-Link- Kirby wins Finger Award

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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]

“Hands Off Lucy” (k024)

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“Hands Off Lucy” is a 14-page romance story by Simon&Kirby from Prize’s YOUNG ROMANCE #20 [Vol 3 No. 8] [1950]. The romance books were in full swing at this point, with YOUNG LOVE having just been upgraded to monthly from bi-monthly, as this title had been a few months earlier.

Opening with the usual strong confessional title page, the story begins with a flashback to our hero Lucy as a child, where we see that Caesar was the local bully, as well as Lucy’s next-door neighbour. As they got older he tried to ask her out, but she wasn’t interested, until he called one time after a date she planned suddenly cancelled. Of course Caesar is as violent as ever, though not with her, and winds up very possessive of her, especially when an old flame returns to town, and Caesar finally gets his comeuppance as all bullies in comics eventually do.

A very nice story, with really powerful artwork from Kirby. Lots of chances for action thanks to Caesar’s bouts of violence, and great depictions of body language, facial expressions and backgrounds.

https://www.comics.org/issue/225733/#1121926

“The City Of Toads” (k023)

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“The City Of Toads” is the 17-page Kirby story from THE ETERNALS #8 [1977], inked by Mike Royer and coloured by Glynis Wein.

The focus in this issue switches mostly to the Deviants side of the vast cosmology Kirby was creating in this book, as we open with their leader Tode confronting the issue of a freak among the Deviants, known as the Reject, whose deformity is that he could pass for an Eternal or a human. Meanwhile, back in New York, Kro invites Thena to the Deviant city (while making some more comments about their past), while the other Eternals deal with Doctor Samuel’s curiosity about what’s he’s learning about the real nature of humanity. Kirby provides a few great views of the old Deviant city destroyed in an earlier battle with the Second Host of Space Gods as Kro and Thena approach the new Lemuria.

Thena is horrified by a lot of what she sees about how Deviant’s live, in particular how they treat those of their people who show instability in their genetic make-up. As the issue ends, the Reject is brought before the Deviant royalty to face combat with the monstrous Karkas.

It really is amazing the variety of characters Kirby was creating for this series, with some new twists in almost every issue. It’s a shame he didn’t get nearly enough time to explore it all.

https://www.comics.org/issue/30756/#193972
ETERNALS BY JACK KIRBY [2006]
ETERNALS BY JACK KIRBY #1 [2008]

“Devil’s War” (k022)

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“Devil’s War” is a 17-page Kirby story from DEVIL DINOSAUR #2 [1978], inked and lettered by Mike Royer, coloured by Petra Goldberg.

Were dinosaurs as smart as men? If their kind was known on Earth for 750 million years, one of them was bound to have learned something!”

Thus begins the second adventure of T. Rex Devil Dinosaur and his young companion Moon-Boy. As this issue begins, they almost fall into a trap of spikes in a pit laid by the Killer-Folk and their leader Seven Scars. They escape that but then are caught in a rockslide which buries Devil and knocks out Moon-Boy. Moon-Boy is taken to serve as a sacrifice in the cave of Long-Legs.

Devil soon manages to dig himself partially out when he’s confronted by an iguanodon.

A short battle follows, and the victorious Devil uses his sense of smell to track where Moon-Boy has been taken. Moon-Boy is tied up as a sacrifice to a giant spider when Devil bursts in with a burning stick from the flaming forest, rescues Moon-Boy, crushes Seven Scars and forces the rest of the Killer-Folk into the cave of Long-Legs to meet their fate.

It was a rough life back in the dawn of times, and DD was clearly a take no prisoners type. This is a really fun comic, especially the way that Kirby draws Devil, with a lot of personality, and how he emphasizes Devil and Moon-Boy’s mutual loyalty to one another.

https://www.comics.org/issue/32267/#199124
DEVIL DINOSAUR OMNIBUS [2007]
DEVIL DINOSAUR BY JACK KIRBY – THE COMPLETE COLLECTION [2014]

“Life Vs Anti-Life” (k021)

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“Life Vs Anti-Life” is a 22-page Fourth World story by Jack Kirby from THE FOREVER PEOPLE #3 [1971], inked by Vincent Colletta.

Kirby opens “Life vs Anti-Life” this issue with a quote from Hitler, about how the members of his movement are uniform in both ideas and facial expression. This is an ideal sought by another minion of Darkseid, Glorious Godfrey (who was somewhat based on evangelist Billy Graham). Some great Kirby writing Godfrey’s extolling the virtues of “anti-life” in the service Darkseid and being a faceless “Justifier”. “The right to point the finger or the gun”.

One of those “Justifiers” attempts to kill the Forever People, who then use Mother Box to trace them back to their “revelation tent” lair. Meanwhile the “Justifiers” are on the loose, rounding up undesirables and burning libraries, painting offending stores with an “S” for scapegoat. The Forever People transform to the Infinity Man to destroy Godfrey’s equipment. Unfortunately, he runs into a more powerful force.

Darkseid is able to easily bring back the Forever People easily enough, and DeSaad knocks them out to take to his prison camp. There’s some interesting interplay between Darkseid and two of his chief minions at the end, with one of Darkseid’s classic lines, “when you cry out in your dreams — it is Darkseid that you see!”

