Archival Site 2004-2006 see See

Sunday, October 31, 2004

New Kirby - Jack Kirby Reader Volume 2

Just released, ISBN 1566850266

Only on-line place I've seen it offered is Last Gasp

More work from Kirby in the 1940s and 1950s, about 160 pages in crisp black and white. A good mix of almost all genres except super-heroes (and if you want Kirby super-heroes there are a few other books available), with crime, romance, war, western, funny animal, science-fiction and fantasy.

The cover is a nice sword-fight scene from the cover of WIN-A-PRIZE #1.

The book opens with four pulp illustrations from MARVEL STORIES in 1940. They're pretty good early work, I think the first one, "The Thought-World Monsters" is the strongest

"Gang War" - REAL CLUE CRIME V.2 #7
A gangster story about 1920s Illinois, where a rivalry escalates to increasing violence until the police finally take a hand. Some very nice scenes of gang violence, very cinematic.

"The Mad White God of Palm Island" - REAL CLUE CRIME V.2 #7
Previously printed in BURIED TREASURE #1, although without the greytones this time, which is an improvement. Still some nice action scenes, though a bit of a weak story.

"My Problem Date" - MY DATE #2
One of the "Swifty Chase" stories from the short lived title, which led directly to the long running romance line. This series is sort of half-way between the teen humour series that Archie was already doing a the time and the romance books, this time featuring Swifty designing a flying car. So not so realistic, but lots of fun.

"The Head in the Window" - JUSTICE TRAPS THE GUILTY #1
A "true" crime story, with a wonderfully gory splash panel of a severed head, this story set in 1890s New York lets Kirby take a full page to lovingly draw the details of a bomb blowing up in a Wall Street office building.

"Lockjaw Goes to College" - PUNCH & JUDY V.3 #1
One of Kirby's forays into funny animals, Lockjaw is a talking alligator who has a companion in the diminutive Professor. His most common schtick is that in fights he grabs the Professor and uses him as a club, which is a lot funnier than it should be. In this story, the last of four Lockjaw stories, Lockjaw goes to university, joins a fraternity (one member looks like a disguised Goozlebobber from CAPTAIN VICTORY almost forty years later). A good vehicle for slapstick humour.

"Earl the Rich Rabbit" - PUNCH & JUDY V.3 #1
This was a feature taken over by S&K from another artist, so it looks different from most of their stuff, much more open without the heavy inks. The basic gimmick is a wealthy rabbit living his life with poor jealous human neighbours trying, and failing, to get the better of him.

"The Bobby-Sox Bandit Queen" - HEADLINE #27
More "true" crime (I'm always tempted to see if there's ever any non-comic book record of these true cases), this time featuring a sixteen year old girl who gets caught up in a life of crime with her older boyfriend, leading to a cross-country chase. This is a nice twisting story with lots of similarities to the romance books, which were starting at the same time.

"Boy Crazy" - YOUNG ROMANCE #2
Great early romance story, this one featuring a teen-ager competing with her aunt and learning a thing or two about maturity. Nice different kind of ending to the standard romance for this one.

"Face in the Storm" - AIRBOY V.4 #10
A "Link Thorne, Flying Fool" story, the feature was basically a variation on Caniff's Steve Canyon, with a post-war civilian flyer, right down to the exotic assistant (with the rather odd name Wing-Ding). In this story, Link tells about a wartime experience where his plane crashed in China, and he was cared for by a mysterious woman. What's most interesting is that the name of the woman is Auralie, which Fourth World fans will recognize as the name of one of Scott Free's fellow disciples of Himon on Apokolips 25 years later. I'm sure that means something.

"Ask Eddie Green, Consultant to Crime" - JUSTICE TRAPS THE GUILTY #3
More crime, this one featuring a jailbird who gets involved in planning crimes for others, in exchange for a piece of the action. Of course, he finds that crime does not pay, justice always traps the guilty and all those important lessons. I always hope in one of these stories we'd find out that crime does pay. I can think of one EC story that is sort of like that, with the girl framing her mother.

"Mama's Boy" - YOUNG ROMANCE #10
"Too Wise for Romance" - YOUNG LOVE #2
A few more romances, with the usual barriers popping up in the way to true love. These stories are great showcases for Kirby's work, with lots of opportunities to draw different settings and types of people (although admittedly the leads do tend to be the "Kirby hero" standard types more often than not).

"Captain Thayer's War" - REAL CLUE CRIME V.4 #4
Apparently only inked by Kirby, which is unusual, the penciller isn't identified. The Kirby comes through pretty clearly, with the same look as most. A fun allegedly true story about a late-1800s con-man trying to set up his own country.

"I Talked With My Dead Wife" - STRANGE WORLD OF YOUR DREAMS #1
"The Girl in the Grave" - STRANGE WORLD OF YOUR DREAMS #2
A pair of stories featuring dream analyst Richard Temple. Very odd concept for a series, but the dream imagery concept allowed them to do some interesting art, and the surrounding story is the usual sold work.

