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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Fantasy Masterpieces #11

Two Kirby stories in this final issue of the reprint series. "Mister Morgan's Monster", a 7-page Kirby/Ayers story from STRANGE TALES #99 (1962) I previously discussed from another reprint. Again, it's one of my favourite of the monster stories. The scenes of the aliens crawling all over the robot trying to stop him are great.

"Hotel of Death" is a re-titled version of the 13-page "Hotel of Horror" from CAPTAIN AMERICA #10 (1942), the final S&K issue of the golden age. There are a lot of other minor changes, from adding space between the panels to adjust for the 1960s aspect ratio, change the name of the city from Gotham to Beacon for some reason and change a kind of stereotypical depiction of a pair of black train porters.

In this story, Cap is invited to help sell Defense Bonds in "Beacon City". He and Bucky are taken to a hotel by a man claiming to be the Mayor's secretary, but as soon as Bucky leaves the room strange things begin to happen, with the desk clerk denying ever seeing him before and having him arrested. Meanwhile, Cap finds himself prisoner of a nazi agent named the Netman, who throws nets on people. Clearly S&K weren't going to waste a decent villain on their final issue...

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Bucky manages to escape from jail with the help of a gorgeously drawn horse and returns to the hotel, infiltrating it as a bellhop. He falls down a trapdoor and is taken prisoner, but Cap has already freed himself and is disguised as one of the robed henchmen, so he and Bucky clean house, burning down the hotel in the process.

Pretty horribly printed in this version, especially the colouring, which is often way off-register, but it is a fun story, with some really well drawn scenes (as I said, the horse is really well rendered).

The Kirby Checklist has this as Reed Crandall inks, which seems right. Certainly it has the finer line style typical of Crandall's solo work.

Published 1967

Daredevil #4 - Cover

This is my favourite of Kirby's DAREDEVIL covers. A pretty girl, an "in your face" action scene, a classic Kirby outstretched hand.

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Really good detailing on the building, too. I'm surprised Colletta kept all that in. Hey, come on, I haven't made a cheap shot at Colletta in ages...

Published 1964

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Where Monsters Dwell #7 - Rommbu

The lead story in this issue is reprinted from TALES TO ASTONISH #19 (1961), a 13-page monster story by Kirby/Ayers. As is not atypical in these stories, the colour of the monster is changed from the original reddish-brown to green.

This story is about a geologist, John Hunter, who turned to crime and was sentenced to life in prison. On his way to jail, his train was stopped by a UFO. He escapes and hides aboard the ship as the alien, Rommbu, talks with the people.

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The people greet Rommbu in peace, but he announces he's from a warlike planet and an invasion is on the way. Now, as an aside, humanity in these stories demonstrates the worst judgment in the world. Every time there's a peaceful alien, they assume it's warlike, every time it's warlike they greet it in peace. What up with that?

Anyway, Rommbu takes off to wait for humanity's reply, and finds his stowaway. Determining that the man was indeed a criminal, he decides to trust Hunter as willing to betray humanity and demands a safe place to land so he can recharge his ship. Hunter leads him to a dormant volcano, which conveniently he knew from his geological past was about to erupt. Humanity is spared, and Hunter's brother realizes that he must have sacrificed his life.

A fun variation on a classic theme, and Rommbu's a great looking monster.

The cover is a Kirby/Ayers piece from TALES TO ASTONISH #19, slightly modified with some new bits added among the fleeing crowds, shooting cops and background buildings.

Published 1971

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Rawhide Kid #39 - Cover

Okay, so the Kid didn't exactly have the most realistic western adventures...

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Silly cover, but effective. I like the look of the buildings on this one a lot.

The Kirby Checklist doesn't have an inking credit for this one. I only have a fairly low resolution scan to go on, but it looks a little like Chic Stone.

Published 1964

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #9 - God's Many Mansions

I can't claim to really understand CAPTAIN VICTORY, but in the right mood I can dig it.

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This issue features a trip through hyper-space, and the reality warping properties that you find there. There are two double-page spreads which are kind of interesting in that they're the kind of thing that Kirby would have used photo-collage effects for a decade or two earlier, but draws by hand this time. I like this way better. Anyway, there's some weird stuff going on that I don't understand (and I'm sure re-reading the previous issue would only help slightly) before you get the big battle with the Wonder Warriors the ship was pursuing. Ah, Ursan the Unclean. And the Fighting Fetus. What was Kirby thinking? The issue closes with a cliffhanger as the Fetus starts to grow in a sea of Kirby crackle.

Five page back-up continues the look at Ranger Martius Klavus and his people in the story "The Unseen World", where we find out how they came to be influenced by ancient Roman styles and dress. The back cover features a look at the reptilian crew of the engineering section, who kind of remind me of the alligator Lockjaw, led by Director Chusang.

