"Right, the war. We've been at war with Apokolips since forever and then some. It's had its ups and downs, frankly. (...) Although, I have to admit it... that time also introduced those strange, glowing black dots upon which our society is built. Would you want to live upon a dotless New Genesis? Right, I didn't think you did..."Kirby Dots are a method of showing a crackle of energy such as a lightning bolt or a Battle Aura. They've been widely used in US superhero comics ever since they were first developed by influential artist Jack Kirby in the 1960s. Sometimes referred to as 'Kirby Crackle'. The technique consists of drawing a series of overlapping dots along the edge of the energy effect in question, forming a fractal-like edge. It is used primarily in print comics, but is sometimes replicated in animation by particularly slavish adaptations. There now exists a CGI tool for automatically creating Kirby Dots, and even animating them. Interestingly, an analogous technique called 'particle emission' is used in Video Game graphics for rendering fire, smoke, clouds and, not surprisingly, energy fields. This is, however, mostly because of technical limitations — it's just really hard and computationally intensive to create a polygonal object that changes shape the way fire does. Particle emissions are merely the next best thing. Not to be confused with a dot named Kirby or the Nerdrock Band Kirby Krackle.
— Highfather, Mightygodking's Remix Comic of Death Of The New Gods issue #1.
open/close all folders
- In Marvel Comics, Galactus' Power Cosmic is represented with Kirby Crackle, having been first created by Kirby himself. In Silver Surfer (Vol. 8) #14, it's revealed the time-travelling Silver Surfer arbitrarily chose the Power Cosmic's signature to be red with black dots in the memory of his late wife Dawn Greenwood, whose clothing of choice was red with black dots.
- Special mention goes to Kirby's renditions of God.
- Jack Kirby himself in the cover of Comic Book Comics #4 is holding drawing tools glowing with his signature crackle.
- X-Men: Sunspot becomes solid black and is surrounded by Kirby Crackle when he powers up. (Originally. Lately, it's dark blue and mostly dotless.) X-Men: Evolution, despite not being a particularly slavish adaptation, especially visually, rendered the dot effect perfectly, much better than you'd think it'd work onscreen. According to the Official Handbook, the dots are his powers affecting the dust around him and turning them black. But yeah, the dots are basically there to offset his otherwise monochromatic and boring design.
- Infinite Crisis: Alexander Luthor Jr.'s powers tend to rely heavily on this. What they actually are is not elaborated on further than "dimensional abilities."
- Galacta (daughter of Galactus) reveals offhandedly on her Twitter account that mere humans cannot perceive the Power Cosmic where it affects reality, and blanks it out in our minds. She further lampshades that some people call the visual result "Kirby Dots".
- The Spider-Man-Human Torch miniseries hung a lampshade on it. In the second issue, Spider-Man and the Torch trade "beats" to see who has it toughest, and Spidey accompanies the rest of the F4 on a trip to another dimension.
Spider-Man: AAAAH! Did you see that? The whole world went trippy! And those lights! And what's with the big black dots everywhere?
- Immortal Iron Fist: Iron Fist's trademark attack involves charging up his fist with red or golden energy. It just looks wrong whenever it is shown without the Kirby krackle.
- In DC's New 52, this style of energy seems to be visual shorthand for things that tie into Fourth World stuff especially with OMAC and Earth 2's Al Pratt, characters whose powers are hinted at being consequences of New Gods tech. Perhaps only fitting, as it was Jack Kirby himself who originally created Fourth World and the New Gods.
- In Gotham City Garage, a green-and-white Kirby Krackle surrounds Big Barda every time she starts up her cosmic rod.
- Kirby Crackle were often used in the Red Daughter of Krypton storyline, when Supergirl's eyes poured sheer red energy◊ or her Battle Aura flared up◊.
- In Many Happy Returns, this effect was used when Kara was flying in the second-to-last-issue.
- In Supergirl Vol 1 #2, masses of white and black dots are used to depict currents of sea foam when Supergirl swims.
- In Young Love's second panel, masses of black dots are used to represent the space void.
- In The Supergirl from Krypton, Superman and Darkseid are surrounded by masses of orange and black dots while they fight on the surface of the Sun.
- In Supergirl Vol 2 issue #21 they show up every time someone powers up, gives off energy or fires energy bolts.
