Archival Site 2004-2006 see See

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

And So It Begins...

Come on, no one ever dies forever in comics....

Thanks to the kind invitation of Randolph Hoppe, the Jack Kirby Comics Weblog will now be hosted by The Jack Kirby Museum. So I guess I can call it "The Official Kirby Weblog" now. Hopefully this will bring more traffic to both the weblog and the museum site (and there are some big plans for that site). There'll be some changes, as I figure out WordPress and the options it provides, but for the most part more of the same, an almost daily dose of Kirby from his long career (actually, I was just curious and it looks like I've posted about 590 Kirby publications in 566 days, so I slightly beat the daily goal I set for myself, though I did have to resort to a lot of covers to fill in the fallow times).

I'll probably pop by here for the next little while to post the occasional reminder and update, and leave the archives here for posterity (although old posts and comments have been imported to the new site, and I'll be upgrading some of the earlier scans over time). And a tip of the hat to Blogger/BlogSpot (still the home of my other two weblogs) for a year and a half of remarkably solid performance for a free service. I highly recommend it if you want to start a weblog of your own. Also to PhotoBucket and ImageShack for image hosting.

And thanks to everyone who read, linked, e-mailed and commented, and I hope to see you all at the new digs. Update your bookmarks and links to:

The Destiny of Blog and Man Alike

This might be my favourite Kirby page from Marvel in the 1960s. So much so I don't have the heart to tamper with the lettering.

That's the last one, I promise. Announcement (which some of you have figured out, in general terms at least) later today.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Hi No Tori

as the Japanese say.

Hey, did I hear right, someone decided to bring Bucky back? Funny, that...

Did you ever notice...

...the more pre-hyped a death in comics is, the less permanent it's likely to be?

I have.

Monday, April 03, 2006


R.I.P. Bucky Barnes. ::sniff::

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Saturday, April 01, 2006

In the final analysis...

The Word From High Is...

Not an April Fool's Day prank!

It is written that this month, a "weblog" must die!

The Black Racer is riding! Who will feel his touch?

Friday, March 31, 2006

Next Issue -- A Weblog Dies!!!

Stay tuned, true believers!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Strange Tales #129 - Cover

Surprisingly, I really like Chic Stone's inks on the Thing on this cover. I usually think his Thing inking is the weakest part of his FF inks from this era, but on this example (and a lot of the other covers) it seems to work better. Good cover overall, not the greatest villains ever, but the layout gives even them a nice sense of menace. I also really like the sense of depth Kirby gives the layouts.

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Published 1965

Monday, March 27, 2006

--Link-- Spirit World review

Steve Thompson takes a look at Jack Kirby's SPIRIT WORLD, one of the two black and white (or blue and white in this case) magazines that DC released in the early 1970s.

Champion Comics #9 - Cover

Dated July 1940 CHAMPION COMICS #9 from Harvey features Duke O'Dowd as the Human Meteor. More importantly, it has the distinction of being the first Jack Kirby penciled cover (when it was reprinted in THE COMPLETE JACK KIRBY v1 Greg Theakston described it as "mostly penciled by Kirby") and tied with BLUE BOLT #2 from Novelty Press as his first collaboration with Joe Simon, who inked this cover.

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It's a nice dynamic piece, very open and clear, you can already see hints of the later trademark S&K style of clothing folds and muscles.

Published 1940

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Journey Into Mystery #92 - Cover

Another Thor cover from before Kirby took over the interiors for the series full-time. I always like the way Kirby poses Loki, always very confident and sinister.

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The Kirby Checklist credits this one to George Roussos, but I'm not sure about that one. I'm going to have to compare it to some other Roussos from the period.

Published 1963

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Stupid question

Was Fin Fang Foom coloured orange or green in the first printing of his story in STRANGE TALES #89? I know he's green on the cover, but can anyone confirm the interior?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Showcase Presents The House of Mystery #1 - The Negative Man

First published in HOUSE OF MYSTERY #84 [1959], then reprinted in HOUSE OF MYSTERY #194 [1971], now the 8-page "The Negative Man" is reprinted in SHOWCASE PRESENTS THE HOUSE OF MYSTERY #1, along with 538 other pages of comics from the first 21 issues of the series edited by Joe Orlando from 1968 to 1971.

In this story, two scientists build a miniature town to test their power transmission through radio waves device. A loose watch straps makes all the energy go through one of the men, creating a negative energy duplicate of him.

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The negative being goes on a rampage, until the original scientist plans to sacrifice himself to destroy it. Fortunately for him, what he didn't know was the secret of the negative being which made it afraid of him.

I really like what I've read of the Kirby stories from DC in this period, and it looks really sharp in this book (except for the enlarged gutters they would put in reprints back in the early 1970s). That first panel in the scan is just really evocative and does a great job of capturing movement on a comic page.

Great book overall, too, maybe my favourite book in DC's new SHOWCASE PRESENTS line so far, thanks to the sheer variety of great artists from that era, with much better reproduction than the stories got the first time around.

Published 2006

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My Own Romance #75 - Cover

I think there was some rule that said Kirby had to do at least one artist/model themed romance cover for every publisher he did romance comics for. This is the one from Marvel, featuring a very leggy model making a play for the artist in the background, who seems to fill his studio with a lot of sexy women. What would Roz have thought if Kirby tried that?

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Inked by Colletta.

Published 1960

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Thor #253 - Cover

Another of Kirby's many covers for various Marvel books in the mid-1970s, this one inked by John Verpoorten with some Romita credited as well. Ulik is a pretty cool villain from the 1960s, so it's good to see him again, epecially with those crazy eyes. And the good old "ominous shadow" layout is nice, especially with that texture on the rocky surface.

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Published 1976

New Kirby - Marvel Visionaries Jack Kirby v2

Shipping to comic stores this week is MARVEL VISIONARIES - JACK KIRBY v2, almost 350 pages of Kirby reprints, some never seen since their original publication. Contains selections from:

Captain America Comics #1; Marvel Mystery Comics #23; Yellow Claw #4; Strange Tales #89, 114; Two-Gun Kid #60; Love Romances #103; X-Men #9; Tales of Suspense #59; Sgt. Fury #13; Fantastic Four #57-60; Not Brand Echh #1; Thor #154-157; Devil Dinosaur #1.

My impression of the choice of contents was posted here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

--Link-- Self promotion

Yeah, linking to my own other weblog, how gauche.

Inspired by comments on a recent post, I've started a little gallery of creators being credited on comic book covers prior to 1980. Of course, most of the examples I know off-hand are Kirby (Don't Ask! Just Buy It!) and S&K, but there are some other interesting ones. Let me know about the many I probably missed.

Mister Miracle #17 - Murder Lodge

Scott, Barda and Shilo stop by an out-of-the-way lodge while their car is being repaired, and it turns out to be filled with death-traps, trick-beds that flip you into trap doors and the like. Fortunately, while Scott and Barda are caught unawares, Shilo manages to escape the traps and use some of the training he's gotten from Scott and Barda to rescue them.

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Then it gets weird as we find out the intended targets of the trap were "The Tricky Trio", mobsters who look a lot like out heroes, so Scott&Co. have to take out both the innkeeper (who makes a business of offering sanctuary to criminals on the run and then double-crossing them) and their doppelgangers before calling in the police.

A nice diversion, the series was mostly treading water for a few issues right before the end, and I thought having Scott and Barda getting taken so easily was a kind of transparent excuse to give Shilo the spotlight, but otherwise it has some good bits, in particular the weird twist with the doppelgangers.

Mike Royer inks the cover and 20-page story.

Published 1974

Monday, March 20, 2006

Marvel Two-In-One #25 - Cover

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, and is fun to see him with all those other mostly non-Kirby characters he was teamed with.

