“The universe is still a strange and dangerous beast!”

In the midst of an interstellar war, the Dreadnought Tiger is brutally attacked and their captain is killed. Before his death, though, their cloning fail-safes, themselves damaged in the attack, jettison two of his clones. A desperate search for their captain ensues across time and space in this updating of Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers by Joe Casey, Nathan Fox, Brad Simpson, and Simon Bowland with additional art by Jim Rugg, Ulises Farinas, Michael Fiffe, Jim Mahfood, Farel Dalrymple, Benjamin Marra, Connor Willumsen, Nick Dragotta, Dan McDaid, Tradd Moore, and Grant Morrison.

Jack Kirby‘s Captain Victory is considered by some to be a lost classic. It was published in the early ’80s by Pacific Comics and sadly never been fully reprinted (an Image Comics reprint was scheduled but never materialized). I haven’t read the full run myself either, only having the reprint edition of the first issue from TwoMorrows and a few non-consecutive issues I found in back issue bins. What I have read, though, was fun. It’s full on Kirby cosmic action, that to me really feels like a commercial toy animated series. You don’t need to know any of that to enjoy this new interpretation.

The series is interesting in how it plays out and is structured overall. It gets segmented over three main settings, Captain Victory’s ship, and then two different locations where his clones crash; late ’70s Earth and a kind of trash heap world. It then gets segmented even further through flashbacks and mind quests and other weird things that create a kind of mosaic through which the reader can piece together the larger picture of what’s going on. In a sense, it’s an approach similar to what Kirby was doing with his various Fourth World titles and it’s nice to see it in microcosm. I feel like Casey, Fox, and co. really excel at this kind of storytelling. As a fan of Godland, I also really enjoy when Casey goes cosmic.

Nathan Fox has a very unique style. It’s often kind of rough and scratchy, with exaggerated character designs and interesting technology. He’s not necessarily someone I’d think of to do sci-fi—since to me his style more fits gritty crime drama or the ’70s exploitation/martial arts film feel of the Earth segment—but whenever he does (both here and in The Weatherman) it’s really damn good. I think part of it is that his sense of action framing and pacing is phenomenal.

One of the things I find most fun about this series is how it incorporates guest artists. From the jam session of pages in the final chapter to the flashbacks and side missions in the preceding parts, it’s enjoyable to see a plethora of differing styles, many influenced by Kirby, contribute to the overall story.

Bringing cohesion to the different artists is Brad Simpson’s colours. There’s an overall colour palette that I’d consider Kirby primary colours by way of ’80s retro neon glow, and it’s fascinating. There are shifts in how it appears in the different time periods and locations, with more effects being applied to the crew of the Tiger and a greater emphasis on solid colours on the more distinct Kirby-inspired flashbacks illustrated by say Benjamin Marra.

Likewise, Simon Bowland’s lettering helps bring a consistency to the overall flow of the story, with some interesting designs for electronic voices, computer readouts, alien languages, and more. Bowland is a very versatile letterer and he shows some wonderful skill here.

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers from Casey, Fox, Simpson, Bowland, and a host of wonderful guest artists is a very fun, entertaining adventure that captures the spirit of Kirby in an exciting way. It updates one of his lesser known properties and also gives a nod to the Fourth World along the way.


Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers

Writer: Joe Casey
Artists: Nathan Fox with Jim Rugg, Ulises Farinas, Michael Fiffe, Jim Mahfood, Farel Dalrymple, Benjamin Marra, Connor Willumsen, Nick Dragotta, Dan McDaid, Tradd Moore, and Grant Morrison
Colourist: Brad Simpson
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: Dynamite
Release Date: July 20 2016

Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!