"Mine Field" - BATTLEGROUND #14
"The Vengeance of Growling Bear" - QUICK TRIGGER WESTERN #16
A short war and short western story from the brief stint at Marvel/Atlas that Kirby had in 1956/1957, when he also did 3 issues of YELLOW CLAW. The war one is really good, a WWII story about a frightened young private who comes across Germans laying a minefield to trap his compatriots. The western is also nice, with an Indian chief trying to prevent his tribe from being drawn into a war.

"The Cadmus Seed" - ALARMING TALES #1
"The Woman Who Discovered America 67 Years Before Columbus" - BLACK CAT MYSTIC #60
And finishing off with a pair of 1957 stories published by Harvey. "The Cadmus Seed" is notable for a wonky early use of cloning as a story concept, which Kirby would return to with JIMMY OLSEN (to the point that later writers borrowed the "Cadmus" name for the DNA Project, since I don't think Kirby used the Cadmus name himself in JIMMY OLSEN). "The Woman..." is another one of those "true" stories, this one about a Spanish woman who apparently described visions of South American native cultures long before Europeans made the trip across. Hey, any excuse to see Kirby draw Conquistadors and Quetzlcoatl are cool with me.

There are also two photos, one frontispiece of Simon and Kirby at a desk, and a colour photo on the back of Kirby and, I assume, one of his daughters in a swimming pool. Very cool.

A great collection. No real quibbles with the selection of stories or the reproduction. The only problem is the lack of any supporting material, with only a contents page with story title, original issue and date. Not even the publisher or who might have inked the stories. It's odd, but Theakston's books started off having too much supplemental material, hit a healthy medium for a while, and have now whittled down to the bare minimum.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

New Kirby - Marvel Visionaries Jack Kirby

ISBN: 0785115749

MARVEL VISIONARIES: JACK KIRBY was just released. While I could (and will) quibble about a few thing, it's an incredible bargain. I wasn't expecting it to be at the slightly larger size Marvel's been using for its hardcovers of contemporary books, and at 352 pages for $30 it's under half the price-per-page of a standard Masterworks/Archives book. The economies of comic pricing never make much sense. I really hope we see another volume of this soon, and maybe volumes for Ditko and others.

A few quick comments, mostly on the reproduction quality since only two (and a half) of the stories in here are actually new to me.

Greg Theakston provides an introduction, which outlines Kirby's career and various stints at Marvel with some sort of metaphor about Hans Christian Andersen stories. I'm not sure of the connection, either.

"Mercury in the 20th Century," RED RAVEN COMICS #1, Kirby's first work for Marvel; More historically interesting than anything else, this looks good. Seems to be pretty much the same sharp reproduction Theakston used in his reprint a few years back, in colour this time.

"The Vision," MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #13, Kirby’s first regular Marvel series; Same as the previous reprint, a bit spotty on the lettering but mostly decent on the art. Not bad, but the later Vision stories seem more interesting.

"Meet Captain America," CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1, the first Captain America story; Awful reproduction, only unacceptably bad repro in the book, which is odd since this story has been re-printed quite a bit, always looking much better than this. I don't know why they just didn't use the previous reprints. I know they're reprinting the CLASSIC YEARS as part of the Masterworks line soon, I hope this isn't a sample of how it'll look.

"UFO the Lightning Man," YELLOW CLAW #3, from a strip Kirby wrote and drew during the '50s; Hey, it's something I hadn't read! The Yellow Claw stories are pretty weird, all short and snappy, with some great visuals but abrupt plotting, to be kind. The reproduction on this one looks surprisingly good, just a shade fuzzy, especially around the lettering, but better than I expected.

"Beware the Rawhide Kid!," RAWHIDE KID #17, the first revamped Rawhide Kid story and the beginnings of the Marvel style; Disappointing they only found room for the beginning of the story, not the rest of the issue where you find out how the Kid became an outlaw. Always a pleasure to see a Kirby/Ayers western, though.

"I Am the Amazing Dr. Droom!," AMAZING ADVENTURES #1, the origin of Jack's first super-heroic character of the '60s; Partly new to me, as the previous reprint was heavily altered in the process of chaging "Droom" to Druid", giving him a beard and adding a page to the story by enlarging a few panels. Cover is pretty poorly printed, looks like a colour photocopy from back in the day when colour photocopies were new, but the story looks very good.

"I Was A Decoy For Pildorr, the Plunderer from Outer Space!," STRANGE TALES #94, from the monster era; the first time Joe Sinnott inked the King(*); Also new to me. Typical of the Atlas monster books, with a cool creature and a twist at the end. Nice to see Larry Lieber credited for the writing of one of these, usually they're mis-credited or uncredited. Spotty reproduction, especially on the cover, but better than some, I have to wonder why the editor of this volume is under the delusion that the title is "I Defied Pildorr...".
(*)Actually seems to be the second Kirby/Sinnott story, after TALES TO ASTONISH #10

"The Origin of the Hulk," HULK #3;
"Spidey Tackles the Torch," AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #8;
"Captain America Joins the Avengers!," AVENGERS #4;
"The Coming of Galactus," FANTASTIC FOUR #48-50;
"This Man, This Monster," FANTASTIC FOUR #51;

All stuff which has been in Masterworks editions, so I assume the same repro that they got in those.