I have to say, though, that's some awkward positioning on the rope bridge, with Fist and Ben having their legs crossing. I do like the Kirby flames, with the obligatory crackling energy bits.

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Upcoming Kirby - The Artist Within

Thought this would be worth at least a mention, although obviously the Kirby is only 1% of the book. He is there on the cover, though.

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by Greg Preston

The culmination of more than fifteen years of photography by renowned photographer Greg Preston, this book is a living history of the men and women who have shaped the imaginations of countless millions of people around the world through their work in the fields of animated cartoons, comic books, comic strips, and editorial cartooning. The list of artists includes such luminaries as Frank Miller, Al Hirschfeld, Joe Barbera, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Moebius, Walter and Louise Simonson, and many more, all in photographs exclusive and shot expressly for this book.

Publication Date: Jul 12, 2006
Format: Hard cover, 216 pages, b&w, 100 photographs, 100 illustrations, 12 1/2" x 11 1/2"
Price: $39.95
ISBN: 1-59307-561-8

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Upcoming Kirby - Galactic Bounty Hunters

The long-planned Lisa Kirby / Mike Thibodeaux GALACTIC BOUNTY HUNTERS project, with some characters created by Jack Kirby (including Captain Victory), finally has a publishing home announced, some start-up in New York called Marvel, and should be out as a six-issue series starting this summer. Don't know how much actual Jack Kirby art there'll be in it.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

--Link-- New S&K Blog

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLong time readers know that one of the biggest gaps in this weblog is my lack of access to the bulk of the Simon&Kirby material, in particular from the post-war period to when the team split in the mid-1950s. Harry Mendryk solves that problem by giving me a new Simon & Kirby blog to point you to, where you'll learn a lot about their work together, as well as the many other fine artists who worked for the busy S&K studio, plus work from other time periods. Harry's got access to some amazing first hand research material, and the first few posts already have a lot on editing in the S&K books and the scripting technique than can be seen on some early 1960s Marvel art.

So give it a read, bookmark it and spread the word.

Fantastic Four #97 - The Monster From the Lost Lagoon

Even on vacation, the FF can't avoid challenging the unknown, this time Reed is asked by the navy to investigate some ship sinkings and sea monster sightings. The boys finally end up in an underground tunnel with an amphibious creature, who it turns out is a crashed alien, unable to communicate with them and trying to save his mate. So we learn a lesson about the importance of communication. I have to say, though, Reed is a little unfair to Ben, saying he attacked the alien without provocation, when in fact the alien had sunk ships, almost crushed Reed's arm and almost drowned the three of them. Anyway, the alien leaves, never to be seen again (until Roy Thomas brought him back as part of a sprawling cosmic storyline, then later Mark Gruenwald set a story among his race, Tom DeFalco complicated it all in a story that made no sense and Mark Waid took him back to the basics. Okay, none of that actually happened...).

Still a nice tale with a lot of good character bits (Johnny pining for Crystal and playing with Franklin, Ben saving the others) among a string of single issue stories.

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Frank Giacoia inks the 20-page story and the cover.

Published 1970

Friday, March 17, 2006

Invaders #16 - Cover

INVADERS, THE #16, 1977. Inked by Joe Sinnott. Hm, Master Man. There's a Roy Thomas villain for you. I like the Kirby rocks and castle in the background there.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Thor #255 - Cover

THOR #255, 1977. Inked by John Verpoorten, with some re-drawing from the Bullpen. Because what, Kirby's Thor doesn't look like Thor? Weird. Nice to see the Warriors Three. And of course the original Thor foes, the Stone Men from Saturn.

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New Kirby - Kirby Collector, Gi/Ant-Man

Now available, THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR #45, 80 big pages about the past and future.

