Adventures of the Fly #2 (September 1959) “Tim O’Casey’s Wrecking Crew”, pencils by unidentified artist
If a young boy can be transformed into a fully costumed adult superhero with a magic ring, why not have a leprechaun as an opponent? Not strange enough? Well then give the leprechaun some giant robots to play with. The only thing missing in this delightful story is Jack Kirby. Too bad because I am sure Jack would have added his own personal touches and transformed it into a masterpiece.
Adventures of the Fly #2 (September 1959) “One of Our Skyscrapers is Missing” page 3, pencils by Al Williamson
Al Williamson was already a talented comic artist when he did “One of Our Skyscrapers is Missing” for this issue. And I have little doubt that he did this story. The various monsters that inhabit these pages all possess the Williamson touch. If Williamson was working from layouts, he took great liberties with them. His panel layouts are the most interesting ones found in either the Shield or the Fly. Further his artwork is far superior to the other artists working on the Archie superheroes that I have reviewed so far with the sole exception of Jack Kirby. That said the art for this story is really far below his best efforts. The work Al did for Race for the Moon the previous year was much superior.
Adventures of the Fly #2 (September 1959) “Sneak Attack”, pencils by Joe Simon
“Sneak Attack” is another of the pieces that generally get attributed to Jack Kirby but were actually drawn by Joe Simon. The reason for this misattribution is a credit to Joe’s skills at mimicking Jack’s style, often with the help of plenty of swipes. The pilot with the funny head gear was swiped from Kirby’s “Hot Box” (Foxhole #2). However it shows that Joe is not just copying Kirby as the head is in full frontal view instead of the 3/4 profile that Jack drew.
Adventures of the Fly #2 (September 1959) “Marco’s Eyes”, pencils by Jack Kirby
It is an old theme, but Kirby frequently returns to previous themes and improves upon them. In this case it is the idea of a stage performer using his power of hypnosis as a means of conducting crime. The earliest predecessor was probably an untitled story about sometimes called “Sando and Omar” from Captain America #1 (March 1941). “Marco’s Eyes” has some nice art and all in all a good effort, but certainly not among the better Simon and Kirby’s work. The double page splash is perhaps the weakest that S&K ever did. This is unfortunate since it is also the last the two would work on together.
Adventures of the Fly #2 (September 1959) “The Master of Junk-Ri-La”, pencils by Jack Kirby
While I would hardly call “The Master of Junk-Ri-La a masterpiece, it is a much better work than “Marco’s Eyes”. It does however contain some humor that might not be appreciated by many modern superhero fans used to bleaker tales. For instance the villain uses a giant fly swatter against the Fly.
The two stories in Adventures of the Fly #2 would be the last collaboration between Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for many years. The Jack Kirby Checklist includes “Muggy’s Masterpiece” from Adventures of the Fly #4 but that is clearly incorrect. Even the way the Archie superheroes were created made them more of a Simon effort than a Kirby one. Still the two had worked together in one form or another for a period of about 18 years. There may have been other comic book collaborations that were longer but there were none there were better. Or at least that is my opinion. But I may be biased; after all this is the Simon and Kirby Blog.
Since this is Kirby’s last work on the Fly I thought I would briefly touch on the part that it played in the creation of Spider-Man. Others have written in great depths about this issue but here I will only provide a brief outline of the events. Joe Simon, C. C. Beck and Jack Oleck got together in 1953 or 1954 to create a new superhero. Initially the name Spiderman was considered and Joe even created a logo using that name, but in the end the character was called the Silver Spider. Joe took the initial artwork by Beck and pitched the idea to Harvey Comics but they declined to publish it. Years later Archie Comics approached Simon to create some new superheroes and Joe came up with a new Shield and the Fly. Joe retrieved Beck’s Silver Spider art work from Harvey and sent it off to Jack to use as reference when he drew most of the art for the initial issues published in 1959. In 1962 Stan Lee worked initially with Kirby to create Spider-Man but in the end turned to Steve Ditko to provide the art. The work that Kirby did on Spider-Man has never been published but Ditko later described Kirby’s version as looking like the Fly.
The main source of contention about the creation of Spider-Man concerns not so much the history as the interpretation of that history. The most common subject of disagreement is whether Stan Lee and Steve Ditko should be considered the joint creators or if Jack Kirby should be included as well. While I have provided a broad history behind the creation of Spider-Man that I believe most comic scholars would largely accept there are numerous details that scholars seem unable to agree on. Even as simple a concept as the term creator turns out to have very different meanings depending on who is using it. I will not try to advance my own opinion as to who should be credited for creating Spider-Man. I prefer to let each reader come to their own conclusions. But I find it incomprehensible how some insist on crediting Jack Kirby as a Spider-Man creator while excluding Joe Simon.