"The Fangs of the Fox," SGT. FURY #6; Glad to see they worked in a Fury story, and didn't resort to the Cap crossover issue (which is good, but not representative and more common). I'd probably have picked an Ayers inked issue rather than Roussos, but this is fine. Fair reproduction.

"The People Breeders," THOR #134-135;
"To Become an Immortal," THOR #136;
Good selection for the Thor sample, except for the obvious problems with Thor issues of this era. Fun stories, and they look pretty good here, especially considering they seem to be taken from printed comics.

"The Inhumans!" AMAZING ADVENTURES v.2 #1-2; Odd choice to end the Silver Age section on. The Inhumans half-issue stories weren't Kirby's best, as he seemed to still be feeling out doing full writing on his books, while under the Marvel system.

"America Will Die!," CAPTAIN AMERICA #200; Might have been more welcome if the whole "Madbomb" story hadn't just been collected and there weren't a dozen non-reprinted stories to pick just in CAP. Still, looks good as a sample of his work of the era.

"The Fourth Host," ETERNALS #7; I guess it's a good choice for an Eternals issue, even though it lacks most of the main characters, it does work as a stand-alone story. Inconsistant reproduction, looks like they might have had good stats for most of the book, but not for a few pages. Still, nothing dips to unacceptable, mostly just suffering in comparison.

"What If the Original Marvel Bullpen Was the Fantastic Four?," WHAT IF #11; I'm one of those who just loves this story, as silly as it is, and it's great to have a reprint of it looking this fine.

Rounding out the book are a few neat things, an FF sketch for a fan on Marvel stationary, a gag cartoon from 1941, the famous drawing-board self-portrait with a host of Marvel characters and three pages of pencils from FF #49.

Friday, October 29, 2004

New Gods #7 - The Pact

Note, this is the 100th Kirby book featured on this web-log. Of course, a disproportionate number of them (67) have been books where Kirby just did the covers, because they're easier (I've got scans of about 300 other such books ready to go). I figured for #100 it should be one of the best.

NEW GODS #7 featured "The Pact", a powerhouse 24 page story which fills in the mythology of the Fourth World. I can only imagine how much more powerful it was to people who read it not knowing the secrets it reveals. This is full of amazing scenes that flesh out what was in the first few issues and raising more questions and possibilities. The best of these scenes is the one that the page above is in the middle of, where Izaya rejects the ways of Darkseid to find his destiny as Highfather. It's a thing of beauty. Thank god Mike Royer was the inker at this point, so the scene has its full weight.

Interesting side note, there was an unused unfinished splash page, apparently meant for this issue, published in JACK KIRBY QUARTERLY #11, which featured an intriguing scene of pre-transformation Izaya confronting Darkseid. No dialogue on the page, unfortunately, so no clue as to exactly what this scene would have entailed.

Also in this issue, a two-page Young Gods story featuring Vykin of the Forever People, quickly looking at some of the remnants of the "Great Clash" on New Genesis, inked by Vince Colletta, a reprint of the Manhunter story "The Legend of the Silent Bear" from ADVENTURE #76 from 1942, which has some interesting moments (such as the hero being led through a forest by a boy scout), although Manhunter is definitely the most minor of the S&K DC features (they only did seven short stories). Also a two page S&K reprint from REAL FACT #2, "A World of Thinking Machines", projecting such things as robot secretaries, robot athletes and multi-armed robots for housework. Okay, not the best predictions ever...

Published March 1972

Horror/Monster Covers

In the spirit of the season

MYSTIC COMICS #7, 1941. One of Simon&Kirby's first covers at Timely, with some cool monsters. And Hitler, too. The Destroyer is one of those characters who didn't seem to last very long.

BLACK MAGIC #2, 1950 (issue corrected, I got it mixed up with v2#2, aka #8. Wish they numbered those books normally and clearly). Boy, that Halloween party rocks!

WORLD OF FANTASY #19, 1959. One of the not quite so long-lived Marvel monster books, this issue at least had a pretty cool Kirby monster, apparently inked by Christopher Rule, leading candidate for the inker of FF #1 and #2.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Eternals #1 - Day of the Gods

Kirby's first new series on his return to Marvel, a few months after he re-took the reins of CAPTAIN AMERICA, was THE ETERNALS. It also had the most complex set-up, with two hidden races emerging, the god-like Eternals and the monstrous Deviants.

The first issue eases into the concepts, with just one of the Eternals, Ikaris, leading a father and daughter archeologist team to a chamber of alien beings in South America, explaining the basis of the Eternals/Deviant setup, and then being attacked by a group of Deviants led by Kro.

Kirby really goes all out in the art for this. He opens big, with two full page splashes and a double page splash making up the first four pages, with detailed images of the huge constructs in the chamber. He continues with such nice images as the underwater Deviant city, the mountain home of the Eternals and more, all well inked by John Verpoorten (with a cover inked by Frank Giacoia). All in all it's a good set up to what woulbe be an entertaining and fairly long-lived series (19 issues and a double sized annual).

Published 1976.

Monday, October 25, 2004

First Romance Magazine #42 - Cover

FIRST ROMANCE MAGAZINE #42, 1956. One of the Harvey romance covers Kirby did in that era. An average Kirby cover, but I'm assuming the art doesn't refer to story in the caption. Check out this juxtaposition:

If you can't read it, it says

Should I Keep My Love a Secret? Or Compete With... "My Sister, My Rival"

Now, if that referred to this cover, by romance comic standards, it would be the bus driver in the background who's speaking, meaning that's his sister in the foreground, and she's his rival for the affections of the coffee-counter guy. Now, I've got no problem with that, but I don't think it would have gotten that code seal in the corner in 1956 with that plot.

Superman Gallery #1

Since I had it out to compare the pencils with the just released Milgrom inked version (and Milgrom did a great job with it), here's the unused cover to JIMMY OLSEN #133, as published in THE SUPERMAN GALLERY #1 in 1993.

A fairly minor entry in the Kirby bibliography, even moreso now that the inked version has been published and so many pages of Kirby pencils have been published in fanzines in the past decade, but there's some other good stuff in here, including images by Joe Shuster, Curt Swan, Wayne Boring, some decent modern images (some not quite so much, depending on your tastes).

Sunday, October 24, 2004

New Kirby - Jimmy Olsen v2

Odd how after nothing for quite a while, several Kirby books, from different publishers, are coming out within weeks of one another...

DC has just published the concluding volume of Kirby's issue's of JIMMY OLSEN, with this collection of #142-148. In addition to the stories and covers from those issues (one of them mis-credited, #145 is Anderson inks on the cover, not Colletta. Oddly, Evanier gets it right in his introduction), they also have three pages of reproductions of Kirby's pencil work, so you can see what his actual Superman head looks like, a Newsboy Legion short story from a post-Kirby issue for some reason, the aforementioned Evanier introduction and a cover inked by Al Milgrom over an alternate version of the cover to #133 (the pencils were previously published in THE SUPERMAN GALLERY back in 1993).

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Jack Kirby Checklist

Figured I should mention that a lot of the information for these entries comes from THE JACK KIRBY CHECKLIST 1998 FINAL EDITION, published by TwoMorrows. An essential guide for the Kirby fan, this 100 page book is almost sure to lead you to some Kirby story you didn't know about, or a source for a reprint of a story. Also contains sections on Kirby's comic strip work, magazine articles about Kirby and unpublished work and more. Liberally illustrated with dozens of sketches of his many characters.

You'd also want to get the 2001 Update of the list which appears in THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR #32. It lists a few corrections, new stuff published after the original list and newly discovered stuff.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Yet Another Cover Gallery

RAWHIDE KID #41, 1964. Love that image of the Kid leading a revolt on a mining cart.

HOUSE OF MYSTERY #78, 1958. As well as a number of stories, Kirby did a handful of covers for the DC fantasy books of the late 1950s

FANTASTIC FOUR #181, 1977. A nice large action-pose of the Thing by Kirby/Sinnott is always a pleasure.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

100-Page Super Spectacular #DC-15

One of DC's best reprint forums of the early 1970s was the 100-Page Super Spectacular. #DC-15 was a good one, with two Simon&Kirby reprints.

First up was the Boy Commandos story from DETECTIVE COMICS #65, the untitled second Boy Commandos story. They also reprinted the cover, which has Batman and Robin welcoming the BCs to the book, an issue late, but Batman is a busy guy...

The story opens with, of all things, Nostradamus in 1565, in the court of Queen Catherine of France. It turns out that not only did he predict Hitler and his invasion of France, he also predicted the Boy Commandos. No word on if he predicted Devil Dinosaur.

From that introduction, we go to the then modern day, where Rip Carter and the Boy Commandos are practicing parachute jumping in England. Carter then annouces that the boys have to go to school, and they go an English boys' school. They get hazed by the other students and befriended by a gardener. Unfortunately, the gardener turns out to be a spy for the Germans, hoping to get some hint about what Carter's unit is planning. Fortunately, Carter manages to figure this out in time to change his plan and destroy a weapons factory in France, just missing capturing Goering. Of course, the boys are disappointed that after that they still have to return to the school.

Oddly, the story just ends there, while I would have expected a return to the Nostradamus framing sequence.

Later in the issue, the Sandman story from ADVENTURE #81 is reprinted. "A Drama in Dreams" has Sandy suspicious about how Wesley Dodds is acting (and as an aside, didn't Sandy and Bucky have the worst secret identities in the world? I mean, their first names? The mask doesn't really help much with that kind of clue). For one thing, Wes doesn't seem to know that he's the Sandman. Sandy follows him, and finds out that "Wes" is a criminal double, who has captured the real Wes in order to steal one of his businesses. Eventually, it ends with Wes Dodds, disguised as the Sandman, impersonating the criminal, who's impersonating Wes Dodds, who is, of course, the Sandman. Yeah, I was confused too.

Two good examples of early 1940s S&K, plus the issue has three Superboy stories, a Superbaby story, Aquaman, Hawk&Dove and Dial H For Hero.

Published March 1973

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Who's Who #16

WHO'S WHO #16 featured four Kirby drawn entries (as well as Brian Bolland drawing the Kirby designed Morgaine le Fay from THE DEMON).

Mother Box gets an entry, inked by Mike Royer. Simple enough image of three styles of Mother Box, with backgrounds of the use of it at the hands of Orion, Scott Free and the Forever People.

New Genesis gets a page, inked by Greg Theakston. Four images of various scenes, including a nice one of the memorial statues, and a background of the destruction of New Genesis from THE HUNGER DOGS.

The New Gods get a great double page spread, inked by Theakston, with 29 characters in a big crowd scene (with, oddly, Fastbak being the largest one, right up front), as well as headshots of each.

And the Newsboy Legion get a page, with a scene of the team back in Suicide Slum with their guardian, officer Jim Harper, inked by Karl Kesel.

Published June 1986

Upcoming Kirby - Marvel Visionaries Stan Lee

A fair bit of Jack Kirby, some of it never before reprinted (the final
Kirby issue of THOR), in the upcoming Marvel Visionaries Stan Lee
hardcover, due February of next year.

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Marvel Comics; (February 1, 2005)
ISBN: 0785116931

In celebration of its 65th anniversary, the House of Ideas proudly presents a timeless testament to another true Marvel visionary! In 1961, writer Stan Lee penned Fantastic Four #1, an historic issue unlike any comic book that had come before. This super-hero team had true personalities - they doubted their own abilities, battled problems of money and illness, and even fought among themselves. The monumental popularity of this realistic comic-book style inspired Lee to create similarly themed titles - including Hulk, X-Men, and Avengers with artist Jack Kirby; and Amazing Spider-Man with artist
Steve Ditko. By 1965, Lee had successfully established Marvel Comics as a cohesive universe populated by world-famous comic-book characters. Now, this deluxe keepsake edition collects his greatest moments - some never before reprinted:

"Captain America Foils the Traitor's Revenge" (Captain America Comics #3): Stan's first story, a two-page text piece! "The Red Skull's Deadly Revenge" (Captain America Comics #16): The defining Golden Age Red Skull story! "The Raving Madman" (Suspense #29): Stan's satire on Frederick Wertham and the comics witch hunts of the '50s! "Your Name Is Frankenstein!" (Menace #7): A modern Frankenstein story, featuring many of the elements of the later Marvel books! "Where Walks the Ghost" (Amazing Adult Fantasy #11): A short, twist-ending story by Lee and Ditko! Plus: "Spider-Man" (Amazing Fantasy #15); "A Visit With the Fantastic Four" (Fantastic Four #11); "How Stan and Steve Create Spider-Man" (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1); "In Mortal Combat with Sub-Mariner" Daredevil #7); "The Final Chapter" (Amazing Spider-Man #33);"Bedlam in the Baxter Building" (Fantastic Four Annual #3); "And Who Shall Mourn for Him?" (Silver Surfer #5); "Brother, Take My Hand" (Daredevil) #47; "And Now, The Goblin," "In the Grip of the Goblin," and "The Goblin's Last Stand" (from Amazing Spider-Man #96-98); "No Longer Alone" (Captain America #110); "No More the Thunder God," "When Gods Go Mad," and "One God Must Fall" (from Thor #179-181); "While the World Spins Mad" (Marvel Premiere #3); and "The Circle of Life" (Spectacular Spider-Man Super-Special 1995)!

Jimmy Olsen #144

The second collection of Jimmy Olsen stories by Jack Kirby should be out this week, bringing all of the 1970s Fourth World stories by Kirby into print.

#144 will be among those issues. It opens with a Kirby cover inked by Neal Adams, featuring the Newsboy Legion and Jimmy Olsen, as well as Jimmy Olsen's Pal, Superman, with a giant sea monster. Far-out!! indeed.

"A Big Thing In A Deep Scottish Lake" is a 22-page story inked by Colletta, with of course facial modifications by Murphy Anderson. Morgan Edge sends Jimmy and the Newsboys off to Scotland to investigate the Lake Trevor Monster, and directs his contacts at Intergang to take care of them.

And for once, Flippa's scuba gear finally comes in handy, as he goes down to explore the lake, while their guide, Felix MacFinney, reveals himself to be an Intergang agent. Fortunately, they're saved by the Scrapper Trooper (a miniature clone of Scrapper) and the timely arrival of the Loch Trevor monster, who looks to be a distant relative of Fin Fang Foom.

Meanwhile, Superman and the Guardian are invited to a new discotheque, where they encounter Dubbilex the DNAlien, Terry Dean and the San Diego Five String Mob. See what an actual member of the Mob has to say for himself.

"The Torn Photograph" is a two-page vignette giving some hints about some of the mysteries surrounding the DNA Project, stuff Kirby didn't get a chance to fully explore, but many of which informed modern day Superman stories featuring the Project.

Back-up this issue is the cover and lead story from STAR-SPANGLED COMICS #10, the fourth Newsboy Legion story from 1942, "Kings For A Day". It features the boys winning an election where kids run the city for a day. They take jobs as Mayor, DA, Police chief and Commissioner of Sanitation. Of course, they're disappointed to find that they're honourary positions, but still manage to foil various criminals, with some help of Jim Harper, the Guardian.

Published 1971

Sunday, October 17, 2004

New Kirby - Adventures of the Fly

Apparently Archie has just released a collection of the four issues of ADVENTURES OF THE FLY. Quite a bit on Kirby work in those, most of it either never reprinted before or only in a few extremely hard to find books. Reportedly the reproduction is quite good.

by Various
The latest entry in the Red Circle reprint series! This historic edition highlights one of the pioneering superhero titles of the Silver Age: The Fly! Tommy Troy is a young boy whose world is turned upside down when he meets an emissary of the Fly World and is given a special ring that magically transforms him into the superhuman Fly! Considered an early prototype for Spider-Man, The Fly’s earliest adventures were charted by some of the most legendary creative talent in comics: Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Jack Davis, and Al Williamson! All of these artists and more are featured in this special edition that collects titanic tales from 1959 and 1960! Features a cover by fan-favorite, Joe Staton, painstaking restorations of all stories, faithful re-coloring and a foreword by Joe Simon!
SC, 7x10, 96pg, FC $12.95

Tales to Astonish #52 - Cover

TALES TO ASTONISH #52, 1964. After returning to Hank Pym's adventures for a few issues to oversee his change from Ant-Man to Giant-Man (by changing his powers, although you could just as easily have had him join the army to become G.I.Ant-Man). Sol Brodsky, Marvel production manager extrordinaire, inked this one, and we get a nice Kirby winged horse.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #1

Okay, it's not a great series (although later issues did have moments of at least near-greatness), but CAPTAIN VICTORY has a bit of a soft spot in my heart as, I believe, the first non-reprint Kirby comic I bought (and among the first half-dozen Kirby books I bought, period). When it came out in late 1981 it had been three years since Kirby had left Marvel to work primarily in animation.

The history of the series is a bit convoluted, and best told in the CAPTAIN VICTORY GRAPHITE EDITION published by TwoMorrows. Short version, Kirby first did a 17 page first for a proposed Kirby Comics line in the late 1970s (and took the name of the lead from an even earlier unused concept, who eventually saw print as Captain Glory). When that fell through he modified it to a 50 page graphic novel, the first of a planned trilogy, partly by adding most of this first issue in front of the original story and continuing on from there. Eventually he was approached by Pacific Comics to launch their line, and split that graphic novel to make the first two issues of the series. Along the way there was also a film treatment written with Steve Sherman.

So, with a history like that, you can imagine why this reads a bit weird. The core of the story is that Victory leads a group of inter-stellar police who are battling against a insect-like race which conquers and invests inhabited planets. They get to one such planet too late, have to destroy it, but the leader of the Insectons, the Lightning Lady, escapes to Earth, where the Rangers follow.

As I said, far from great, but it's not too bad. Mostly a bit rough in not explaining things. For example, Victory goes up on the bridge during the battle, despite his crew asking him not to, and it seems to be clear that because he's wearing a "portable command post" on his head (a delightfully ridiculous mass of Kirby-tech) that he doesn't need to be there. And then he dies three pages later (for the tenth time, apparently, as they have clone replacements), and his troops seem to defeat the enemy fine without him. I'm sure Kirby had a reason that he insisted on staying on the bridge, but he didn't convey it in the script.

Unlike some, I'm usually a big fan of Kirby's scripting, but this particular example has most of his weaknesses and few of his strengths. On the other hand, Lightning Lady, Egg Head, insanely huge spaceships and guns, Royer inks, there's a lot to like, especially when I first read it as a kid (though, unfortunately, it would be years before I read the rest of it, as there weren't any comic shops nearby. I'm still not certain how I got #1, if it had newstand distribution or what).