Apparently also out now is the Ant-Man/Giant-Man volume of MARVEL MASTERWORKS, containing every full story Kirby did for the character, as well as most of his covers. Some of this is reprinted in colour for the first time ever.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

--Link-- Kirby Museum update

A few updates on the Kirby Museum website, including a short video of Kirby's cameo on the 1970s Hulk TV show and the start of their Original Art Digital Archive. Pass the word on the latter to anyone you know who owns any Kirby original art.

Daredevil #5 - Cover

DAREDEVIL #5, 1964. Wally Wood took over (and slightly redesigned, before the big redesign) DD with this issue, and inked Jack Kirby's cover. The Matador looks cool, although like a lot of DD villains he seems to be a result of trying too hard to create a memorable villain like Spidey and the FF had.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Upcoming Kirby - Marvel in June 2006

Crazy month for Marvel on Kirby reprints, with lots of early 1960s westerns in various formats (presumably lots of overlap), the last ESSENTIAL FF and a rather expensive complete ETERNALS hardcover. And that CHAMPIONS collection should have a single Kirby cover, for a more trivial entry.

Written by STAN LEE
Saddle up, buckaroos! It's time for the Marvel Masterworks to tame the wild, wild West with the one and only Rawhide Kid! Back before Stan "The Man" and "King" Kirby spun stories of sensational super heroes, they told the tale of a young man who bore two Colt six-shooters and his mission to bring law to the American frontier. After his Uncle Ben Bart was killed at the hands of outlaws, Johnny Bart made it his personal mission to bring justice to the town of Rawhide.
Packed full of shootouts and showdowns, renegades and rustlers, guns and girls galore, these Western yarns will be sure to please you in the Mighty Marvel Manner! We guarantee you won't be able to hold on to your ten-gallon hat when you read the tale of the Terrible Totem, the Kid's battle against the bank robbing Bat, and the war with Wolf Waco! Lasso your copy today, True Believer!
Collecting RAWHIDE KID #17-25.
248 PGS $49.99
ISBN: 0-7851-2117-X

Written by STAN LEE
Lee and Kirby spin the classics with characters and concepts that remain among Marvel's mainstays today! After being lorded over in Latveria by Doctor Doom, the FF face a new level of grudge match when the Thing is tapped for the fighting arena of gangster Skrulls! Featuring the enigmatic Inhumans, the Frightful Four, the Mad Thinker and other enduring opponents! Guest-starring Magneto and the Sub-Mariner! Plus: classic invasions from under the earth and under the sea!
Collects FANTASTIC FOUR #84-110 and ANNUAL #7-8.
568 PGS $16.99
ISBN: 0-7851-2162-5

Written by JACK KIRBY
Penciled by JACK KIRBY
"The Gods Are Coming Back!" Jack Kirby reveals a secret history of heroes and horrors as humanity's cousins, the Eternals and the Deviants, vie to inherit the Earth! It's a time of Titans, Terror and Time Travel - as only the King could conceive! Guest-starring the Incredible Hulk (or at least an unreasoning facsimile thereof)! Collects ETERNALS #1-19 and ANNUAL #1.
392 PGS. $75.00
ISBN: 0-7851-2205-2
Trim Size: Oversize

Written by STAN LEE
Is the Rawhide Kid really a cold-blooded killer? Why do they fear his guns from Abiline to Tombstone? See how the Kid became an "outlaw" in RAWHIDE KID #17 (August 1960). Plus: What is the strange secret of Matt Hawk? Find out in TWO-GUN KID #60 (November 1962).
48 PGS. $3.99

Written by DAN SLOTT
A modern day adventure with SHE-HULK reminds the TWO-GUN KID of one of his most fraught-filled yarns of yesteryear! So saddle up, pards, and ride with the Wild West Avenger as he sets his sights on some rustlers, but finds himself face-to-fang with critters that are neither man nor beast! It's a timeless twin-barreled tale a' terror comin' your way courtesy a' Dan Slott and Eduardo Barreto! Plus! A classic Kirby RAWHIDE KID tale!
48 PGS. $3.99