Inks are by Mike Thibodeaux on the 25-page lead story, 5-page back-up and front and back covers

Published 1983

Monday, June 27, 2005

Black Magic #8[v2n2] - Cover

Wow, I'm just in awe of how gorgeous this cover looks. The shape and texture of the demon, the smoke, the girl in the background. Even more scary is how work like this was routine for Simon&Kirby in that era.

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I sometimes wonder what Kirby's 1960s and 1970s work would look like with this kind of inking sensibility. Different, certainly.

Published 1951

Thor #164 - Lest Mankind Fall

In this issue Thor and Sif continue their battle with the hordes of Pluto while in teh time funnel surrounding the Atomic Research Center, where a mysterious being of power is found within a cocoon.

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I like Thor's indignant "Thy words blaspheme" at the suggestion that anyone claim to have powers to match Odin. He's such a daddy's boy.

Speaking of Odin, he sends Balder, heartsick over his feelings abou the Norn Queen Karnilla, down to Earth to fetch Odin and Sif, so he's on hand, with the army, when Thor finally breaks them out of the time funnel, and great battles ensue until Zeus decides to pay attention and enforce the covenant eternal that keeps Pluto in the netherworld. Meanwhile, the cocoon opens.

Action filled issue, very heavy on the big images (four full page splashes), with a few interesting moments. It's one of those issues where you get a bit of a feeling that the plot was somewhat altered, as was the case for many THOR issues of this period, though I don't recall any specific examples of unused pages from this story. Still a lot of fun. One thing I noticed was that, rather oddly for such an action filled 1960s Marvel, there were almost no sound effects in the issue. Kind of weird how back then one issue could go overboard on the sound effects and another could not have them at all.

Vince Colletta inked the cover and 20-page story.

Published 1969

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Strange Worlds #4 - Cover

One of Marvel's shorter lived interchangeable anthologies of the late 1950s, STRANGE WORLDS only lasted five issues but did see four Kirby covers in that span (and one by Ditko), plus some interior work by those two and Al Williamson, Don Heck and others, so it did okay.

Christopher Rule is the attributed inker to this Kirby cover. Frankly this is one of the less inspired of Kirby's covers from this era, especially having seen how he handled similar subject matter (space-suits and alien landscapes) in earlier work of the decade. Even the alien ship is a bit lacking compared to most Kirby drew. The aliens aren't bad, and the expression on the astronaut's face is good, but that's about it.

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Published 1959

Saturday, June 25, 2005

OMAC #1 - Brother Eye and Buddy Blank

Brace yourselves for "The World That's Coming".

OMAC ##1 is some strange stuff even by 1970s Kirby standards. What can you make of a book that opens with a full page splash of a disassembled robot woman "Build-A-Friend" in a box saying "Hello -- Put me together and I will be your friend"? Just plain weird.

Also, kind of an unusual story structure for Kirby, as he opens with the climax of the story, then has a flashback to the origin building up to the first scene and then the conclusion. It works pretty well, as it moves the action right up to the front and sets up the rest of the issue nicely.

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Anyway, after seeing OMAC bring down the Build-A-Friend shop, we flashback to his origin, as the faceless Global Peace Agency tell Dr. Myron Forest that they have selected Buddy Blank to be the subject of the OMAC Project, leaving Forest to activate the sleeping satellite Brother Eye. After a view of Buddy's life at the offices of Pseudo-People, Inc. and some bizarre scenes of their "psychology section", we see that he was befriended by the previously revealed to be a Build-A-Friend Lila, as part of an experiment in making lifelike beings. As Buddy stumbles onto the secret section and finds out the secret of Lila and the nefarious assassination plans she's to be part of, Brother Eye transforms him to OMAC.

A wonderful issue, brilliant in its almost pure oddball insanity, if Kirby comics were drugs this issue would be the equivalent of mainlining uncut Kirby. Even the artwork seems like a heightened pure version of Kirby. Not for the faint of heart or uninitiated.

Mike Royer inks the 20-page story and the cover (which is a flipped version of the original art Kirby did for the cover). Kirby also writes a text page about how rapidly the world has changed and will continue to change, including the mention that part of the inspiration for this issue comes from seeing the "autitronic robots" during a trip to Disneyland with his granddaughter.

Published 1974

True Bride-To-Be Romances #20 - Cover

Another of the mid-1950s Harvey published romance books that Kirby just did the cover for, this one featuring the familiar choice a woman has to make between her farmboy and cityslicker beaus. Happens more often then you'd think.

And that's a really nice looking hand. Very nice inking overall on this cover, especially the clothing.