The villains definitely have the best scenes in this issue, and it’s interesting to see how Kirby modified and interpreted things he saw around him to use in his fantasy setting.

“Darius Drumm” (k020)

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“Darius Drumm” is a 20-page Kirby story published in SILVER STAR #2 [1983] from Pacific, inked and lettered by Mike Royer, coloured by Janice Cohen.

Kirby’s “Visual Novel” continues this issue, where the main focus is on the villain, Darius Drumm. But first we catch up with Morgan Miller, ten years later, and how his powers of atomic manipulation have developed. They’re then attacked by projections of Drumm, who also attacks Silver Star’s government minder in his car.

This issue gives us the origin of Drumm, the first born of those with the genetic gifts from Bradford Miller’s experiments. Kind of creepy, as we find he was talking and evil at birth, his father was head of a cult, the “Foundation for Self-Denial”, until Darius turned the cult on him. Drumm attacks the Miller home again, and we find out that Tracy Coleman has been in “stasis” for the last ten years, and there are others among the Homo Geneticus that Drumm fears.

Still a lot of set-up, but Drumm is an effective character, if a bit over the top, and his story is among the creepiest things Kirby ever wrote.

SILVER STAR – GRAPHITE EDITION [2006]
JACK KIRBY’S SILVER STAR #1 [2007]

“To Smash The Inhumans” (k019)

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“To Smash The Inhumans” is a 19-page Kirby story inked by Herb Trimpe and first published by Marvel in THE SILVER SURFER #18 [1970].

Kirby was brought in to give a new direction to the reportedly under-performing SILVER SURFER book with this issue, inked by Herb Trimpe, who was apparently supposed to take over the art with the next issue. Said next issue doesn’t exist, of course, and the issue ends on a cliffhanger that I believe isn’t even acknowledged in the next Surfer story.

The Surfer’s wanderings take him to the region of the Inhumans’ Great Refuge. He’s first attacked by some of the renegade Inhumans who are under the command of Maximus. He’s able to drive them off, but that’s enough to make the Surfer paranoid when he comes across the Great Refuge and winds up in battle against the Inhuman royal family (the Inhumans don’t help the situation by attacking him first).

Said battle continues through an attack by Maximus, including an amusing episode where Lockjaw is able to use his mighty jaws to keep the Surfer’s board from him. The Surfer finally leaves, and renounce reason, love and peace and revel in the madness he’s always found himself greeted with on Earth. Verily, the sixties were over at that point.

This is a really mixed issue. In some ways I’m not sure Kirby was fully engaged in what he was asked to do, understandably since he was just about to leave the company, and couldn’t have been that happy about being asked to “fix” the Surfer two years after the character was launched in a solo book without him. So I’m not sure that the new direction was even viable. However, some of the artwork is really nice, in particular the splash page of the Surfer entering the Great Refuge. Trimpe’s inking is really fine in spots.

https://www.comics.org/issue/23721/#164476
MARVEL MASTERWORKS #19 [SS-002] [1991]
ESSENTIAL SILVER SURFER #1 [1998]
SILVER SURFER OMNIBUS #1 [2007]
MARVEL MASTERWORKS – SILVER SURFER #2 [2010]

 

“The Mad Menace Of The Macabre Mole Man” (k018)

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“The Mad Menace Of The Macabre Mole Man” is a 21-page Jack Kirby story from FANTASTIC FOUR #31 [1964], inked by Chic Stone.

The original FF villain, the Mole Man, returns for a third go-round, this time sinking whole city blocks out of New York to his subterranean domain. While the rest of the FF go to investigate, Sue sees a photo of an escaped convict and goes to the police station. The block she’s on is sunk by the Mole Man and she’s taken hostage, and the rest of the team have to rescue her, including a brief side-track of having to keep the Avengers from interfering (as the “Marvel Universe” concept became more common in this era).

The FF escape, only Sue somehow gets injured in an explosion, and only one doctor can save her. It turns out to be the fugitive whose photo Sue was looking at earlier, who it turns out is Franklin Storm, father of Sue and Johnny, believed by most people to be dead. He’s able to save Sue, and we’re promised more on him next issue.

FF was a pretty good book at this point, just on the verge of a big leap in quality to the peak material. I especially like how Kirby was drawing the tech stuff at this time, like the scooters the Mole Man’s army uses, and Reed’s various devices.

Chic Stone inks the cover and story, a few issues into his run as FF inker. While I love Stone’s Thor and X-Men work of the period, his FF didn’t quite work quite as much for me (although he was better than the regular inkers right before and after him). For some reason his FF just doesn’t seem as bold as those other book. The big problem is how Ben Grimm looks in here. Seems a bit sparse, cartoony, without the texture that Sinnott would be bringing a year later, although he’s close to that in a few close-ups. Actually, ignoring how he inks Ben, most of the rest looks pretty decent.

https://www.comics.org/issue/18694/#140898
MARVEL’S GREATEST COMICS #23 [1969]
MARVEL’S GREATEST COMICS #29 [1970]
MARVEL MASTERWORKS #21 [1992]
ESSENTIAL FANTASTIC FOUR #2 [1999]
FANTASTIC FOUR OMNIBUS #2 [2007]
MARVEL MASTERWORKS – THE FANTASTIC FOUR #4 [2010]