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usCHAMPIONS CLASSIC VOL. 1 TPB
Cover by GIL KANE
Okay, a god, a demon, a spy and two mutants walk into... resulting in some of the strangest scenarios of the '70s! It's gods vs. heroes in the City of Angels! With mad scientists, Russian super-spies, and guest-stars from Marvel's western and horror eras! Plus: the secrets of the Black Widow! Featuring Hawkeye! Collects CHAMPIONS #1-11.
208 PGS. $19.99
ISBN: 0-7851-2097-1

Tales to Astonish #64 - Cover

TALES TO ASTONISH #64, 1965. Dick Ayers inks on this one. I'm not a big fan of the split-cover design in general, so I'm not surprised that it only lasted for a year on ASTONISH and SUSPENSE before going to alternating leads. This is one of the more effective ones, the Giant-Man half in particular is a nice bit of Kirby foreshortening, and I always like Attuma.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Avengers #22 - Cover

AVENGERS #22, 1965. A nice Wally Wood inked cover, from when Wood was briefly the interior inker on the book over Don Heck pencils. Great image of the Enchantress there. Not a lot of major female villains from Marvel in the 1960s, but she's probably the best of them.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Police Trap #4 - Cover

POLICE TRAP #4, 1955. Boy, that looks dangerous position for a cop to find himself in, doesn't it? One of the books of S&K's Mainline company. I always wondered why they didn't add that "Another Simon/Kirby Smash Hit" stamp until several issues in. Also, that giant comics code stamp blocking the logo sure is an eyesore.

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True Bride-To-Be Romances #17 - Cover

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. Not one of my favourites among the Harvey covers Kirby did, a lot of them seem a bit dull and pretty much by-the-book, though a few work well.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Black Magic #9[v2n3] - Cover

There's an untrustworthy guy if I ever saw one. A nice dramatic cover to contrast with the more explicit horror that's more common on these BLACK MAGIC covers, and a good showcase for the inking on the S&K covers. A bit heavy on the text, though.

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Published 1952

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Captain America #203 - Alamo II

Cap's search for the missing Falcon and Leila brings him and Texas Jack Muldoon to an asylum transported to another dimension, where he finds his friends without their memories and the small human colony on an asteroid under attack from alien monsters. Brother Wonderful and the Inquisitor, leaders of the Night People, open up a portal to Earth, planning to send the monsters there, but Cap is able to trick them and return the humans to Earth and blow up the asteroid as the creatures approach.

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A minor story during Kirby's final run on Cap, but the art is really pretty, including the alien creatures who look like something out of a 1950s monster masterwork.

Frank Giacoia inks the 17-page story and cover.

Published 1976

This whole story, and much more, was recently reprinted in Captain America: Bicentennial Battles.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Upcoming Kirby - Check it out

The things that come up when you look up Kirby on Amazon...

I'll post a link to the TwoMorrows site when they have something on that book.

Also, not yet mentioned here, Marvel has ESSENTIAL FF #5, finishing Kirby's run and beyond, the complete ETERNALS (#1-#19 and Annual) in a $75 book, and a second volume completing Kirby's BLACK PANTHER (plus the post-Kirby issue wrapping up the Kiber story) in the coming months.

Champions #6 - Cover

Kirby's only cover for the short lived super-team, it's always nice to see another one of those overhead cityscapes by Kirby, as well as a nice drawing of Hercules, plus a very 1970s villain. Inked by Frank Giacoia.

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Published 1976

Monday, March 06, 2006

Two-Gun Kid #65 - Cover

This is one of my favourite TWO-GUN KID covers, with a nice feeling of power and menace in the villain and some nice detail over in the fort. Dick Ayers inks this one.