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Published 1956

Friday, June 24, 2005

--Link-- FF Movie

No, not any links to the FF movie. As many of you know, there's a movie based on the Fantastic Four due to be released soon. It's not known at this time exactly what, if any, credit Kirby will get on the film, but it will almost certainly be less than he deserves (never mind the financial compensation). Also be prepared for a slew of newspaper, magazine and web articles that mention the film but don't mention Kirby. Given that, I think it would be a good idea, especially among anyone reading this who has a weblog or site, or post on related message boards, to make sure you always mention Jack Kirby as creator or co-creator of the FF whenever the movie comes up, and maybe link to a relevant web site. A few recommended ones:

Mark Evanier's Kirby stuff:

The Jack Kirby Collector:

In particular #9 and #33

A few TJKC articles:

Google search for TJKC articles on FF

A few from this particular site, if I may

Admin - Weblog format

Been modifying the look of the weblog at bit, obviously. Let me know what you think, if anything looks wrong on any browers/systems and anything like that.

Feel free to comment on anything else, too. I see from my counters that I've had a decent uptick in visitors in the last few weeks, almost triple the daily hits from the beginning of the month (either that or a lot of spiders/bots). Let me know what kind of stuff you enjoy about the weblog, what kind of stuff you'd like to see more of or less of.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

--Link-- San Diego Kirby panel

Mark Evanier has posted his San Diego Con panel discussion schedule, including as in most years a Jack Kirby panel. If you'll be there, here's the time. If you're not, THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR will no doubt run a transcript in a future issue as usual (recent comments on the Jack Kirby Mailing List suggest that the TwoMorrows folks might have another thing related to Kirby for the Con)

Friday, July 15
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM / Room 8


Another gathering, another batch of recollections about the
man they still call the King of the Comics. With STEVE SHERMAN, SCOTT
Kirby lawyer PAUL S. LEVINE and ROBERT KATZ, manager of the Kirby estate, plus others to be named later.

Full Evanier Schedule

San Diego Comic-Con site

Kid Colt Outlaw #92 - Cover

KID COLT was a character that pre-dated Kirby at Marvel, and was the main western character who he didn't redesign. He did draw a lot of covers for the series, including this early gem inked by Dick Ayers.

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I really like the composition of this one, with the multiple levels, almost a 3-D effect. The faces of the horses are great as well. Also kudos to the anonymous Marvel production types of the era for a lot of little touches in the colouring, and the way that horse's leg comes in front of the title card (on the other hand, that giant CCA stamp covering part of the logo is an eyesore).

Published 1960

Eternals #16 - Big City Crypt

The beginning of the story has the end of the big fight against the cosmic powered Hulk robot of the last two issues. That whole thing kind of fizzles out, I think it's safe to say that Kirby's heart wasn't in this plotline as much as most.

The battle does bring the Eternals into a long hidden underground lair, where an ancient enemy has been awakened. Ikaris is pulled under first, and Makarri follows. After Zuras stops a fire with his powers he follows.

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He recognizes the enemy as Dromedan the Brain-Snatcher, who is forcing Ikaris and Makarri to fight each other. Zuras frees them of Dromedan's control and faces off against his old foe.

As I said, the Hulk robot thing ended weak, but the rest of the issue is stronger, especially the bits of Zuras' character. While obviously sharing some characteristics with previous Kirby god/rulers (Highfather/Odin/Zeus), he's a very different character in some fundamental ways.

Mike Royer inks the 17-page story and Frank Giacoia inks the cover (where "Ikaris" is spelled wrong).

Published 1977

Upcoming Kirby - Max FF & TJKC

September looks like a clear field for KAMANDI ARCHIVES as the only scheduled Kirby, but here's some stuff for later.

TwoMorrows has released some details for THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR #44, coming out in October. Focus on mythological characters, including Etrigan and Thor, and a reprint of a BLACK MAGIC story.

Marvel has officially rescheduled MAXIMUM FANTASTIC FOUR, the reprint/analysis tome of FF #1, for November, being advance solicited with the September solicitations if you're going to get it from a comic shop.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usTHE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR #44
Fall 2005 - 80 pages - Tabloid Format

Mythadventures rule in JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR #44, focusing on KIRBY’S MYTHOLOGICAL CHARACTERS, including THE DEMON, THOR, ATLAS, ETERNALS, and others! There’s a rare interview with KIRBY, never-seen by most comics enthusiasts! MARK EVANIER answers Frequently Asked Questions about Jack in his regular column, while our other regular columnists give their take on all things Kirby! There’s also two Kirby pencil art galleries; one of THE DEMON, and another featuring some of his other classic mythological characters (both at whopping TABLOID SIZE)! Just in time for Halloween, there’s a never-reprinted BLACK MAGIC story from the 1950s! Also, we present an interview with Kirby Award winner and family friend DAVID SCHWARTZ (with tons of little known anecdotes and info about Jack and Roz), a new Kirby Demon cover inked by MATT WAGNER, and more! Edited by John Morrow.

Introduction and afterword by WALTER MOSLEY
Commentary by MARK EVANIER
Designed by PAUL SAHRE

Ushering in momentous change in comic-book illustration and ingenuity, Jack Kirby’s immense artistic contribution to FANTASTIC FOUR #1 revolutionized visual storytelling and brought the art of reality to the extraordinary lives of super heroes. The ripple effects of that single issue continue to influence comic-book art to this day. As a tribute to Kirby’s rendering of Marvel’s First Family and their first adventure, MAXIMUM FANTASTIC FOUR re-presents FANTASTIC FOUR #1 AS YOU’VE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE – highlighted by a super-size, digitally remastered, panel-by-panel exploration of the entire issue that captures every single detail and nuance of Kirby’s groundbreaking artwork. The book also contains a substantial introduction and afterword by bestselling author and comic-book enthusiast Walter Mosley; art commentary by Kirby expert Mark Evanier; the stunning design of Paul Sahre; and a scale-sized, high-resolution reproduction of FF #1. This immaculately packaged coffee-table masterpiece is must-have for any Jack Kirby enthusiast, Fantastic Four fanatic, or sequential art fan!
224 PGS./All Ages …$49.99
Format: Jacketed hardcover
Trim size: 8 7/8" x 11 7/8"
Special effects: four-color matte lamination, spot UV jacket; four-color matte lamination, spot UV case; and spot varnished interior pages.
ISBN: 0-7851-1792-X

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Avengers #25 - Cover

A nice Kirby/Ayers cover, the Avengers facing off against Doctor Doom. I especially like the posing of this cover, with the Avengers getting ready for action and Doom just standing up to them in the foreground, supremely confident.

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Published 1966

New Kirby - FF Omnibus

Apparently the FANTASTIC FOUR OMNIBUS volume, the $100 oversized 848 page collection of FF #1 - #30 and Annual #1 with a new restoration of #1 better than the one they've been using (presumably even reprinting the real cover), original letter pages and various other special features is out this week. Haven't decided if I'm getting it yet, and might not even see a copy, so I'll be curious to hear from people who get it how it looks and what the extra features are.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Marvel Milestone Edition - The Incredible Hulk #1 - The Coming of the Hulk

Another of Marvel's facsimile reprints of the early 1990s. You know the story, scientist Bruce Banner gets caught in a gamma bomb explosion trying to rescue trespassing teen Rick Jones. In the aftermath Banner finds he turns into a large grey monster at nights and is pursued by the army. Later he's taken prisoner by the russian scientist the Gargoyle and manages, as Banner, to defeat him.

While there would be much meddling in the exact direction of the Hulk over the years, a surprisingly large amount of the most essential stuff is laid out in this story.

The sequence below has been repeated, referenced, traced and referred to countless times in the comics since, but never gets old for me. The transition from panel 1 to 2 is great, with Banner racing towards Jones and then dragging him behind. Panel 4 with Banner just at the edge of the trench when the bomb goes off, a true classic. The hours long scream from panel 6 to 7. That's some storytelling going on here.

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This issue also has an ad for FANTASTIC FOUR with an original early image of the team in their uniforms by Kirby.

Paul Reinman inked the 24 page story. There seems to be some disagreement on the cover, as various sources list Reinman, Roussos and Ayers. Hard for me to tell at the best of times, moreso with just a reprint, but I'm leaning to Reinman.

Published 1991

[Video] Thundarr - Secret Of The Black Pearl

This was the first episode of THUNDARR, from back in 1980. In this story Thundarr and friends get a mysterious black pearl that they must take to the ruins of Manhat, since it can hopefully be used as a weapon against the two-faced wizard Gemini.

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They're pursued by Gemini's groundlings on motorcycles, and when Ariel is taken prisoner Thundarr and Ookla take a helicopter to rescue her. Later Gemini brings the Statue of Liberty to life, but Thundarr is able to use the pearl to cancel out his magic.

Unlike the other episodes I've seen, this one didn't have one of those bits that just came across as pure Kirby. I'm not sure exactly when he became involved in the series, but I wonder if production on this one started before he came aboard? Gemini is a pretty cool villain, though, and his odd two-face design seems slightly Kirbyesque, as did a few backgrounds in his lair. On the other hand, the vehicles are just plain motorcycles and helicopters. They really could have used a Kirby punch-up like vehicles in other episodes got. Oh course the ruins of Manhat, with the collapsed Statue of Liberty, almost certainly intentionally evoke Kirby's KAMANDI #1, whether he had an actual hand in those designs or not.

Just for fun, here's a scan of the credit screen.

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Sunday, June 19, 2005

New Gods #8 - The Death Wish of Terrible Turpin

An excellent issue of NEW GODS, as Kalibak runs wild in the streets, attacking the home of Dave Lincoln in his search for Orion. The police respond, led by Dan "Terrible" Turpin, who's got no time for those "Super Weirdos" taking their war to his streets. I love Turpin in this issue, taking on Kalibak one-on-one.

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Eventually Orion and Lightray arrive, having seen the battle on TV, and Orion takes on Kalibak, showing his true face and giving some allusions to their relationship.

The Lightray/Orion interaction is great in this issue, too.