- In Superman story War World, masses of black dots are frequently used to represent nebulas and the space void.
Films — Animation
- Wizards has these from time to time, most visible when Avatar shorts-out Necron 99 after the latter kills Elinore's father. It's very much in keeping with the movie's general worship of countercultural '60s Comics.
- Deliberately invoked in the Disney film Atlantis: The Lost Empire, especially for the massive energy discharges of the mechanoid beast that guards the undersea passage to Atlantis. The director discusses their use and origin by name on the commentary track.
- The Emotions in Inside Out all have Kirby Crackle on their skin, which gives them a distinctive grainy texture.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree: As part of Gloriosa's transformation sequence, there is an effect of black-and-white energy dots rolling over her clothes and turning them into Gaea Everfree's supervillainess costume.
Films — Live-Action
- A rare live-action version of the Kirby Crackle appears in the film Guardians of the Galaxy whenever the Infinity Gem is used.
- Thor: Ragnarok, which was released during Kirby's centennial, uses the Crackle more blatantly. Most prominently in portals such as the one Hela first steps out of in her first appearance.
- Done with the playfield art for Black Knight 2000.
- Appears in the Williams/Bally pinball game Firepower, along with one or two character faces that appear very Kirbyesque. As Jack Kirby isn't known to have been involved in any pinball game artwork, it's suspected that this was a case of plagarism.
- In Genie, the jinn's manifestation is accompanied by a swarm of Kirby Crackle.
- The cryogenic machine of Centigrade 37 is adorned with lots of Crackle and Power Glows.
- The Enclave of the Endlings in Sentinels of the Multiverse is one big love letter to Jack Kirby, so Kirby Dots are shown all over the place, most prominently on Venox, the Last Mubbloxian.
- As with every comics trope ever, the Freedom Force games feature this, most notably for the Energy-X that gave the characters their powers.
- The Power Flight travel power in Champions Online surrounded the character with black Kirby Crackle. There was also the Krackle Aura, whose description explicitly mentions Jack Kirby.
- Various powers and weapons in DC Universe Online, such as Hand Blasters, use Kirby Crackle.
- Shortly before it shut down, City of Heroes added an aura that greatly resembled Kirby Crackle, called "Dark Matter".
- In Marvel: Avengers Alliance, the Agent can acquire a set of Power Armor which grants a Battle Aura of 'bursting' colored dots. Smaller, darker dots hover at the edge of the main aura to suggest this trope.
- In this strip of Evil, Inc., Kirby Crackle are not only displayed, they're used as a measure of a monster's super-powers.
- They appear prominently in this strip from The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, and they're even lampshaded two strips later.
- JL8, being an homage to old Justice League comics, uses them where appropriate. For example.
- Irregular Webcomic! uses them in the hand drawn Supers theme, here and here.
- Autumn Bay features them around the mysterious being that follows Stephen in the beginning.
- In League of Super Redundant Heroes they are used, appropriately enough, to illustrate the aura of a Galactus Captain Ersatz.
- Ben 10 has a bunch of Kirby Crackle against a green background during most of Ben's transformations. Also, the 0 in Ben 10 has a bunch of dots in the middle. This makes sense, as the series was influenced by comics. The main character's Embarrassing Middle Name? Benjamin Kirby Tennyson.
- An episode of Superman: The Animated Series had Superman attacked by an Apokolips war machine with animated Kirby Crackle on its front panel.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold, being heavily inspired by the Silver Age, features Kirby Crackle in several background instances, including Blue Beetle's power-up sequence. It's also very noticeable in the highly Kirby-inspired episode "The Last Bat On Earth!", as well as in Omac's transformation sequence. note
- Shego's energy powers exert this effect in Kim Possible.
- In the 2003 TMNT series, they did a tribute episode to Jack Kirby, Kirby Crackle and all.
- In The Super Hero Squad Show Ms. Marvel calls Galactus's energy attack a "Kirby Krackle".
- All over the place in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! The Hulk once saw a commercial for Kirby Kibble dog food, containing "Kirby Dots of real beef".
- The short-lived Silver Surfer animated series combined this with Conspicuous CGI with inconsistent effectiveness.
- Sunspots appear on the surface of stars during periods of intense magnetic activity and appear as (wait for it) a series of dark overlapping dots. They may have been Jack Kirby's inspiration for this particular technique.