“Growing Up With The Lost Ranger” (k004)

Posted in K100.

“Growing Up With The Lost Ranger” is a 20-page Jack Kirby story that appeared in CAPTAIN VICTORY AND THE GALACTIC RANGERS #12 [1983] from Pacific, with inks by Michael Thibodeaux, colours by Tom Luth and letters by Palle Jensen.

This is the second chapter of the three part origin of Captain Victory, where we find out that his grandfather was a mythic evil “Ultimate” god named Blackmass, who by the time Victory was a young boy was holding on to a life as a shadowy presence on the world of Hellikost. Young Victory escapes the final destruction of the planet on a cosmic glider (based on design known to his father).

Victory finds himself on a primitive battle-torn planet where he meets Captain Argas Flane, an old member of the Galactic Ranger on his final life, playing out an odd mission which seems to involve pushing the natives of the planet to rapidly evolve their technology in order to kill him. Victory spends years training with Flane before being sent away to join the Rangers.

A lot of things to love in this issue, in the grand scheme of Kirby. It’s unfortunate that the series only lasted one more issue, as it was really delivering some exciting work in the last few issues.



“The Meaning Of… Ragnarok” (k003)

Posted in K100.

“The Meaning Of… Ragnarok” is a 5-page Jack Kirby story that appeared as a back-up in THOR #127 [1966], part of a 49-part series of “Tales of Asgard” that were published in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY and THOR from 1963 to 1967.  It was inked by Vincent Colletta.

In the previous year, Odin had sent Thor and his fellow Asgardians were sent on a mission to find the source of a threat to Asgard which could bring about Ragnarok, the end of days. In this issue they’re summoned back to Asgard to witness the first half of a prophecy by the priestess Volla of what will happen in Ragnarok, from the endless storm to in-fighting and invasion, the destruction of the Rainbow Bridge and the ultimate battle of Thor and Loki, all just prelude to the emergence of the Midgard Serpent.

This is some pretty spectacular stuff, and it’s remarkable to think it’s just a prelude to the even more imaginative stuff in the next chapter.


“The Strange Aftermath Of The Kansas City Massacre” (k002)

Posted in K100.

“The Strange Aftermath Of The Kansas City Massacre” is an 8-page crime story by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon first published in Prize’s HEADLINE COMICS #26 [1947].

This story is based on the real life Kansas City Massacre, a botched attempt to free a prisoner being transported to Leavenworth which resulted in the death of four officers and the prisoner. The three perpetrators scatter, and we follow Verne Miller, who finds little support among the criminal brotherhood and has some close escapes from the cops until he meets his inevitable end (portrayed in a manner which doesn’t really match the historical record).

The S&K team did some great work on crime comics, which allowed them to explore the dark side of human nature, with the determined and unrepentant (but usually impeccable dressed, as you’d see in movies of the era) criminals dealing with sudden bursts of violence.

Kirby returned to the Kansas City Massacre story almost a quarter century later with a story for IN THE DAYS OF THE MOB #1 [1971].


“I Died A Thousand Times” (k001)

Posted in K100.

“I Died A Thousand Times” is an 8-page science fiction story that appeared in DC’s MY GREATEST ADVENTURE #16 [1957], drawn and possibly written by Jack Kirby, one of 30 such science/fantasy adventures Kirby did at DC in that era, while also doing Challengers and Green Arrow stories.

Overall that body of work is pretty minor in Kirby’s career, partly because it wasn’t available outside of the original anthology comics outside of a few scattered reprints until a few years ago, when all of them were collected with some other 1950s Kirby work at DC. And in some ways they’re Kirby not really working in an environment that encouraged all of his strengths, with the short stories not conducive to the grand themes and character work, and the DC house style not as open to the explosive action.  Still, most of the stories are solidly entertaining, with the occasional resonance with other Kirby work.

In this story, a deep-sea diver named Bob Perry has an accident which actually manages to briefly kill him, until he’s revived by artificial respiration. Right after that he finds a mysterious invitation to join the “Lonely Adventurers Club”, where he finds a scale model of his own accident, and finds that they are predicting, or causing, other accidents around the world in detailed models. After figuring this out, he becomes determined to stop them.

Some entertaining locales seen briefly in this story, from the underwater bits to the mountain climbing disaster orchestrated by the club.


Upcoming Kirby – BOY COMMANDOS v2


bcYou’d be forgiven if you thought that DC’s reprints of golden age Simon&Kirby comics in their vaults was going to remain incomplete with nothing after the three volumes (SANDMAN, NEWSBOY LEGION and BOY COMMANDOS) published in 2009/2010. Apparently not the case, as DC now has scheduled a second BOY COMMANDOS book in October. Someone appears to have mistakenly titled it as “Vol. 1” in all the available on-line listings, but the contents listing of “stories from Boy Commandos #3-5, World’s Finest Comics #10-13, and Detective Comics #74-83 and 85” make it clear that it picks up where the first book left off. There’s still quite a bit more Kirby left after this, enough for at least a third book, so hopefully they won’t wait another five years to continue.