"You saw my face!!"
"I saw scars -- both old and new -- taken in the cause of New Genesis!"
"You're a good friend, Lightray."

Don't tell me Kirby can't write.

A 3-page Young Gods story has Fastbak racing the Black Racer trying to rescue Esak from the Para-Demons. Esak has always fascinated me since he has a few odd bits like this in the original comics, and then Kirby brought him in a key role in THE HUNGER DOGS, so I'm sure he had a lot more planned for him if he'd been able to explore it originally.

Reprint backup is "The Stone of Vengeance", a 9-page S&K Manhunter story from ADVENTURE #77 (1942). Great splash page, with that dark S&K signature inking. The story follows a reportedly cursed stone as it moves from owner to owner, with each new one killing the previous owners, with a great sequence showing that. When it gets to the States, it ends up with a shoeshine boy who is taken prisoner by the Rajah just as Paul Kirk pursues the Rajah's men from another jewel theft. Of coure it all works out in the end as the bad guys are undone by their own greed.

Mike Royer inks the cover and lead story, Colletta inks the Young Gods story, but it looks pretty good anyway. This issue also has one of the full page ads for KIRBY UNLEASHED.

Published 1972

Upcoming Kirby - Kamandi

Written by Jack Kirby
Art by Kirby & Mike Royer
Cover by Kirby
The first archive in a series collecting the adventures of Kamandi, the last boy on Earth, by Jack Kirby! In these tales from KAMANDI #1-10 (1972-1973), Kamandi — one of the few survivors of the Great Disaster — must make his way in a world populated by bizarre mutated animals and other strange wonders!
On sale Sept 14 - 244 pg, FC, $49.99 US

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

New Kirby - Essential FF, 70s Cap, X-Men

Triple shot of new Kirby from Marvel this week. The long awaited ESSENTIAL FF v4 is a big chunk of quality stuff. CAPTAIN AMERICA BY JACK KIRBY: BICENTENNIAL BATTLES TPB includes the relatively hard-to-find original tabloid adventure plus five regular issues of Cap. GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #3 includes two Kirby reprints (X-MEN #9 / FF #28) among the mix of new and reprint contents.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Marvel's Greatest Comics #74 - Ben Grimm, Killer

This is an edited reprint of FF #92 (1969), continuing the Ben Grimm enslaved story. In space, Ben continues to be trained in combat by teh faux-gangsters who have captured him. Some of the other slaves are pretty lame (Magno-Man, with a horseshoe magnet for a head, alien species like Rhinogons, Primoids and Cat-Men, which I think you can figure out) so this is clearly at the point where Kirby was saving his better designs for a better outlet. Still a lot of good action with Ben and the aliens, and some of the aliens in the background are kind of cool.

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Eventually the training ends, and the games begin, and Ben finds out that the reason the other slaves don't rebel is that their home planets are threatened if they do.

Meanwhile on Earth, Reed figures out what has happened and sets up the old captured Skrull ship from FF #2, and takes Johnny and Crystal to the rescue (Sue of course being left behind, being a new mother and all).

Two pages edited out, so it's now an 18-page story. The cover is a modified version of the original, flipped left-to-right and with a few other small changes. Inks by Joe Sinnott.

Published 1977

New Kirby - Modern Arf

Editor Craig Yoe reports that his MODERN ARF, previously talked about here, with a 1950s Kirby short story from Harvey reprinted from the original art, is now out. You can read more about the book at and you order it from

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Action Comics #449 - The Mystery of the Giant Arrows

This reprints the two-part Green Arrow story from ADVENTURE COMICS #252 / #253 (1958), editing out the splash page of the second story.

High goofball fun in this one, as the city is attacked by mystriously appearing giant arrows. Of course, Green Arrow and Speedy investigate, since someone is taking their gimmick, eventually finding themselves drawn into an alien dimension.

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That bit with GA worrying about never seeing his adoring crowds of kids when he goes to flog the Green Arrow Arrow Kit cracks me up. Also, that's a great alien world.

Anyway, very neat stuff, although of course more readily available in the collection DC did a few years ago.

Published 1975

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Tales to Astonish by Ronin Ro

Finally got around to reading Ronin Ro's 300-page biography of Jack Kirby, TALES TO ASTONISH. Had mixed feelings about it, but overall I'd say it does an alright job of gathering information from a variety of sources, putting it in order and presenting a biography of Kirby good for an audience slightly familiar with the story. There's not a lot of new information for those already familiar with the background, although it is useful to have it all laid out between two covers as opposed to through several dozen magazines and books. There's also probably not enough background for a reader not already at least casually aware of Kirby's history and significance. Worth the price of the upcoming paperback edition.

If you do read the book, I'd suggest checking out Mark Evanier's impression of the book before and after and take his suggestions into account.

