“I Worked For The Fence” (k033)

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Posted in K100.

“I Worked For The Fence” is a 13-page Simon&Kirby crime story from Prize’s HEADLINE COMICS #28 [1948].

The “I” of the title is narrator Monica Bell, a failed show-girl, who is about to go back home from the big-city when she finds her suitcase has been switched with one full of jewels. Remembering a co-worker’s mention of a fence he dealt with, “Buyer Busch”, she takes the jewels to him, finding out she was set-up by him as a likely prospect for a “switcher” as he explains the inner workings of his operation. She takes the job and makes some easy switches, and then works as a buyer at the racetrack. She’s spotted by a private investigator, who she quickly falls in love with him, but almost gets caught when her next buy turns violent.

She tried to quit but finds she’s already in too deep, but is rescued by her new beau, and is now serving her time in jail, determined to live life straight when she gets out. Because, if you haven’t learned by now, Crime Never Pays.

Very enjoyable comics here, with a lot of story about how Monica gets drawn into the life of crime, attracted by the glamour but eventually having misgivings.  The background in how the fencing operation works is well done, with “Buyer Busch” playing up the charming rogue routine when it serves him. The investigator who rescues her also has some great dialogue. “You’re just the mixed-up kind of dame who takes a flyer on a racket for some fast dough and winds up in a fix! Well, you’re in a fix — now listen closely and do what I tell you! You owe it to that dead policeman!”.

https://www.comics.org/issue/127900/#374747
TEEN-AGED DOPE SLAVES AND REFORM SCHOOL GIRLS [1989]
THE SIMON AND KIRBY LIBRARY – CRIME [2011]

“Enter, The Avengers” (k032)

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“Enter, The Avengers” is a 20-page Kirby story from X-MEN #9 [1965], inked by Chic Stone, who inked most of Kirby’s work for one year in mid-1960s, most of it quite attractive. This is also around the time that crossovers became even more frequent at Marvel. This month also had Thor meet the Hulk, Spider-Man meet the Human Torch and the Avengers fighting the FF villain the Mole Man in their own book.

In this story the X-Men are summoned to Europe by Professor X, who is hunting down the villain Lucifer, the man who cost him the use of his legs in some hinted-at story that wouldn’t be told until after Kirby stopped drawing the book. The Avengers also wind up in the same region, apparently thanks to Thor’s hammer detecting evil rays or something. Yeah, I don’t know what that’s all about, but something has to lead to the crossover.

The Professor finds Lucifer, but finds out that he’s rigged a bomb to explode if his heartbeat stops, so he mentally orders the X-Men to stop the Avengers from interfering. So of course, they fight, which has some entertaining interplay with a lot of characters to choreograph.

Eventually Professor X communicates with Thor and convinces him that they should let the X-Men handle this, and the team re-joins the Professor to defuse the bomb. And for some reason the Professor then lets Lucifer go now that he knows he can be defeated. So much for Xavier’s vow earlier to make sure he never menaces humanity again.

This is a solid story with a few very amusing scenes, like the tourist who runs into both teams.

https://www.comics.org/issue/18909/#141897
X-MEN ANNUAL #1 [1970]
MIGHTY MARVEL TEAM-UP THRILLERS [1983]
MARVEL MASTERWORKS #3 [1987]
MARVEL MILESTONE EDITION – X-MEN NO. 9 [1993]
X-MEN – THE EARLY YEARS #9 [1995]
ESSENTIAL UNCANNY X-MEN #1 [1999]
GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #3 [2005]
MARVEL VISIONARIES – JACK KIRBY #2 [2006]
MARVEL MASTERWORKS – THE X-MEN #1 [2009]
X-MEN OMNIBUS #1 [2009]
X-MEN VS. AVENGERS [2010]
X-MEN VS. AVENGERS – FANTASTIC FOUR [2011]
X-MEN EPIC COLLECTION – CHILDREN OF THE ATOM [2014]
KING-SIZE KIRBY [2015]

 

“The Cat People” (k031)

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“The Cat People” is a 6-page Simon&Kirby horror story from Prize’s BLACK MAGIC #27 [Vol. 4 No. 3] [1953].