2014 – A Kirby Odyssey


I guess the big Kirby event of the year was outside of the comics, the settlement between the Kirby family and Marvel that had the immediate visible effect of a co-creator credit appearing in many Marvel books. We’ll see in a few months if this also results in more prominent and more explicit credits in the films based on his creations.

In print, it was also a big year for Kirby:



Pretty tough choice for book of the year. I’d lean towards the S&K LIBRARY: HORROR from Titan, with a big chunk of prime 1950s Kirby, a lot of it never properly reprinted before.  The ART OF THE S&K STUDIO from Abrams isn’t far behind, though, with about 240 pages of Kirby work reproduced from the original art, plus another 120 pages by other S&K Studio artists. And certainly the NEW GODS ARTIST’S EDITION from IDW is worth a look if you can afford it. Jeremy Kirby’s JACK KIRBY: A PERSONAL LOOK is an interesting look into Kirby’s family life, with a large selection of never before seen photos, plus Jack Kirby’s manuscript “Frog Prince”. And of course a lot of interesting stuff in the two issues of THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR published in the year.

As usual, Marvel had a large number of Kirby reprints. Mostly stuff that has been reprinted multiple times before in whatever their latest format is (the newest being “Epic Collections”, colour softcovers featuring about 500 page runs of a title, numbered but published out of order).  I think the only substantial material not previously reprinted in a bookshelf format are the NOT BRAND ECHH stories, and those are currently only available in a $500 box set (the book will be released as a standalone in June, 2015). But the Marvel highlight, especially if you missed the prior hardcover, was obviously the DEVIL DINOSAUR collection.

As usual, you can check over here for an occasionally updated list of new releases, plus upcoming books.

Monster At My Window x3


Just for fun, three versions of one of my favourite Kirby/Ayers giant monster images.


That’s “A Monster At My Window” from TALES TO ASTONISH #34 [1962], the splash page of the story and the slightly touched up version on the cover of that issue, and a radically altered version (which kind of misses the point of the story) by John Romita from MONSTERS ON THE PROWL #29 [1974].



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Just got a copy of the Abrams published THE ART OF THE SIMON AND KIRBY STUDIO, a big 384-page book jammed with reproductions of the original artwork Joe Simon (and others) saved from the 1940s and 1950s, most of it by Jack Kirby, some by others in the studio like Mort Meskin, Leonard Starr and Bill Draut. Looking forward to going through it, but it’s already pretty clearly the Kirby book of the year, in what’s been a pretty good year. It’s especially good to see a lot of western (about 70 pages of BOYS’ RANCH and others) and romance work.

Here are a few additional images of the book from the publisher’s site.


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Jack Kirby - A Personal Look 2014 #[nn]Just got a copy of JACK KIRBY: A PERSONAL LOOK, the recent book by Jack Kirby’s grandson Jeremy. It’s available print-on-demand from Amazon, and I have to say, print-on-demand has come a long way in the last few years, especially in reproducing images. It looks a lot sharper than I expected.

There are two main components to the book. First it’s a photo album, with dozens of family photos, from the earliest photo of Jack Kirby they have through the war years and early days of comics through to photos with the grandchildren in the 1980s. You can see a sample of the photos on the original Kickstarter page for the book.

The bulk of the book is the original typewritten manuscript to a screenplay that Jack Kirby wrote, “Frog Prince”, a 99-page 3-act drama. There’s no hint about when it was written, I’m guessing maybe the 1950s, when you might see a one-hour standalone drama done for TV. Bits of it feel like WEST SIDE STORY, combined with what you’d expect one of Kirby’s romance or crime comics might be if he had more than a dozen pages to develop them. There are a few thematic connections you could make with some other Kirby work, especially Orion. I’m guessing the cigar-chomping diner owner is the role Kirby saw himself in. It’s definitely something different, but very Kirby, and it’s good to see it in a pure form (I think every excerpt of Kirby’s novel “The Horde” made public has been filtered and adapted by others instead of being Kirby’s original).

In other news, I just got shipping notification for my copy of THE ART OF THE SIMON AND KIRBY STUDIO, so hopefully that’ll be in my hands sometime next week.

Kirby credit update


inhumansSo apparently we now have the first tangible evidence of the Kirby family settlement with Marvel from a month ago, as several comics published this week include an explicit creator credit for characters that Kirby created in the 1960s, including the Inhumans, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men (in coming weeks we’ll probably see something in Thor, Hulk, Avengers, Iron Man and perhaps others). Previously the only regular creator credit appearing for Kirby in Marvel comics was for Captain America (with Joe Simon), ever since a settlement Simon negotiated about a decade ago.

We’ll see if this extends to a more visible and explicit credit to Kirby in films based on his creations.