The book begins with a brief look at Kirby's childhood, runs through his early life and professional career rather quickly for my liking (we already meet Joe Simon by page six) and then follows the S&K team through the years. A few interesting anecdotes, some that I don't recall hearing before. The late 1950s DC period, with CHALLENGERS and SKY MASTERS and some lawsuits, goes by rather quickly in under a dozen pages, which seems to give it short shrift compared to its importance in the grand scheme.

That brings us to Silver Age Marvel, obviously the heart of the book, which is familiar to most fans. Some parts of the narrative seem wrong there, with the chronology sometimes not seeming to match reality, a few obvious errors (perhaps attributed to Kirby sometimes mixing things up, as Evanier mentions), and some key events I know of from other interviews being missing. This bit overall was quite a bit less than it could have been.

The move to DC and later return to Marvel, then the shift to animation, make up the next part of the book, and again some of the order of events presented in here don't quite seem right (although I haven't gone to check the actual dates). Also in some cases events are definitely presented out of order and there are some odd contradictions in the text, in particular regarding the sales of some books (probably as a result of taking two separate sources at their word).

The next part of the book deals largely with the art return issue from the 1980s, a rough period, and Kirby's somewhat bitter, perhaps regrettable but often fascinating COMICS JOURNAL interview, leading up to the end of his life. The book also spends I think way too much time around there discussing the comic book market of the 1990s (things like Image Comics, the 2099 line, the unpublished Excelsior line, Marvel's business woes), stuff mostly irrelevant to Kirby as a whole and distracting around the point that the book should have been summing up his career.

While the whole thing is obviously a pop biography rather than a scholarly one, it would also have been nice to see some sort of foot-notes about where some of the quotes come from. I recognize some of them, and the context does not make it clear if the version of some events comes from Jack Kirby, Roz Kirby or some other participant. With some foot-notes that could be checked and the larger context of the quotes could be researched. An index might have been nice, too.

A few things. Other than the covers (which feature parts of a 1972 Kirby drawing) the book has no artwork or photos. That's fine by me, since I have more than enough sources of Kirby art and photos, but seems to be an odd choice for a pop biography of a comic book artist. Not sure if this was a rights thing or a budget thing or something else, but figured I should mention that.

And getting Joe Shuster's name wrong, as this book does about a dozen times, is really grating. That's the comic history book equivalent of nails on a chalkboard to me.

And this is more a comment on the publisher, but I found it funny that the backcover blurb is based on the resurrection of Captain America and then teases with the dramatic turning point of the creation of... Daredevil? A trivial character in general and doubly trivial in Kirby's career (never penciling a full issue, just a handful of covers, having the costume he may have had a hand in designing almost completely changed a few issues in), but I guess it was the most recent Marvel movie when the book was being laid out and they thought they should cash in on some of that Daredevil mojo.

Anyway, as I said, mild recommendation to check out, see if your local library has a copy before buying it. The hardcover of the book is still available while the softcover should be out this summer.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Kirby on non-Kirby Characters Gallery

A trio of 1970s covers that Kirby was called on to do that featured characters he didn't create back in the sixties (except one villain).

MARVEL CHILLERS #7, 1976. Dan Adkins inks. I dunno, Tigra is a hard character to take seriously, which probably means we'll see an ESSENTIAL TIGRA long before we get another ESSENTIAL THOR. Anyway, the Super-Skrull is always cool.

NOVA #7, 1977. Joe Sinnott inks. As I mentioned before, I did like Nova's costume, and thoght it was one of the more compatible with Kirby's style among the later Marvel characters. Plus of course Joe Sinnott is always good to see (check his site for a health update on his shoulder).

GHOST RIDER #23, 1977. Frank Giacoia inks. Not a bad character, but a bit of an odd fit for Kirby. Bit of a goofy cover, very 1970s.

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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Marvel Spectacular #3 - Thunder in the Netherworld

The lead story is reprinted from THOR #130 (1966) and is a big action issue, with Thor facing off against the hordes of the underworld to save Hercules.

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It's a great ever-escalating battle, which finally threatens to bring down all that Pluto had built, bringing him to return to stop the destruction. There's a fun bit of contrast between Hercules love of battle and Thor's dedication to justice in the end.

Meanwhile, in Midgard, the story of Tana Nile starts to develop with more clues about her secret, as she sends Jane Foster away in order to lure Thor into a search for her.

The back-up is a Tales of Asgard story from JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #118 (1965), "The Crimson Hand", continuing the major quest storyline. In this story we see Thor preparing for the voyage, being given the Crimson Hand, which can be used to force anyone clasping it to tell the truth. This comes in useful when Loki brings by a volunteer for the quest, who turns out to be an assassin planning to kill Thor. Loki manages to avoid detection of his own role in that, of course. They sure did give him a lot of leeway back then.

Colletta inks throughout, of course.

Published 1973

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Machine Man #4 - Battle on a Very Busy Street

This issue opens with Doc Spaulding helping Machine Man get rid of the inhibiting cylinder that Ten-For placed on him last issue, and then going off to find the alien Autocron. Along the way Machine Man has a crisis on identity when he hears how the soldiers talk about stopping the machines, leading to an internal discussion with the spirit of his creator/father Abel Stack.