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Published 1963

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Thor #175 - The Fall of Asgard

Thor is on Earth, tending to business like rounding up hijackers, while the Warriors Three and Balder are leaving the realm of the Norn Queen. Odin picks this time to go into the Odinsleep that he needs to retain his Odinpowers for another Odincycle, leaving the Odinrealm open for attack by the evil Odinson Loki, who gathers various Odinfoes like the storm giants.

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The page after this, a full page of the giants on the rampage, is gorgeous, by the way. Check it out if you have this issue.

Sif is able to contact Thor on Earth and get him to return to Asgard, and he and the various defenders of the realm battle the invaders, but not before Loki is able to get the Ring Imperial from the Allfather and take Sif prisoner, making him Thor and the other bow before him.

Bill Everett inks the 20-page story, the last of his brief run (with some possible assistance from John Verpoorten, see comments). It's kind of uneven compared to his others, although still better than most Thor inking. Some pages are great, but a few others seems stiff, maybe a bit rushed.

The cover is by Marie Severin, replacing the one Kirby did. The likely reason for the replacement is the the Kirby version (shown in TJKC #18) has Thor bowing before Loki, defeated, while the published version has him still defiant, so I guess someone decided the hero should look more heroic on the cover. Both versions do seem to use the same background of Asgard, though, and Severin does do a good Kirby (in fact, the original art boards to both versions shown in TJKC are signed by Kirby).

Published 1970

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Super Powers v2 #1 - Seeds of Doom

A year after the previous series, Kirby returns to the toy line inspired SUPER POWERS, which I think by this time was also part of the Super Friends cartoon, which I guess explains the Hall of Justice super-hero HQ in this issue. Anyway, Kirby doesn't write this series, just pencils. We open just after the events of "The Hunger Dogs", with Darkseid's rule overturned.

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He's able to find some of his most loyal servants, DeSaad, Kalibak and Steppenwolf (actually just "animated bodies" of them that he brought back to life) and escape to the moon, where they plan the conquest of Earth, which is where our various action figures, um, I mean, heroes, come in, splitting into teams to investigate five mystrious seeds which have appeared through the world, which seem to be digging to the Earth's core. J'onn J'onzz goes to England where he meets up with Aquaman to investigate one of the seeds. While there, they encounter DeSaad, and all of them are hurled back in time where they meet King Arthur.

Kind of a dull story, although the art does have a few points of interest, mostly a few of the scenes with Darkseid in the first half.

Greg Theakston inks the cover and 23-page story.

Published 1985

OMAC #3 - A Hundred Thousand Foes

The issue opens with OMAC enjoying some virtual reality entertainment, battling a monster protecting the secrets of the giant talking skulls. He's pulled out of the "movie" to get his official credentials to act as a One Man Army on behalf of the faceless Global Peace Agents, but before he goes on his first official mission he's introduced to a couple applying to act as his parents, OMAC having forgotten his life as Buddy Blank. I'm always unclear on how creepy Kirby meant this stuff to be.

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OMAC is then sent on his mission to take down Marshal Kafka, a tyrant who has put together his own army of a hundred thousand. His jet is shot at on the way down, leaving him fighting from his chair until that's shot out from under him. He quickly gets through the Kafka's forces until he finally reaches the Marshal.

Like I said, a bit of a creepy beginning, followed by a quick high-action story. Kirby was throwing out the ideas fast in this series, a lot of which are never returned to.

D. Bruce Berry inks the cover and 20-page story.

Published 1975

Monday, February 27, 2006

Daring Mystery Comics #8 - Cover

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 guys, and even the gal in the inset.