George Gates goes to visit an old friend after a long time away in Europe, which ended in an extended hospital stay. He then freaks out when his friend’s kids are playing the string game cat’s cradle, and tells the story of his recent time in Spain, when he got lost and was invited to stay the night in the remote cavern home of an old woman and her beautiful daughter. As you’d gather from the title, they turn out to be able to transform into cats, using a spell cast by the original version of the cat’s cradle game. He barely escapes with his life, and not untouched.

A nice little story with an especially well done bit of adventure in the chase scene. The cat-like faces of the women are well done,

https://www.comics.org/issue/10906/#681914
BLACK MAGIC #2 [1974]
THE JACK KIRBY OMNIBUS #2 [2013]
THE SIMON AND KIRBY LIBRARY – HORROR [2014]

“The War That Never Ended” (k030)

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“The War That Never Ended” is a 6-page Green Arrow story by Jack Kirby published in ADVENTURE COMICS #255 [1958]. The writing is by Dave Wood, possibly co-plotted or re-written by Kirby, inks are by Jack Kirby, possibly with some assistance from Roz Kirby. Kirby did 11 Green Arrow stories during his 1950s run at DC, which are fairly entertaining, but compromised by DC’s reluctance to deviate too much from their established house style, or do multi-chapter stories. They are among the last major examples of Kirby inking his own work.

In this story, Green Arrow and Speedy are flying to Japan when their plane goes down in a storm.  Their liferaft ends up on an island occupied by Japanese soldiers who have been out of communication for thirteen years and think the war is still going on. They capture Green Arrow and force him to use his arrow technology to design weapons to attack a US naval fleet out on maneuvers.

Six pages (actually a bit less, with DC’s format then having a large logo, usually a splash panel showing a scene from later in the story and an advertisement on the last page) isn’t much to work with, but this story does manage to have a nice battle against sharks, several good action scenes and some very nice rendering of some of Green Arrow’s fairly ridiculous weaponry. The story also has a few similarities to a story published four years later by another company.

https://www.comics.org/issue/14780/#120044
THE GREEN ARROW BY JACK KIRBY [2001]
SHOWCASE PRESENTS GREEN ARROW #1 [2006]
THE JACK KIRBY OMNIBUS #1 [2011]

“Different” (k029)

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“Different” is a 14-page romance story by Simon&Kirby from YOUNG ROMANCE #30 [Vol 4 No. 6] [1951]. It’s unfortunate that the romance comics are probably the least reprinted genre of Kirby’s career, with thousands of pages never reprinted (and even more never in decent colour). Of those I’ve read this is probably my favourite, a powerful and mature story about prejudice in post-war America.

This story is narrated by Irma Williams, daughter of a furniture salesman who has moved his family to the small town. Her family finds the people there very friendly, and quickly falls in love, only to find the facade collapsing when people find out that the family has changed its name from Wilheim.

A very densely plotted and well scripted story, ending with a promise of hope but no easy answers. While the plot doesn’t allow for the over-the-top action scenes that many of these stories feature, you do get a great variety of characters, lots of great clothing and crystal clear body language and facial expressions that reinforce the story.

I especially like this bit of narration:

“I looked at these people whose community life we were to share, and I liked what I saw… they were warm, considerate, god-fearing folk! Even now, after all they have done to me, I marvel at the vileness that lives inside them, that was part of them all the time…”

https://www.comics.org/issue/225738/#1029091
REAL LOVE [1988]

“The Menace Of The Ancient Vials” (k028)

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“The Menace Of The Ancient Vials” is a 24-page Jack Kirby story featuring the Challengers of the Unknown, first published in SHOWCASE #12 [1958], the last of four SHOWCASE issues of the feature, which led directly to the on-going Challs series a few months later. Kirby would continue to draw the series for eight issues for an even dozen issues.  In the through-line of Kirby’s career it’s an interesting link between the kid gang books of the 1940s and some of the super-hero teams of the 1960s. It was written with Dave Wood, and I think at one time or another it’s been credited to every inker who worked on Kirby’s work in that era. DC’s opinion in recent reprints seems to be George Klein.

The Challengers begin the story in flight in pursuit of the gang of Karnak. The criminals take refuge in the isolated island home of an archaeologist doing experiments on some ancient vials he found. As the Challengers approach, Karnak has his men drink the contents of the first vial, turning them into giants who go out and fight and are defeated by the Challs.

Two other vials release a fire monster and a sea monster, allowing Karnak to escape back to the mainland with the two remaining vials, one of which creates fifty clones of him which go on a crime wave. The Challs track down the real Karnak, who tries to escape using the final vial, which turns out just to be an antidote for the previous one.