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Regaining his faith in his own identity, Machine Man goes after Ten-Four, planning to return him through a dimensional warp, only to see Ten-For has taken hostages and is summoning more of his race.

Very good issue, moving the story nicely, and there's some especially good Kirby scripting in the identity crisis scene and some nice bits of humour.

Mike Royer inks the 17-page story and Frank Giacoia inks the cover.

Published 1978

Our Fighting Forces #158 - Bombing Out on the Panama Canal

Story continuing from the previous issue. Great opening sequence of the secret Japanese air base in Panama, where they plan to launch a kamikaze attack on the canal. Meanwhile, the Losers are prisoners of Panama Fattie and her men, but manage to get loose. Fattie is unable to pull the trigger when she has a chance to shoot Storm.

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She escapes, but (intentionally?) leads the Losers to the Japanese base, where she dies and the Losers take out the bomber.

In addition to the 16-page story, Kirby also does a 2-page feature on "Nazi Super-Planes", showing some hypothetical planes that the allies might have faced if the war lasted longer. I'm not sure if these are based on any historical records or come straight out of Kirby's imagination, but they definitely feel more Kirby than reality.

Mike Royer inks the whole thing, cover, story and back-up feature.

Published 1975

Monday, June 06, 2005

Sgt. Fury Special #2 - The Man for the Job

This issue contained two Dick Ayers pencilled Sgt. Fury stories, one reprint from #11 and one new story about D-Day. The Kirby content is a quick reprint of the first SHIELD story from STRANGE TALES #135 (1965), just a year after it was first published.

It's a great origin story, a very tight 12-pages of Kirby/Ayers art which establishes the now Colonel Fury as he's recruited to lead the international law enforcement efforts against the forces of Hydra. Although having his doubts about his own qualifications given the super-science realm and international scope of SHIELD, he quickly proves himself by foiling a sabotage attempt and taking charge in the confusion.

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Lots of the key elements of the series are introduced, like the Life Model Decoys, the cool air-car (with the flipped tires), the Helicarrier and of course Hydra! Immortal Hydra! Cut off a limb and two more shall take its place! Man, I always love that Hyrdra salute, especially with the visual.

I also always liked that Tony Stark shows up in here, but with absolutely no reference to Iron Man. That works well to establish the series firmly in the Marvel Universe, but sort of off to one side, where it works best (while Fury also works well as a supporting character in other books).

Published 1966

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Chamber of Darkness #5 - And Fear Shall Follow

Okay, enough with the video interlude, back to print (although I should have at least one more video bit in the next week).

This short story from late in Kirby's Silver Age stint at Marvel is one of the few stories he wrote solo there before the move to DC, where scripting his own work became the rule rather than the exception. It's a quick 6-page story about a military pilot who crashes in Red China and is pursued by a mysterious figure.

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This ends with a mystical twist, as it turns out the pilot died and the figure is just his benevolent guide to the afterlife, sort of like the Black Racer without the skis. An interesting story, a lot more like Kirby's earlier BLACK MAGIC work or upcoming SPIRIT WORLD than most things he would do at Marvel. Some really nice visuals, especially with the "walking through walls" effect at the end of the story and on the cover.

John Verpoorten inks the story, and it's a really nice job, especially the interesting half-tone effect on the mysterious figure on the splash page. Bill Everett provides the inks on the cover.

Kirby's other CHAMBER OF DARKNESS script, "The Monster", with a more complicated history, was covered in this post.

Published 1970

Saturday, June 04, 2005

[Video] Thundarr - City of Evil

See this earlier post for more background on THUNDARR.

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"City of Evil" is a second season episode, opening with Thundarr and company chasing an evil wizard to retrieve a guantlet of power. The gauntlet is the most Kirbyesque element of the episode, with one close-up that seems to be taken straight from Kirby's design. I'll try to get a screen capture of it. Anyway, they defeat the wizard and return the gauntlet to its rightful owner, but the wizard then finds a shrunken city full of scientists and plans to use the power of the gauntlet to restore the city and rule the world. Another good Kirbyesque element in the episode shows up later when the shrunken residents of the city attack in tiny flying sleds.

Fun episode, with some clever ideas and neat visuals.

[Video] Prisoners of Gravity - Kirby episode

PRISONERS OF GRAVITY was a half-hour TV show hosted by Rick Green that was produced for the public television station TVOntario from 1989 to 1994 and discussed various topics from comic books and science fiction. In 1993 they ran a full show devoted to Jack Kirby.

The highlights of the episode are obviously the clips from an interview with Kirby. He looks a lot frailer than he did in the earlier interviews I've seen, and talks a bit more hesitatingly, but he still seems sharp and seems to enjoy talking about his experiences. He talks about his childhood, the creation of Captain America, his interest in mythic gods and his importance of the love of his family.