Anyway, a book of the also-rans of the early Marvel line, the highlight of most of these guys careers has to be having Jack Kirby draw them on a cover just before he left Marvel the first time.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Champ Comics #18 - Cover

CHAMP COMICS #18, 1941. Another wartime cover for Harvey, this one signed with the "Jon Henri" pen-name. Don't try to think too much about how exactly the Liberty Lads got the jump on those Japanese pilots in mid-flight, much less how the Japanese pilots could attack Washington DC.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Marvel Super Action #3 - The Sleeper Strikes

This issue has an edited reprint of CAPTAIN AMERICA #102 (1968). One change made is right on the splash page, where a reference to the Lovin' Spoonful is changed to Blue Oyster Cult. How hip. Anyway, Cap still has the control key for the Fourth Sleeper from last issue, but doesn't know how to use it. He battles with the Red Skull's agents, and is rescued by Agent 13, and they go out in pursuit of the Sleeper. Lots of good fighting throughout, although the end is a bit abrupt. One of the two pages edited is just a splash of the destruction when the Sleeper attacks, but another is kind of crucial to the climax of the story, so was a pretty bad cut.

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Syd Shores inks the cover and edited-to-18-page story. There's also some of the usual meddling on the cover, moving figures slightly. I'm still not a huge fan of Shores' inks on Kirby during this time, and the linework of his that got lost the first time around suffers even more in the reprints.

Published 1977

Friday, February 24, 2006

World Around Us #31

Among Kirby's work for Gilberton published in 1961, in addition to his one full issue of CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED, were a few short bits in five issues of THE WORLD AROUND US. This issue's theme was Hunting, and Kirby contributed 12 pages, inked by Dick Ayers.

The Kirby starts on the title page, an image of some hunters getting ready to take down a bear with spears and arrows. The archer's pose in the foreground is especially nice.

Later in the issue is the 6-page "Early Hunters" chapter, which has a quick summary of a few thousand years of mankind, starting with hunting with clubs and wandering from place to place as hunter/gatherers, and then developing more complex weapons and hunting techniques. Then follows the discovery of farming, allowing for permanent villages, and domesticating animals.

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Following some non-Kirby stuff is the 5-page "An End to Slaughter", which starts with the story of Theodore Roosevelt, starting with a quick look at his buffalo hunting as a youth, bear hunting as President and his post-presidency African safari. The story then goes to Roosevelt's role in expanding the National Park system in the US and inspiring similar efforts around the world, and a look at protected lands in other countries and the importance of following hunting laws, getting proper licenses and all the rest.

This isn't a bad sample of Kirby's art, although clearly doing short vignettes, single panels on a theme, doesn't really play to his story-telling strengths. There are also a few bits every now and then in the art that just feel off, which are likely panels or parts of panels that the Gilberton folks had redrawn, either by Kirby or by another artist to meet their standards of accuracy. A few of the animals seem to suffer from this on Kirby's pages.

This issue also includes a lot of art by Sam Glanzman and a few pages by Pete Morisi, so is worth checking out for more than the Kirby.

Published 1961

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Star Spangled Comics #40 - Cover

STAR SPANGLED COMICS #40, 1945. Boy, is that a complicated flying machine for robbing a bank. If it actually works, you could sell the patent for more than a bank robbery would haul in, and not get beat up by a bunch of kids and a moonlighting cop.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

2001 - A Space Odyssey #5 - Norton of New York 2040 AD

This issue starts what is my favourite of Kirby's SPACE ODYSSEY series, with a tale of the near future. First we start with Harvey Norton, who participates in some live action super-hero roleplaying as White Zero in Comicsville. In the middle of the game he encounters the Monolith, which awakens a sense of wonder in him that makes the unreality of the game stand out in sharp contrast.

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Later he's at an artificial beach, opening his eyes to the fact that the whole world he lives in is just as fake as the game. "It's a comfortable Hades -- and not without beauty -- but is it enough for Harvey Norton?" is what he's driven to ask, and the answer is clearly no, as the Monolith appears again and pushes his curiosity in the direction of space, so that two years later Norton is in orbit around Neptune when an alien ship is detected, and they encounter a strange beautiful alien woman. Soon after they see her, their ship is confronted by a giant alien ship.

Wonderful story progression, echoing the original movie without mimicking any of the story beats, and a lot of thought clearly went into the "comfortable Hades" of the future that Norton was eventually driven to escape.