Also in this issue, a brief biography of Kirby, with a photo, two pages of character, equipment and military insignia design, and a backcover of Lightning Lady and her Insectons.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Marvel Mystery Comics #12 - Cover

MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #12, 1940. One of Kirby's early covers for Timely/Marvel, with Joe Simon, featuring the Angel. No Kirby interior work in this issue, although with the next issue S&K would start doing stories about The Vision.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Mighty Marvel Western #44 - Doom in the Desert

Marvel's western comics lasted well into the 1970s, primarily as reprint vehicles, so a fair percentage of Kirby's work on them from the early Silver Age got reprinted. This issue reprints one of the Kirby/Ayers stories from RAWHIDE KID #28, "Doom in the Desert".

Here we see the Kid's typical gallantry bordering on stupidity, as he finds himself trapped in the desert and gives the last of his water to his faithful steed Nightwind. Following this he finds himself robbed and left to die by a thief, rescued by said thief's sister and conflicted about his desire for revenge and his reluctance to cause pain to the gal who saved his life.

This issue also has reprints of Werner Roth and Joe Maneely western stories, and a great cover by Gil Kane loosely inspired by a scene in the Kirby story, reportedly one of Kane's favourites among his covers.

Published 1976

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Millennium Edition - Young Romance #1

The logic of DC including YOUNG ROMANCE #1 among the books they reprinted in 2000 as part of their "Millennium Edition" line is suspect, but it was definitely the highlight of the line (only a handful of the other books were even in this league in quality, and most of them had seen several reprints over the years).

The original comic was published in 1947, launching a hughly successful line that Kirby would work on for a dozen years, with several spin-off titles (YOUNG LOVE, YOUNG BRIDES).

This issue had a Simon&Kirby cover, unrelated to any of the interior stories and telling a little mini-story all its own about an artist being seduced by his fiancée's older sister, and three S&K stories, and two more by Bill Draut.

"I was a Pick Up" opens the book, with the story of Toni Benson, a high-school senior who is kept tightly in check by her grandmother, who fears Toni will wind up with a bad reputation like her mother. Of course, Toni rebels, and walks out in one of her mother's old dresses. Having been so secluded, she falls for the pick-up line in the page below: "Pardon the greeting, lady, but it's not often I see a dream -- floating by --".

Naturally complications ensue (including a narrow escape from the police that involves overturning tables and jumping out of windows. S&K weren't about to let the romance genre quell their trademark taste for action), and she finds that the guy who picked her up, unfortunately named Bob, had no respect for her since she was obviously so easy. Yet more complications ensue as she starts to date Stanley Budko, a local hoodlum, and finds herself with a reputation just like her mother. Quite a few twists in this 13 page story, but it ends happily at last, as they usually do in these books.

"Misguided Heart" features the working class love story of June Collins and Sherman Sherman (aka Ditto) and how it's complicated by Karl Barton, the son of the boss. It's a bit of an abrupt story at only 7 pages, but it's a very attractive story, with the best art of these, and it a good look at the whole class struggle theme that is so often a part of these stories.

"Young Hearts Sing A Summer Song" is another class based conflict story, with a local girl in a restort town trying to win the attention of one of the wealthy vacationing boys. It doesn't take much familiarity with the genre to know that doesn't work out for her, and she ends up with one of her fellow "peasant" types. Not too bad, although the art seems a bit flatter than the other stories. Not sure if it's just that the reproduction seems rougher or what.

There have been far too few reprints of Kirby's romance comics work, and even most of those are hard to find (Eclipse's REAL LOVE and some of Greg Theakston's books). It was nice to see at least one example of it get somewhat wider distribution and still available at a very nice price.

Published 2000

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Hi-School Romance #54 - Cover

HI-SCHOOL ROMANCE #54, 1956. A number of Kirby covers appeared on Harvey romance titles around this time. This one seems to be showing an awful lot of leg for the era, but no complaints from me.

Monday, October 11, 2004

--Link-- Oddball Comics by Shaw!

Scott Shaw! has written about hundreds of strange comics over the years, so you know that Jack Kirby would be well represented among his archives. Here are just a handful of the Kirby books he's reviewed, many of which I won't get around to here for a while, if ever:

Headline Comics
Devil Dinosaur
Jimmy Olsen
Blazing Six Guns
Boy Explorers Comics
Justice Traps The Guilty
Black Magic
Punch And Judy Comics
Race For The Moon

Thor #159 - The Answer at Last

At last indeed. After six years, they finally decided to address the weird aspects of the Thor / Don Blake relationship. It was never quite clear early on if Thor was just Don Blake with powers or a true immortal Asgardian, and varied with the story. After a few issues of build-up, this issue finally explains that the Don Blake persona was all part of one of those Odinian schemes, this one to teach his son humility. Oddly enough, he says that "none can be truly strong unless they be truly humble", given that he's all-powerful and rarely shows even a trace of humilty.

