Wednesday, January 15, 2014

365 Days of KirbyTech, Day 15: The Beehive

Tonight (at last)! The Beehive! No, no, no, not the headquarters of this schlmielel...

Panel from The Champions #15 (September 1977), script by Bill Mantlo, pencils by John Byrne, inks by Mike Esposito, colors by Irene Vartanoff, letters by Bruce Patterson

...who is a Nazi made of bees, but rather the base of operations of the Enclave, who we've been talking about for the past few days. It's more technically known as the Citadel of Science, but I'm gonna just keep right on callin' it the Beehive, because that's a cool-as-ice apt name for such an awesome piece of KirbyTech (subset: KirbyTecture).

Panel from Fantastic Four (1961 series) #66 (September 1967), co-plot and script by Stan Lee, co-plot and pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Joe Sinnott, letters by Artie Simek

With that panel, I could just end this post right here and now, couldn't I?

But I shan't.

A criminal scientist cartel (hey, why aren't they more of these in the real world?) named the Enclave has built the Beehive, not from scratch, but rather from spare mechanical parts abandoned by the evolutionary dead-end creatures known as the Deviants. Which makes this even cooler, because Jack Kirby would not invent the Deviants until The Eternals #1, ten years later in 1976! Fun fact: the Deviants were created as a tasty snack food for the giant Celestials. IT'S CANON FANBOYS

Located on Shard Island in the Atlantic Ocean, the Enclave's Citadel of Science is not to be confused with the almost-as-awesome similarly-named High Evolutionary's Citadel of Science, which also has a better name we know it by: Wundagore. (I'm sure we'll be visiting there one of these days.) The Beehive is full of amazing technological marvels, not the least of which is the futuristic Electroni-Blade. I won't give the Electroni-Blade a full day's entry, as we only see it here (and it doesn't have the usual Kirby "look" to it), but check it out: it slices through tomatoes, tin cans, and this solid granite like butter! I believe what you've invented there, guys, is adamantium that requires batteries.

How impressive is the Beehive? So impressive, even their ceilings are highly technological!

The corridors of the Beehive are specifically tech-designed to make every movement through the seem incredibly dramatic! Even when it's just the mail guy coming through pushing his cart, it's dramatic!

The Beehive is home to the mysterious Lock 41, where they keep the mysterious "Cocoon," a videotape of a pretty good 1980s movie starring Wilford Brimley and Steve Guttenberg and directed by Rebel Alley's dad, Ron Howard. It is also presumably the home of the slightly less-mysterious Locks 1 through 40, where they keep their cheese. Evil cheese.

Lock 41 is also where they keep all their Kirby Krackle.

Yes, the Beehive is a pretty amazing place, full of technological wonder and mechanical achievement, until Adam Warlock blew it up.

Panels from Fantastic Four (1961 series) #67 (October 1967), co-plot and script by Stan Lee, co-plot and pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Joe Sinnott, letters by Artie Simek

Like Chumbawamba, however, the Enclave continues to persevere despite the dramatic and cataclysmic setbacks, and builds a new Beehive on a remote uncharted island. The Beehive II: now with dome for extra protection against leaks and drips!

Panels from The Incredible Hulk Annual #6 (November 1977), co-plot by Len Wein, co-plot and script by David Anthony Kraft, pencils by Herb Trimpe, inks by Frank Giacoia and Mike Esposito, colors by Janice Cohen, letters by Gaspar Saladino

Beehive II Electric Boogaloo is never shown in any external close-ups, although we do get a quick flashback glance at the original Beehive. Hey, quit sitting on it, guy who's going to be Adam Warlock some day!

And the interior of the second Beehive is, to be frank and honest, not as imaginative, impressive and...well, Kirbyesque as the first. I'm a big fan of Herb Trimpe's pencils, but his mechanical panels and technology look Marvel-generic rather than magnificently mind-blowing. Here's some of the Marvel-Lite tech of Beehive II, and I choose to blame the Enclave rather than Herb Trimpe. With their limited budget, they got all this stuff from the Tandy corporation, and it kinda shows, doesn't it?

Meanwhile, out shopping for souvenir snowglobes, the Incredible Hulk makes a startling discovery!

Of course, as we all remember from just a few panels ago, the Beehive is surrounded by a impenetrable dome. Which makes it kind of difficult for the Enclave to get out to run to Taco Bell at lunch hour. Luckily, the Hulk is kind enough to make an egress for them, in his usual way.

Which isn't a bad idea, until Beehive II blows up.

Years later, the Enclave is still in business. But have they come down in the world? Ehhh, somewhat.

Well, that's not a very pretty headquarters, is it? But never forget: beauty is in the eye of the bee-holder.


Uncle Matt said...

Another delightful entry in a delightful series! But I have to take issue with the very very firstest part of it -- Swarm is not a Nazi made of bees. He is a radioactive Nazi skeleton covered in killer bees, which is clearly the scariest thing that it is possible to imagine. Give the poor guy some credit!

Bully said...

You're right, Uncle Matt! And I should have clarified that too, because I just re-read Champions #15 and Byrne clearly shows he's a radioactive skeleton. My bad!

In honor for your service to technical correctness, here, have a Radioactive Bull-Prize covered in ladybugs!

Blam said...

A big part of the problem with that KirbyTech as Trimpe rendered it is that it has no dimensionality to its surface. Look at the console in the panel before the "BRAAAK": I get no clue that it's curved up and facing me, the reader, until I reach the wedge at bottom panel left, and even then the rest of it doesn't click. The next, wider panel you show, with Strange at the controls, has the same lack of orientation and bulk, to the extent that it's almost like an Escher deal. Other than the slats directly in front of him and up, we see no raised dials or switches, where by contrast Kirby's rendition is chock-full of depth suggested by doodads on top of doodads.

Bully said...

You're right, Blam, and I'd also give kudos to Kirby's oft-inker Joe Sinnott, who really made the depth and texture of Kirby's machines pop.