Author Archives: Bob

“Winner Take All” (k014)

Posted in K100.

“Winner Take All” is a 20-page Jack Kirby story inked and lettered by Mike Royer and published by DC in KAMANDI, THE LAST BOY ON EARTH #14 [1974].

This issue continues Kamandi’s adventures in Hialeah, Florida, where’s he’s pressed into gladiatorial duty for Sacker, riding his mutated giant grasshopper Kliklak against the bison-riding devolved human Bull Bantam. Fortunately his friends from earlier in the series, Prince Tuftan and Doctor Canus are in attendance and get him out of a tight spot.

A nice mix in this issue, with a lot of action and a few touching moments, like Kam having to accept the fate of his faithful stead Kliklak and his reunion with his friends.

“Unleash The One Who Waits” (k013)

Posted in K100.

“Unleash The One Who Waits” is a 24-page Jack Kirby story from DC’s THE DEMON #1 [1972], inked and lettered by Mike Royer.


I think this story is among the best that Kirby ever did, and maybe the strongest first issue. The opening scene of the fall of Camelot under Morgaine Le Fey’s attack is just stunning, with one of Kirby’s best double page spreads, and establishes the premise of the series neatly. The move to the present day neatly introduces Jason Blood and the characters in his life, and it all builds to a great climax with the transformation of Blood to Etrigan (I suppose most people who read this story for the first time today will go in knowing that Jason Blood is Etrigan, so it’s kind of interesting that it’s presented as a bit of a twist at the end of the story).

Also in this story’s favour is Mike Royer’s work, by this time a year into being Kirby’s inker and definitely in complete control, really bringing the boldness and energy in Kirby’s art to the forefront.

“The Origin Of Sore, Son Of Shmodin” (k012)

Posted in K100.

“The Origin Of Sore, Son Of Shmodin” is an 8-page Kirby story from NOT BRAND ECHH #3 [1967], inked by Frank Giacoia. NBE was Marvel’s short-lived series mostly dedicated to self-parody of other comics, and Kirby drew five stories for it, looking at the various characters he was working on like The Silver Surfer and The Fantastic Four, plus “original” character Forbush Man.

This target of the issue this time is of course Thor.  Some pretty ridiculous things, like “Sore” having a chicken on top of his helmet, and his hammer being of the claw variety.

Of minor note, the term “kirbyesque” is used to describe one of “Hokey’s” guns, which might be the earliest published use of the term.

I really like how Giacoia’s inks look on this story. He inked Kirby a few times over the years, and always looks great, would have liked to see him do some more regular Thor than he did.
NOT BRAND ECHH #10 [1968]
THOR OMNIBUS #2 [2013]

“The Savage In Me” (k011)

Posted in K100.

“The Savage In Me” is a 14-page story by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, published in Prize’s YOUNG ROMANCE #22 [1950].  S&K of course pioneered the romance comics field starting in 1947, and Kirby did over 2000 pages of them in his career (as well as editing many more by other artists in the S&K days), unfortunately only a fraction of them have been reprinted.

This story features a young woman named Augusta Hatcher who works as a missionary with her father, teaching young kids in a small Chinese village. She finds her passions stirred by the arrival of an aggressive you man named Gary Donovan, who brings news of an oncoming threat that will force them to leave the village.

The S&K romance stories, especially the longer stories (they very rarely went above 14 pages), are always interesting, with a lot of varied settings and personalities and complicated plots that aren’t all about the romance elements.

“The Challenge Of Space” (k010)

Posted in K100.

“The Challenge Of Space” is a 2-page feature by Jack Kirby from Gilberton’s THE WORLD AROUND US #36 [1961], inked by Dick Ayers.  Kirby had a considerable volume of work published by Gilberton in 1961, most well known being his adaptation of The Last Days Of Pompeii for their main CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED and several chapters in a Civil War history for a special issue of CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED.  He also did several short bits for several issues of this non-fiction book (including a few not included in the US series but included in a British version titled WORLD ILLUSTRATED).

The main theme for this issue is “Fight For Life”, with many short stories about the history of medicine. Kirby does five of the stories, 13 pages in all, finishing with “The Challenge Of Space” looking at some of the equipment used to train astronauts for space flight (this was dated October 1961, so with lead times it’s possible it was done before the first manned flights in the spring). This was a field that Kirby had more than a little experience in, having drawn the SKY MASTERS comic strip for over two years, ending in early 1961. The comic strip of course had a much more exciting an imaginative look at space travel.