As part of this story, there are flashbacks to the youth of Thor, showing the need for this lesson. First off there's his accidental breaking of a treaty with the Storm Giants, which is also shown brilliantly on the cover. Another scene shows one of those classic Asgardian barroom brawls, including Volstagg, a wonderful slapstick comedy device.

Published 1968

Sunday, October 10, 2004

--Link-- Fred Hembeck

Fred Hembeck has a number of interesting things on his site. Most relevent to this web log, he has many of his interpretations of classic comic book covers, along with long reviews of those issues and his memories of them, including of course a fair amount of Kirby books, such as FF ANNUAL #2.

Sandman #2 - Cover

Following the one-shot with Joe Simon the previous year, DC continued the new Sandman in an on-going book in 1975. Different creators on the interiors, but Kirby and Royer were there with the cover art.

Very nice Kirby style nightmare monster, and I like the strong, bold inking, which works very well with this colouring scheme.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Black Cat Mystery #57 - Cover

BLACK CAT MYSTERY #57, 1956. I can't decide what I like best about this cover, the surreal concept, the fish taking notes or the fish with the slide projector controller.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Various genre covers

A trio of covers from various genres.

BLACK MAGIC #14, 1952.
WARFRONT #28, 1956.
TWO-GUN KID #70, 1964.

Two-Gun Kid #55 - The Outlaw

This issue of TWO-GUN KID has a Kirby/Ayers cover, and in addition has a 5 page Kirby/Ayers short story, with no continuing characters (the Two-Gun Kid stories in this issue are by John Severin).

"The Outlaw" is an excellent story, about a bank robber who manages to escape from the local sheriff, but the sheriff remains confident. Over the course of the story, the outlaw finds that he can't do anything with his money for fear of being caught, and is under constant suspicion. Some very nice artwork, check out those faces in panels 2 and 6 of the scan.

Published 1960

--Link-- Fin Fang Foom day

I swear, pure coincidence that Scott Saavedra posted this the same day I posted on FFF.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Fantasy Masterpieces #2 - Fin Fang Foom

Fin Fang Foom is probably the epitome of the Kirby monster, both in look and name,oft reprinted and brought into the Marvel super-hero lore many times by subsequent creators.

FANTASY MASTERPIECES #2 reprints the original story, from STRANGE TALES #89 (1961). Inked magnificently by Dick Ayers, and for some reason coloured orange rather than the original green. I don't usually pick splash pages to post, but this one is just too perfect.

I just love that image, how Kirby mixes human and monster features with wild abandon to create something so memorable.

The story is about a resident of Formosa (Taiwan), derided as a coward by his father due to his his dedication to ancient studies rather than joining the army, acting as Red China prepares to invade by releasing the legendary beast Fin Fang Foom to unwittingly demolish the Red Chinese forces.

The character also inspired what is perhaps the most absurdly wonderful bit of comic related merchandise ever.

This issue of FM also reprints a Don Heck story, "Orogo", for which Kirby did the splash page. I wonder if he drew that first, or was asked to do it after the original was done to punch up the story a bit. The cover of this issue is a collage of images from the three stories reprinted.

Published 1966

1940s Covers

CHAMP COMICS #18, 1941. Another wartime cover. Don't try to think too much about how exactly the Liberty Lads got the jump on those Japanese pilots, much less how the Japanese pilots could attack Washington DC.

DARING MYSTERY COMICS #8, 1942. You gotta feel for Blue Diamond. Right there on the cover, but grouped in with "and others" in the blurb, which names the other five guys.

STAR SPANGLED COMICS #40, 1945. And boy, is that a complicated flying machine for robbing a bank. If it actually works, you could sell the patent for more than the bank robbery would haul in.

1950s Covers

Crime, Romance and Horror images designed to grab you and get your precious dime.

POLICE TRAP #4, 1955. Boy, that looks dangerous, doesn't it? One of the S&K Mainline/Prize books.

TRUE BRIDE-TO-BE ROMANCE #17, 1956. A Harvey romance comic. That guy in the backgound looks like he's going to cause some trouble.

BLACK MAGIC #V2#3, 1952. I don't trust this guy, either.

1960s Covers

DAREDEVIL #5, 1964. Wally Wood took over (and slighly redesigned, before the big redesign) DD with this issue, and inked Jack Kirby's cover.

TALES TO ASTONISH #64, 1965. Colletta inks on this one. The Giant-Man half is a nice bit of Kirby foreshortening.

AVENGERS, THE #22, 1965. Wood inks again. Great image of the Enchantress.

1970s Covers

THOR #255, 1977. Inked by John Verpoorten, with some re-drawing. Because what, Kirby's Thor doesn't look like Thor? Weird. Nice to see the Warriors Three.

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #25, 1977. Inked by Joe Sinnott. Great to see a few more Kirby Thing drawings on these TWO-IN-ONE covers. That was always one of his defining characters.

INVADERS, THE #16, 1977. Inked by Joe Sinnott. Hm, Master Man. There's a Roy Thomas villain for you.