Category Archives: Genre

Dark Horse Presents #103 [1995]


This issue of Dark Horse’s long running anthology series promises an “exclusive never-before-seen Jack Kirby centerfold” on the cover, and indeed we do get this Kirby image from 1970, inked by Mike Royer, on a two-page spread in the middle of the book.  This is one of several religious themed images that Kirby did and displayed in his home.  Dark Horse published this and the other images in the series in a portfolio the following year, signed and with commentary by Roz Kirby, and I think they’ve all been seen in various issues of  The Jack Kirby Collector and other places in the years since.

It’s a fascinating image of God turning his back on the world, very open to interpretation on the exact meaning, and an showing a few of the visual motifs that he used in his comic book work in a more pure form.

A nice look at some of the work that Kirby did when there was no real commercial aim or deadline (remember, he did these kinds of things while maintaining his regular comics work at several pages per day).

Where Creatures Roam #3 [1970]


Reprint from TALES TO ASTONISH #16 [1961] in this issue. The story was originally titled “Here Comes Thorr, the Unbelievable”, but for some mysterious reason was renamed “Thorg” (okay, not so mysterious). A 7-page Kirby/Ayers effort.

This is one of many examples of Kirby using large stone creatures (including, oddly , the first Thor story soon after this), specifically Easter Island types, in stories. I think there was an article in TJKC about it. Anyway, in this one Linus, an archaeologist, and his wife Helen go to a recently discovered remote volcanic island in the Pacific to examine some giant stone heads. He finds a hidden room and trips an electric eye, which brings one of the heads to life, digging itself out to reveal a giant figure. Turns out Thorg is part of an advance team for an alien invasion. Linus convinces Thorg that he can conquer Earth solo, without activating the other heads, and calling his people to the island. Naturally everyone else assumes that he’s betraying humanity.


But after the other aliens arrive, Linus sneaks away and uses dynamite to trigger the volcano, destroying the island, knowing that the aliens rocky bodies would sink in the sea. Everyone else flees, but they return for Linus when they realize what his plan was. The natives don’t seem too upset by him blowing up their island, but he did save humanity.

Lots of common plot points from several other stories, like man pretending to sign with the invaders and the advance force to the invading army, but as usual put together in a clever way, and great looking artwork (though not really done justice in this reprint).

The cover is a modified version of the Kirby/Ditko TTA #16 cover, with various figures added, as well as some boats and water across the bottom.

Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #136 [1971]


Jack Kirby’s fourth issue of JIMMY OLSEN features the 22-page story “The Saga of the D.N.Aliens”, opening with Superman continuing the fight with the green kryptonite-laced giant Jimmy Olsen clone, while the real Jimmy and the Newsboy Legion look on, and suddenly a new version of the Guardian, the old protector of the original Newsboys, joins the fight.

The heroes aren’t doing too well, until suddenly rescue comes in the unexpected form of a the Scrapper Troopers, miniature duplicates of the feisty brawling Newsboy. Man, those guys at the Project were just goofy, weren’t they? Anyway, returning to the Project, the original Newsboys explain how a dying Jim Harper finally confessed to his identity as the Guardian, and they took a sample to create this new clone, and Superman shows Jimmy around the Project (some pal, keeping all this secret from Jimmy for so long), including the three types of clones, the Normals, the Step-ups and the Aliens, the latter demonstrated by Dubbilex.

Meanwhile, in the Evil Factory, Darkseid’s minions Simyan and Mokkari get dressed down by their master for their inept handling of the situation, and hatch their next agent of destruction from their own out-of-control experiments.

Kirby was really tossing out those ideas with reckless abandon in those early days at DC, even moreso than is normal for him. He even tosses in a collage to illustrate some of the science of DNA being used by the Project.

Vince Colletta inks (with the usual Superman and Jimmy modifications by other hands), and no Kirby cover on this issue

Our Fighting Forces #154 [1975] – Bushido


This was the fourth of Kirby’s twelve issues of the series featuring the team of DC’s WWII characters who couldn’t support their separate features, The Losers. In this 18-page story, “Bushido”, he moves the action to the war against the Japanese in the Pacific islands (those Losers get around), as they infiltrate a Japanese base and capture a Colonel, leading to a chase through the jungles and quite a lot of action in very few pages, including escapes, booby-traps, prisoner exchanges and single combat until the Losers finally complete their mission.

Kirby’s stories of the war in the Pacific tend to be a bit more fanciful than those set in Europe, presumably because his first-hand experience was in Europe and for the other stories he has to rely on second-hand accounts. Still, there’s a lot of neat stuff, including a well-designed two-page splash with some carefully labeled heavy guns. D. Bruce Berry inks the whole thing, with somewhat uneven results. A few pages, including the splash, look really good, while others look rushed.

In addition to the story, there’s also a 2-page “Wheels ‘n Tracks” feature, looking at some of the armoured cars of the war, from the Germans, Italians and the British. The cover is also by Kirby and Berry.

The Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics [2008]


THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST CRIME COMICS is a thick new anthology edited by Paul Gravett, part of a large series of MAMMOTH BOOK OF… collections which seem to be mostly prose but have also included …BEST WAR COMICS, …BEST HORROR COMICS, …BEST NEW MANGA and the upcoming …ZOMBIE COMICS (oddly not the “Best” zombie comics…). The books I’ve seen of the series are far from perfect, and obviously rights issues keeps them from being really comprehensive, but they’re a good value for the money (generally $12-$14 purchased on-line for about 500 pages) and good samplers of the genres, not restricted to just American comics.

THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST CRIME COMICS has been the best of the collections I’ve seen so far, because it includes some Simon&Kirby, namely the 14-page story “The Money-Making Machine Swindlers” from JUSTICE TRAPS THE GUILTY #6 [1948].

The reproduction is in black and white from a printed copy, and looks pretty good for that. There are some remnants of the colouring, but light enough that they provide some shading without distracting from the linework.

The story is a confessional type, told by Prisoner 235079, Stella Brady, about how she came to be a guest of the state, your typical story of a young girl looking to escape from the drudgery of working life, witnessing a scam gone wrong involving selling gullible fools a share in a phony counterfeiting machine. Sensing that she can work the scam better, she gets in on the action and helps to set up a hotel owner with a gambling problem as the next mark. Little does she know, crime does not… oh wait, wrong company. Little does she know, justice traps the guilty.

Great little story, some prime S&K from the period when the romance comics were just taking off, with a lot in common with those stories, from the confessional narration to the attention to detail in the various characters and settings, some great storytelling punctuated by moments of sudden violence that S&K excelled at.

Where Monsters Dwell #2 [1970]


A trio of Kirby/Ayers 7-pagers reprinted in this issue, giving a nice sample of the range of monsters that rampaged through the pre-hero Marvel line.

Opening up is “I Created Sporr, The Thing That Could Not Die” from TALES OF SUSPENSE #11 [1960], which also provides the Kirby/Ayers cover for this issue. A scientist buys the castle supposedly owned by Doctor Frankenstein in Transylvania (I think someone was mixing their movie monsters there), planning some experiments on growth rays to cure world hunger. Unfortunately, just as he tries his first experiment on an amoeba, the superstitious villagers burst in and take him away, leading the amoeba to grow uncontrollably. Oddly, this was foretold in a local legend about Sporr. Our hero manages to break out of prison, rescue a young boy on crutches and then use his scientific know-how to lure Sporr into some quicksand. Everybody learns their lesson.

These 7-pagers are sometimes a bit unsatisfying in story terms, too quick to really get more than a sketch of events. Still gorgeous, though, and the cover and title page of this story are particular favourites among the Kirby/Ayers stuff, and Sporr’s a great little creature causing havoc on the eastern European landscape.

Next up is “I Am Dragoom! The Flaming Invader” from STRANGE TALES #76 [1960], and from an organic monster we now move to flames. Despite the title, this story is told by sci-fi/horror movie maker Victor Cartwright, who gets no respect, but a great deal of money, for his craft. That all changes when Dragoom, a flaming invader escaped from prison on the planet Vulcan comes to Earth to conquer. Mankind quickly falls to the threat of a ring of flames around the planet, until suddenly Dragoom gets word of some of his fellow creatures, police from Vulcan, arriving on Earth, and flees in fear. All special effects wizardry from Victor, of course.

This one works pretty well. Dragoom’s not that noteworthy, although the panel of him using a city block as a throne is really cool.

And finally, from STRANGE TALES #75 [1960] comes “Taboo! The Thing From the Murky Swamp”. An adventure writer heads down to the Amazon for some new ideas, and ignores local legends about a monster in a forbidden swamp. Never a good idea:

I love that last panel. Silent panels like that aren’t too common in these monster stories, making them all the more striking when they are used.

The creature reveals that it crashed in the swamp while journeying from a distant galaxy, and needed access to all human scientific knowledge to build a new spaceship. The United Nations agrees to this, foolishly as it turns out, since this was all a ruse by Taboo to gather intelligence for an invasion. Joke’s on him, as they planted an H-bomb on the device with the information. Just in case.

I do like that ending. Taboo’s okay, but the real highlight here is the amazon scenery.

Tales to Astonish #42 [1963] – Cover


Decent little cover from the Ant-Man days, with Kirby playing around with some of the odd scales and perspectives that the feature called for. I liked the city in the background, too.


Inks by Sol Brodsky.

Published 1963
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Sgt. Fury #20 [1965] – Cover

Posted in Genre, War.

Frantic little war cover from Kirby and Frank Giacoia, featuring the Howlers once again going against their Nazi counterparts, the Blitz Squad. The situations those boys get into…


Published 1965

Two-Gun Kid #63 [1963] – Cover


After drawing the stories for the first few issues of new new version of the Two-Gun Kid, Kirby went to just covers for the series with this issue, along with his most frequent western inker at Marvel, Dick Ayers. This is a pretty effective example of the sometimes tricky use of panel art to tell a mini-story on a cover.


Published 1963

Tales to Astonish #58 [1964] – Cover


Jack Kirby and Sol Brodsky provide the cover to this issue of ASTONISH, another Giant-Man adventure. Great sense of scale on this one, and I always like Brodsky’s linework.


Published 1964