“Vira, The She-Demon” (k009)

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“Vira, The She-Demon” is a 17-page story by Jack Kirby from 2001 – A SPACE ODYSSEY #2 [1977], inked and lettered by Mike Royer and coloured by Janice Cohen. Kirby did a long tabloid sized adaptation of the 1968 film, followed by a ten issue series. As of now, this is the only major Kirby work from Marvel in the 1970s never to be reprinted (most of the other work has been reprinted at least twice).

Kirby spent the first six issues of the series doing variations on the movie’s storyline of the creation of the “New Seed” through evolutionary pushes from the Monolith. In this one, a woman named Vira gets the inspiration to clad herself in bones and use fear to rule her tribe, which pushes the whole tribe forward. That leads to the future, and astronaut Vera Gentry on the Jovian moon Ganymede escaping from an alien attack to her own encounter with the Monolith and the transformation to the next step.

“The Outlaw” (k008)

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“The Outlaw” is a 5-page story by Jack Kirby, inked by Dick Ayers, published by Marvel in TWO-GUN KID #55 [1960].  Kirby did western comics as far back as 1939, and memorably did Boys’ Ranch and Bullseye with Joe Simon in the 1950s. He continued to do westerns for Marvel on a fairly regular basis from 1957 to 1964, a lot of Rawhide Kid and Two-Gun Kid stories, but also a few dozen non-series shorts like this one.

“The Outlaw” is a nicely drawn story, about a bank robber who manages to escape from the local sheriff, but the sheriff remains confident. Over the course of the story, the outlaw finds that he can’t do anything with his money for fear of being caught, and is under constant suspicion, being a suspect for rustling cattle and slowly getting to the point that he’s spooked by any movement.

“I Was A Slave Of The Living Hulk” (k007)

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“I Was A Slave Of The Living Hulk” is a 13-page science fiction story by Jack Kirby first published in Marvel’s JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #62 [1960]. Inks are by Dick Ayers.

The “Living Hulk” of the title is a metallic alien giant named Xemnu who crashes in a remote swamp and is found be electrician Joe Harper. Harper manages to revive Xemnu with some high voltage electricity, but is shocked to discover Xemnu is an escaped criminal from a prison planet.  And I just love some of the throwaway aliens that Kirby puts in Xemnu’s fellow inmates. Xemnu plans to use his hypnosis powers to enslave the Earth and build a ship powerful enough to return him to his home planet, even though it would destroy the Earth in the process. As you’d expect, Harper is able to foil him at the last minute.

Xemnu would be one of the few of monsters from these stories to get a sequel, just a few months later in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #66 [1961], and makes many subsequent appearances in later Marvel comics.

“The Microscopic Army” (k006)

Posted in K100.

“The Microscopic Army” is a 5-page story by Jack Kirby published by Marvel in YELLOW CLAW #3 [1957].  Following the first issue of the series, by creators Al Feldstein and Joe Maneely, the next three were done by Kirby. Each issue has four stories, a total of 19 pages each issue, making up more than half of the published Kirby work in this brief 1956/1957 period of working at Marvel (the bulk of the other pages were western stories, plus a war story and a couple of  science fiction tales).

As usual for the short Claw stories, the plot is sparse but the art is brilliant, including a great splash page. In this story, the Claw uses a kidnapped scientist to create a shrinking device, sending in some of his soldiers as spies. FBI Agent Jimmy Woo is called in to a mysterious break-in and notices little tiny footprints, and uses a prototype of the device to shrink himself. A quick battle that includes a giant type-writer and Jimmy using a pen as a lance follows, and the Yellow Claw is forced to flee before his base can be found.

Kirby would use the shrinking gimmick several more times in his career, such as the “Scrapper Troopers” of the DNA Project, a Private Strong story and several stories at Marvel, including the Ant-Man.


“The Big Boom” (k005)

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“The Big Boom” is a 23-page Kirby story from SUPERMAN’S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN #138 [1971], inked by Vincent Colletta with additional art on some figures by Murphy Anderson.

This is the conclusion of Kirby”s story that began in #133, and kicked off what’s become known as the “Fourth World”. The ending is kind of abrupt, as Kirby’s original plans apparently conflicted with some stuff planned from the New York offices, so changed course with this issue (Mark Evanier later did a story based on notes from Kirby’s original plot in LEGENDS OF THE DC UNIVERSE #14 [1999]).  The story as published is still pretty exciting, with a 15-minute countdown to doomsday, as the Four-Armed Terror created by the Evil Factory beats a path of destruction towards the atomic power plant of the DNA Project, threatening an explosion which will take out Metropolis (with a very funny scene of Morgan Edge, pawn of Darkseid, making plans to escape, leaving his underlings behind).