Kid Colt Outlaw #86 (September 1959) “Meeting at Midnight”, art by Jack Kirby
“Meeting at Midnight” is the last Kirby Black Rider story to be published, and the last one that I have occasion to post about as well. The job number (M-556) indicates that the story was likely to have been done prior to the Atlas Implosion. The existence of two other Kirby Black Rider stories (“Trouble in Leadville” and “The Raiders Strike“) that also have ‘M’ job numbers suggest that all were originally intended for an unpublished Black Rider Rides Again #2, a casualty of the Implosion.
The story opens with the Black Rider arriving in town as shots are fired. He finds the shooter but looses him in the pursuit. Changing back to his identity as the town doctor he treats a man who claims to have been wounded while cleaning his gun. Suspicious, Doc reverts back to the Black Rider and observes his patient providing money to another; the wounded man is being blackmailed. The two men arrange for another meeting the next night. Back in his public identity, the Doc slips his patient a sedative and goes as the Black Rider to the appointment with the blackmailer. A gun fight ensues and, while trying to escape, the blackmailer falls to his death.
The plots of this and the other Black Rider stories are so repetitive that this feature is not one I care for very much. That repetition is so unlike Jack’s writing style that I seriously doubt whether he made any substantial contribution to the plotting or the writing. One of the reasons for my interest in Kirby’s pre-Implosion art for Atlas is the amount of control Jack seemed to have on some of that work. Unfortunately for “Meeting at Midnight” not only was Jack not the writer, he was not the inker either. I personally cannot say who the inked this story, Atlas inkers are a subject I know next to nothing about. The Jack Kirby Checklist credits Bill Everett as the inker, while Atlas Tales and the GCD attribute it to George Klein.
The drawing of all the Kirby Black Rider stories, excepting “Meeting at Midnight”, is very stylized with elongated figures or limbs. A similar style can be found in another western that Jack both penciled and inked “No Man Can Outdraw Him” (posted on here and here). The stories from Black Rider Rides Again #1 and “No Man Can Outdraw Him” were inked by Kirby in a manner that I think works quite well with the stylized drawing giving the final art an expressionistic look. The inker(s) of “The Raiders Strike” and “Trouble in Leadville” adopted a different, more intricate, inking but otherwise remaining faithful to Kirby’s pencils. I find that this results in figures that look freakish. The figures in “Meeting at Midnight” do not look so stylized and I think this was the result of the inker adjusting Kirby’s pencils. As I said I am no scholar of Atlas comics, but I will hazard an observation that the art for “Meeting at Midnight” looks closer to Kirby’s later Atlas/Marvel westerns. Perhaps the inking was not done at the time of the Implosion but only when it was decided that this story would be published in the Kid Colt Outlaw title.