The plot this time, especially the ending, is kind of a letdown, but along the way there are some cool things for Kirby to draw, especially the flame monster.

https://www.comics.org/issue/14184/#116048
CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN #77 [1971]
CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN ARCHIVES #1 [2003]
SHOWCASE PRESENTS CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN #1 [2006]
SHOWCASE PRESENTS SHOWCASE #1 [2012]
CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN BY JACK KIRBY [2012]

“The Death Wish Of Terrible Turpin” (k027)

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“The Death Wish Of Terrible Turpin” is a 23-page story by Jack Kirby from THE NEW GODS #8 [1972], inked and lettered by Mike Royer.

An excellent Fourth World story, 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.

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 common ancestry (which had only been confirmed the previous issue).

The Lightray/Orion interaction is great in this issue, too, including the last scene in the issue:

“You saw my face!!”
“I saw scars — both old and new — taken in the cause of New Genesis!”
“You’re a good friend, Lightray.”

https://www.comics.org/issue/25006/#170690
NEW GODS #4 [1984]
JACK KIRBY’S NEW GODS [1998]
JACK KIRBY’S FOURTH WORLD OMNIBUS #3 [2007]

-Link- Kirby wins Finger Award

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Posted in Links.

Congratulations to Jack Kirby on being awarded a 2017 Bill Finger Award for his long history  of comic book writing. Mark Evanier has the details here.

“With A Nation Against Him” (k026)

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“With A Nation Against Him” is a 17-page Jack Kirby story from MACHINE MAN #7 [1978], inked and lettered by Mike Royer and coloured by Petra Goldberg.

After he saved the world from the invasion of Ten-For over the last few issues, this issue starts with Machine Man hauled in front of a Congressional committee, which now has to decide what to do about the federal order to destroy all of the X-Series robots. In the meantime, MM is released in the custody of Dr. Spaulding, and wins over a hostile crowd by stopping a pickpocket. Oh, fickle humanity. Out in the open, Machine Man is attacked by a larger clumsy robot sent by an inventor out for publicity.

Later, Spaulding is kidnapped, and Machine Man surrenders to a waiting helicopter in exchange, ending the issue prisoner of a criminal organization that wants to copy his design. In the meantime, various political maneuvering goes around thanks to his disappearance, with his longtime nemesis Colonel Kragg surprisingly speaking in his defense.

A very nice issue with a lot of plot. Some interesting storytelling bits, including a page with vignettes in odd shaped panels of people reacting to MM vanishing and a very nice sequence of MM leaping into a missile silo.

https://www.comics.org/issue/32698/#200635
MACHINE MAN BY KIRBY AND DITKO COMPLETE COLLECTION [2016]

“Lest We Forget” (k025)

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“Lest We Forget” is a 20-page Kirby story from CAPTAIN AMERICA #112 [1969], inked by George Tuska and lettered by Artie Simek.

So, the story goes, Jim Steranko takes over CAPTAIN AMERICA from Kirby with #110. Shortly thereafter, for whatever reason, Kirby’s asked to draw #112 on an extremely tight deadline. He’s told the cliffhanger to #111 had Captain America dying. Did they want him to bring Cap back to life? No, they wanted him to keep Cap dead.

And thus was created the Kirby comic that most closely resembles modern Marvel comics, a full issue where almost nothing happens.

The story is pretty much that Cap’s mask is fished out of the water, and he’s presumed dead, so Iron Man is informed. Iron Man then goes over Cap’s file, so we get short vignettes of Cap’s original WWII adventures and villains, the classic retro-fitted “death of Bucky” bit with Zemo, Cap’s thawing out courtesy of Namor and scenes from his adventures of the previous few years, including such villains as MODOK, Batroc and others.

So the story is light, it does at least look really good. George Tuska inks, I think the only other work he did with Kirby was finishes on some Cap stories a few years before this, but he does a good job here, presumably on as tight a deadline as Kirby was.

https://www.comics.org/issue/22655/#160044
ESSENTIAL CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 [2002]
MARVEL MASTERWORKS #64 [2006]
CAPTAIN AMERICA OMNIBUS #1 [2011]
MARVEL MASTERWORKS – CAPTAIN AMERICA #3 [2014]