Mike Royer inks the cover and 17-page story.

Published 1977 AD

Boy Commandos #13 - Cover

BOY COMMANDOS #13 - 1945. Nothing like some patriotic propaganda late in the war, actually the final war-themed cover for the series. Of course, the boys would be coming home for stateside adventures soon, and had already lost one member for this cover.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Marvel Milestone Edition: X-Men #1 - X-Men

Another of Marvel's series of cover-to-cover reprints, this one of course the debut of the X-Men and their main villain, Magneto. It's a pretty compact first issue, with the characters first showing off their powers in a practice session, then introducing themselves to their newest member, Jean Grey. Soon after the first mutant menace that Professor X gathered them to defend mankind against makes his presence known.

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I always liked Magneto, I thought Kirby hit the ground running with him and Professor X, while the actual X-Men I thought took a few issues to get both their characters and body language right. Anyway, they manage to drive off Magneto, winning the admiration of the army. That wouldn't last...

Paul Reinman inks the 23-page story, and Sol Brodsky is usually credited with the inks on the cover, though that's hardly a consensus. This issue also includes two house-ads, one for a Spider-Man issue and one for SGT. FURY #3, interesting in that it promotes the book as having "the same inimitable style, by the same writer and artist" as the FF, without actually naming the writer or artist.

Published 1991

Saturday, February 18, 2006

New Kirby - Fury Masterworks

The SGT. FURY MASTERWORKS hardcover, including all of Kirby's full stories for the book (he did covers and a few interior pages in later issues) is out now. Have to say, I don't usually pick up Masterworks books, but I'm tempted by this one (if I didn't just pick up the TALES TO ASTONISH book I'd probably get it right away). If there isn't an ESSENTIAL FURY in the next year I'll probably get it.

Much more obscure, ESSENTIAL MOON KNIGHT should have a single Kirby cover among its 500+ pages. Might be worth picking up otherwise, if you like that kind of thing.

Silver Star #6 - The Angel of Death

Kirby concludes the series in this issue, where Darius Drumm first destroys his own world and his followers, and then flies off in his demonic form to scour the Earth.

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Brute force on the part of both Silver Star and the army fail to stop Drumm, but Silver Star is ultimately able to use a psychological attack.

This is a really mixed issue, with a few really good scenes but ultimately the climax is just too short, and falls right at the end so we never get to find out what happens next. The art is also kind of variable, it's almost hard to believe that Kirby drew it all around the same time, with some strong bits and other parts having all the flaws associated with Kirby's later work.

D. Bruce Berry inks the 20-page story and Mike Thibodeaux inks the cover.

Published 1984

Remember, this and more will be reprinted in the upcoming SILVER STAR GRAPHITE EDITION from TwoMorrows, with part of the proceeds going to the Kirby Museum.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Eternals #13 - Astronauts

Tode, leader of the Deviants, has decided that that big Celestial mothership out in orbit has to go, and sends up a giant bomb ship on a suicide mission. Meanwhile, NASA is also curious and sends up a shuttle to take photos of the ship. Meanwhile, the rest of the Eternals are busy in the Uni-Mind ritual, so Sprite is left to detect the danger and decides to enlist the help of the Forgotten One, a nameless Eternal exiled by Zuras for his pride and meddling in human affairs (and implied to be the source of various hero myths, I think he was made to be explicitly the source of the Gilgamesh story in later non-Kirby stories).

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Sprite creates a space-suit and ship for the Forgotten One and then the representatives of the three races of Earth converge on the ship of the One Above All, who acts quickly and efficiently by switching the crews of the three ships, letting them each fulfill their missions after a fashion.

I think these side-stories in this series are often better than the main action with Ikaris and the others. Kirby clearly had a vast mythology that he only started to explore, and this issue has a nice sense of wonder and discovery.

Mike Royer inks the cover and 17-page story.

Published 1977