The show also has clips with various other creators talking about Kirby (full list below). Especially nice was the clip of Will Eisner telling the oft-repeated (including in Eisner's THE DREAMER) story about Kirby standing up to the mob towel service back in the Eisner/Iger studio days. Max Allan Collins also tells a nice story about getting to play his tribute to Kirby song "King Jack" with his band Seduction of the Innocent for the Kirbys in San Diego. It's a nice selection of clips giving a range of reactions to Kirby and his influence.

Repeats of the program currently run in Canada on BookTV, although it's an edited version to allow for commercials, so part of the Kirby interview is removed in thie episode. I know the show has been syndicated to American markets in the past, although I don't know if it is currently. They also used ciips from the Kirby interview on a few later episodes.

Producer Mark Askwith singles out his Kirby interview as one of his favourites, and talks about the experience, over on this retrospective article about the series.

A full episode guide is available, and contains this original episode description.


This week's episode of Prisoners of Gravity pays tribute to Jack Kirby, the man whose dynamic art style redefined superhero comics when he co-created Captain America in 1941. In the early 1960's Jack Kirby and Stan Lee created The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk and Thor -- characters who now form the core of the Marvel Comics Universe. Kirby and his work are praised by Will Eisner, creator of The Spirit; Walt Simonson, the writer/artist who inherited Thor and The Fantastic Four at Marvel Comics; and Scott McCloud, writer/artist of Zot! Also featuring comic book creators Max Allan Collins (writer, Ms. Tree), Kevin Eastman (co-creator, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Len Wein (writer, The Uncanny X-Men), Dave Gibbons (artist, Watchmen), with Canadian fantasy writer Charles de Lint (Spiritwalk) and science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany (Dhalgren).

A transcript of just the Kirby interview parts of the show was printed in TJKC #14 (reprinted in COLLECTED JKC #3).

Friday, June 03, 2005

[Video] BOB episode 15 - "You Can't Win"

BOB was a short-lived series starring Bob Newhart that ran from 1992 to 1993. During the first season, Newhart played a veteran comic book artist, Bob MaKay, returning to the industry to draw a revival of his character Mad Dog (the comic book angle and most of the supporting cast was dropped for the brief second season before the series was cancelled for good).

The 15th episode, broadcast on January 29, 1993, was titled "You Can't Win" and had the cast attend a comic industry awards presentation, the fictional "Busters", and featured several real world comic creators in cameo roles, including Jack Kirby (the others were Sergio Aragones, Bob Kane, Mel Keefer, Mell Lazarus, Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri).

In Kirby's cameo, he's introduced as the creator of Captain America by Lazarus and shown, wearing a tuxedo, rising from his seat (with Roz Kirby sitting next to him). Later he's shown at the podium, with a sign showing his signature and Captain Victory behind him, announcing one of the fictional characters as the winner for best cover artist. The Kirbys are also placed so they can be seen in the background of several shots of the table of the show cast.

Who's Who #4 - Challengers of the Unknown

Kirby provides a single page for this issue of DC's character database, his major 1950s project at DC, the Challengers. I like the composition of this one, in particular the figure of Rocky in the foreground and the various creatures they fought in the background.

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Karl Kesel inked this piece.

Published 1985

[Video] The Masters of Comic Book Art

This 1987 documentary directed by Ken Viola features interviews with ten comic book artists. Kirby is the third of them, with a one minute introduction by Harlan Ellison followed by four minutes of Kirby talking, with a mix of Kirby artwork and video of Kirby speaking on the screen.

It's a fun but far too brief interview, very interesting especially for those of us who didn't get a chance to meet him. He talks about his motivations in coming up with the new and different, things that hadn't been done in comics before, to generate sales, and the biblical inspirations behind Galactus and the Silver Surfer. As he said, he was "a guy that lives with a lot of questions", and while he didn't come up with any answers to the big ones, he explored them in comics better than anyone.

Well worth checking out if you can as probably the most easily available video of Kirby, as well as such odd things as Ditko doing a voice-over about his beliefs over some Mr. A artwork.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Justice, Inc. #2 - The Monster Bug

More adventures of the pulp hero Richard Benson, the Avenger, as scripted by Denny O'Neil and drawn by Kirby to fulfil his contract late in his DC stint. As I mentioned before, this is my favourite of those "filler" bits that Kirby did.

This story continues from THE SHADOW #5, with the unfortunately named villain Colonel Sodom who escaped in that issue. I'm not sure if this is adapted from an original pulp novel or not, but it does introduce Justice, Inc. agent Fergus MacMurdie, who was requested in the letter column. The story involves a virus that turns people into monsters, which gives Kirby an excuse for some monsters and action.

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Fun fast-moving story in the pulp tradition, although it ends kind of abruptly.

Mike Royer inks the 18-page story and Al Milgrom inks Kirby on the cover.

Published 1975