my favorite.
For great Kirby designs--especially for someone who prefers his early-70s DC work--there's not a whole lot that beats the Fourth World. From Darksied on down, with the exception of a small handful of characters that includes the Forever People and Virmin Vundabar, those guys have amazing designs. Case in point:
With Orion, it is all about that helmet. The rest of his costume's reasonably generic--once you get past, y'know, the Motherbox and the Astro Harness and all that--but the helmet alone is an amazing streamlined sci-fi version of Thor's Helmet, with a crazy logo thrown in for good measure.
It's the sole element that makes his look really work, and without it--like when he was briefly in an outfit so generic that you'd expect him to be in a poorly animated commercial for a used car dealership--everything that's visually striking about the character falls to the wayside.
Even better? This guy:
Again, Mister Miracle's got one of those costumes that has no conceivable reason to look as good as it does. Try describing it to somebody who's never seen the character before: "Yeah, it's got wide, horizontal stripes down his body in red, yellow, and green, and he's wearing Dr. Doom's cape, but with a high collar instead of a hood. Oh, and he's also got a red and yellow Luchadore mask."
The whole thing sounds like it's the worst costume since Gambit's pink-and-blue body armor, but it all comes together to form an outfit that's almost perfect, whether it's Kirby drawing it, or a guy like the phenomenally talented Kevin Maguire.
Unlike, say, The Black Racer's original armor, which, while totally awesome suffers a bit by being pretty much every color except the one in the guy's name.
For me, though, this one tops them all:
I have no idea why I love Kanto's costume so much, but the idea of a guy rolling around dressed like a sixteenth-century fop who is also the single deadliest assassin in the known universe just thrills me to no end. What can I say? Dude looks good in a jerkin.
As for my least favorite, that one's a lot easier: Kirby's Sandman.
No, the other one.
No, the other one. This guy:
Apparently, being able to turn your body into a living sandstorm also makes you think it's a good idea to wear what can only be described as the worst Oscar the Grouch costume ever, leading to the first time in history that a rugby shirt and a pair of khakis were actually a better super-villain costume than what the guy started with.