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Five For Friday #4: The King
posted November 19, 2004
Recommend Five Comics by the Great Jack Kirby
(no collections or series, please, just comics and magazines!)
Captain America's Bicentennial Battles Treasury Special
Captain America Annual
#4 (Cap fights early '70s doofus version of Magneto)
#55 (Thing Vs. Silver Surfer)
#16 (Shilo goes solo)
The Captain America story in Tales of Suspense
#94, for its beautiful Sinnott inking and the introduction of Modok. Kirby is a very close second to Fellini in his celebration of grotesques.
#59, for the elegance of Kirby's multi-strand plotting and its spectacular cover, a nest of action lines pulsing around the FF and Black Bolt.
#62, for its Byzantine machine backgrounds (look at the "trans-barrier phone" Ben Grimm uses on page one) and beautiful double-page collage of the Negative Zone.
#5, the first issue I saw, for its razor-sharp Kirby/Royer art, the giant clam holding Orion hostage, and the monstrous tusked whale on the final page splash.
#1, for Kirby's willingness to volunteer his time for creators' rights, and for the unsettling way his art mixed with Steve Gerber's own brand of surrealism (although it's in a later issue of Destroyer Duck
where a spine peels away from a corpse and moves on its own...!).
A special award should go to John Morrow and The Jack Kirby Collector
, for unearthing all the Kirby comics that have yet to be published, like Soul Love
, In the Days of the Mob
#2, the second and third stories featuring the Dingbats of Danger Street, etc. We can dream of a collection...
#29 -- "The Legend" Kamamdi encounters a tribe of gorillas who have organized their society around Superman's costume
#75 "The Villain from Valhalla" (Sandman, w/Joe Simon)
First Issue Special
#5 (Manhunter -- chapter 2 is entitled "The Electric Head!")
Tales of Asgard
#1 (his best Marvel work)
The Hunger Dogs
GN (undeservedly disparaged, thematically satisfying conclusion to the New Gods series, wherein Orion refuses the terms and violence of the prophecy and abandons Darkseid to stew in his own pathetic evil)
#55 "When Strikes the Silver Surfer" To me, this is the archetypal Marvel comic.
#107 "If the Past be not Dead--" Cap sees a shrink, takes an anti-hallucinogen and pines for his dead WWII partner. Beautiful inking by Sid Shores in the three page dream sequence. Mind Bending!
#6 "The Glory Boat" Themes of heroism and sacrifice. Kirby really tapped into something with this story. This may be his masterpiece.
#8 "The Battle of the Id" Scott Free on Apocolips, the Female Furies and a slugfest in the arena of the mind of the Lump!
#13 "Astronauts" Kirby meets Joseph Campbell's 'hero with a thousand faces.' The last good issue of the series.
Chairman, United Bloggers Against Endemic Treponematosis
The Young Romance
story where the guy really tells his girlfriend off ["Your voice shouts the jargon of the gutter!"]. I forget the issue number, but I ran a big sequence from it in the Kirby TCJ Library book. I'm convinced Kirby wrote the whole thing himself; it has his syntax and rhythm. The art's just gorgeous, even by his romance work's high standards.
That epic Fantastic Four
annual where Reed, Johnny and Ben have to go into the Negative Zone to get some Cosmic McGuffin Thingee to help Sue survive giving birth to Franklin. It's a really exciting read, a nearly flawless performance in adventure-comics drawing and Jack went batshit with the groovy collages.
Any issue of The New Gods
-- pick a number, any number, between one and 11 -- but especially the ones where Orion is a completely hateful dick.
The Our Fighting Forces
story about the black runner is pretty great, despite its shitty inking. If D. Bruce Baum [sp?] had inked any of Kirby's superduper pencils, the nerds would still be burning him in effigy today. Whatever happened to that guy, anyway?
#3, which could only be better if Gojira himself was in it. I love that Kirby drew such subtle facial expressions on his dinosaurs.
#11, "The Greatest Show Off Earth!" I got this one for a quarter at a comic/baseball card show back in the early 1990s, and more than a decade later, it's still one of my favorites. An incredibly fun comic from start to finish... plus Big Barda in that funky Kirby bikini thing. Best 25 cents I ever spent.
#10. Kamandi, killer germs, radiation mutants, and the scariest characters of all time, SAVAGE MAN-SIZED BATS! Lots of action, and some incredibly disturbing villains. If I'd read this one as a kid, I think I'd be institutionalized somewhere today.
Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen
#141, "Will the REAL Don Rickles PANIC?!?" Sure, Vince Colletta inked it, but even he couldn't keep Kirby's insanity in check this time around. Don Rickles, his twin Goody Rickels, Intergang, Para-demons, the Guardian, the New Gods, photo collages... The very idea that a photo of Don Rickles on the cover would make kids pick up this book is as preposterous today as it must have been in 1971, but that didn't stop The King. Like the cover says, "Kirby says: 'Don't ask! Just buy it!.'"
Tales of Suspense
#81, "The Red Skull Supreme!" Classic Kirby art and Stan Lee scripting. In the course of ten pages, Captain America overcomes inconceivable odds and beats the nigh-omnipotent Cosmic Cube-powered Red Skull through sheer pluck, willpower and fighting spirit. Nothing like seeing Nazis get stomped to make you feel patriotic.
#51, "This Man, This Monster!" Everybody picks this one, and with good reason. Possibly Stan Lee's best script, combined with Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott at the height of their prowess. Photo-collages, giant Kirby machines, human drama... Face it, true believer, if this one doesn't have it, you don't need it. Part of a long run of classic issues featuring the Inhumans, Silver Surfer, Galactus, Black Panther, Klaw and Doctor Doom. It seems a shame not to mention the rest of the issues from #40-60 (including #55, which I bought for a quarter the same time I found Mister Miracle
#11), but you said five single issues, and that's that.
2001: A Space Odyssey
(the adaptation and the series)
no. 4 "Kingdom of the Damned (Happy Land)"
Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen
. I like his whole run but I really like no. 145 "Paradise Prison," page 7, it's pure futuristic, abstract science fiction.
DC no. 1 tryout issue of "The Dingbats." A riff raff 70's update of The Newsboy Legion. It's hilarious, insane and amazing.
Also, I'd feel terrible if I didn't mention that "comic" he did for Anything Goes (the one with the Frank Miller cover). It features some long haired blonde guy (Capt. Victory?) and the ever enigmatic VIDEO ROCK.
"Sub-Mariner Versus The Human Race!" from Fantastic Four Annual
"A Blind Man Shall Lead Them!" and "The Battle of the Baxter Building!" from Fantastic Four
#39 and #40
"The Coming of Galactus," "If This Be Doomsday," and "The Startling Saga of the Silver Surfer" from Fantastic Four
"This Man... This Monster!" from Fantastic Four
"Seven Doomed Men!" from Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos