Posts Tagged ‘Jack Kirby’

Captain America Annual #4

August 30, 2012

Jack Kirby
October 1977
***
The King’s swansong on Cap recalls his early X-work, as the hero competes w/ Magneto’s Brotherhood to recruit a mutant. Jack never got Magneto (presenting the villain as a ranting, 1D, would-be despot) but he shows how fertile the concept of mutants could be. Take the maguffin, a mite in a wristwatch who shares a mind w/ a behemoth! It’s as uncanny a mutant as any that Claremont would imagine.
[last issue: Captain America Annual #3]
[next issue: Captain America Annual #5]

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Captain America & the Falcon #214

August 26, 2012

Jack Kirby
October 1977
****
Just when Jack has found his groove, he abandons the mag. Too bad—the mystery of the Night Flyer & his cybernetic equipment will remain! This super-assassin prefigures the uber-competent mercs of the ’90s, but his weirdo philosophy & his OCD set him apart as a late Kirby creation worth noting.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #213]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #215]

Captain America & the Falcon #213

August 25, 2012

Jack Kirby
September 1977
****
Once again, Kirby’s Cap run visits a hospital—it’s almost a theme! Steve, temporarily blinded & dreaming night terrors, rooms w/ a “defector” that a criminal conspiracy wants dead. Enter the Night Flyer, a psychotic assassin obsessed w/ perfection. So odd, he seems ‘ported in from The Fourth World!
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #212]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #214]

Captain America & the Falcon #212

August 25, 2012

Jack Kirby
August 1977
****
Cap, helped by his superspy sweetie & a Latina revolutionary, blows up his archenemy & a bioengineer in a living Nazi castle—but it costs him his eyesight! In any other hands, this long, 7-issue arc would simply be surreal fun, but Kirby’s dynamic artwork adds strum und drang to the hand-to-hand climax.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #211]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #213]

Captain America & the Falcon #211

August 24, 2012

Jack Kirby
July 1977
****
#211 has so much action, it can’t spare a panel for the Falcon. Arnim Zola hooks his robo-head to an ESP booster to manipulate the biomechanical walls of his castle! Funded by the Red Skull, the madman has saved Hitler’s brain for placement in Cap’s body—the ultimate Kirby horror in will negation!
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #210]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #212]

Captain America & the Falcon #210

August 23, 2012

Jack Kirby
June 1977
****
The Red Skull himself bankrolls Dr. Zola, that mad scientist w/ a face in his chest & camera for a kopf! But #210’s real juice is the doc’s bizarre monsters. Last ish introed a flying blob of dough, this has a surreal eye/ear guard, a roc, & a cyborg who argues that his sentience merits his liberty.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #209]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #211]

Captain America & the Falcon #209

August 22, 2012

Jack Kirby
May 1977
****
The King retains his crown w/ a fantastic new villain: Arnim Zola, a Moreau-like bioengineer w/ a Blemmyes body & psi-camera head! But Zola’s only the greatest creative burst of several in this ish, like his freakish protoplasmic blob. Meanwhile, SHIELD redrafts Agent 13 to assist on an X-File.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #208]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #210]

Captain America & the Falcon #208

August 21, 2012

Jack Kirby
April 1977
***
This jungle arc runs concurrent w/ Kirby’s offbeat run on Black Panther—prob’ly no coincidence, tho’ his Cap work feels less feverishly imaginative. In the rainforest of C. America, on the shores of the Rio de Muerto, Cap earns a female sidekick as he wrestles w/ one of Kirby’s rough-hided monsters.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #207]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #209]

Captain America & the Falcon #207

August 20, 2012

Jack Kirby
March 1977
***
Kirby re-examines his fave  theme of despotism & its annihilation of the spirit. Unlike the Madbomb Affair, this long arc in Central America doesn’t emulate an earlier classic; it’s a grindhouse flick w/ Monroe Doctrine undertones. Far from America protection, Cap serves justice to a Hispanic warden.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #206]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #208]

Captain America & the Falcon #206

August 19, 2012

Jack Kirby
February 1977
****
Kirby plots #206 well, mirroring a romantic dinner w/ a banquet of torture. The former, a rocky double-date w/ his partner, has Cap trying to repair his relaish w/ Sharon Carter. The latter occurs in Central America, where a banana dictator works men to death (shades, most currently, of Pinochet).
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #205]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #207]

Captain America & the Falcon #205

August 18, 2012

Jack Kirby
January 1977
**
One year into his Cap run, Kirby’s action sequences rattle the reader’s teeth as much as ever, but they lack the gonzo creativity that drives his best ’70s work. Here, CA & Falc brawl in the streets w/ an energy being from the far future. His eyes crackle w/ Kirby dots but he’s just a big bruiser.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #204]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #206]

Captain America & the Falcon #204

August 17, 2012

Jack Kirby
December 1976
****
More “Theater of the Weird”, as Kirby puts it. At SHIELD’s psych ward, brainwashed Falcon faces a walking cadaver motivated by a disembodied intelligence. But the real drama is elsewhere, as Sharon Carter insists Cap hang up his shield. Their scenes vividly depict a couple arguing past each other.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #203]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #205]

Captain America & the Falcon #203

August 16, 2012

Jack Kirby
November 1976
**
One of Kirby’s weirder tales, this arc explores an insane asylum adrift in a dimension akin to the Negative Zone. The inmates may be mad, even violent, but they’ve also established a colony, one of the King’s “outsider enclaves.” Still, it collapses when Cap must rescue all from a horde of monsters.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #202]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #204]

Captain America & the Falcon #202

August 15, 2012

Jack Kirby
October 1976
***
Jack saturates #202 w/ ideas, but they’re all vaguely familiar & a bit too loose-limbed. The strongest, most sinister one has Falc & his gal brainwashed via ECT! This element of techno-coersion reiterates Kirby’s interest in totalitarian indoctrination, tho’ his villains here are pathetic, not evil.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #201]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #203]

Captain America & the Falcon #201

August 14, 2012

Jack Kirby
September 1976
***
From a pocket dimension, a lunatic fraternity of criminal vagabonds strike—kidnapping the Falcon’s lady! Only Kirby could’ve dreamed up the Night People, a weird fusion of tropes from Dickens & Poe. It’s not formulaic but it’s not quite good either. Kirby may’ve lost his grasp on solo superheroics.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #200]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #202]

Captain America & the Falcon #200

August 13, 2012

Jack Kirby
August 1976
***
Cap stares down the royalist conspiracy’s leader; the Falcon destroys the WMD that would’ve driven America insane. And so the 8-issue Madbomb Affair ends, a formulaic superspy arc. Tho’ Kirby drops plot threads & skimps on character, his stylized art & superb pacing adds tension to the operation.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #199]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #201]

Captain America & the Falcon #199

August 12, 2012

Jack Kirby
July 1976
***
Great as Kirby is (you can feel the heat of the cover’s explosion), his bicentennial arc centering on a royalist conspiracy just isn’t catching fire. The best part’s the Madbomb, an ingenious piece of Kirbytech whose mechanical brain drives men to violent insanity & whose inventor defects to SHIELD.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #198]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #200]

Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles #1 of 1

August 11, 2012

Jack Kirby
June 1976
****
Kirby fetes his first & most popular hero as well as the US Bicentennial in a King-size special. The issue’s plot sends the Man Out of Time thru his country’s history, courtesy of a mystic yogi. Its best moments see Cap connecting w/ the downtrodden, like miners, Indians, & an escaped slave, or shaking his head at a lunar war & at patriotic pomp. Like a lot of Kirby’s work in the late 1970s, it’s uneven but sections inspire awe. Take the first dozen pages: Windsor-Smith’s inking adds dimensional contours to Kirby’s pencils. This Cap kinda resembles Jack’s WW2-era collab w/ Joe Simon!
[see also Captain America & the Falcon #198]

Captain America & the Falcon #198

August 10, 2012

Jack Kirby
June 1978
****
Kirby modulates his tone for this episode in the Madbomb Affair. Cap helps SHIELD capture the WMD’s inventor by romancing the man’s fatally ill daughter. Lovely scenes in moonlit room & on a secluded beach, plus some delicate emotions & sensitive expressions, imply Kirby’s past in romance comics.
[see also Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles #1 of 1]
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #197]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #199]

Captain America & the Falcon #197

August 9, 2012

Jack Kirby
May 1976
***
Artwise, Kirby’s return to Cap is cool. But storywise, he digs up the most preposterous tropes of the super-spy subgenre, incl. a secret HQ populated by thousands of conspirators. Cap doesn’t find the “madbomb” maguffin nor does he snare his shadowy foe, but he does help the US army seize the base.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #196]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #198]

Captain America & the Falcon #196

August 8, 2012

Jack Kirby
April 1976
***
Less of a storyteller than an idea man, Kirby delivers a high-concept setpiece. To win back his shield, Cap skateboards in a deathmatch derby run by a burly black gal named Tinker Belle! Kirby may be idiosyncratic but he’s an alternative to Marvel’s dull house style, plot-heavy & Romita-based.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #195]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #197]

Captain America & the Falcon #195

August 7, 2012

Jack Kirby
March 1976
***
Kirby’s first Cap arc is one of his standard 1970s anti-fascist “It Can Happen Here” plots. From a bunker out west, latter-day aristos plan to enslave the populace w/ thought slogans, demagoguery, & lobotomies! It may lack subtlety, its plotting may be formulaic, but wow what art!
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #194]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #196]

Captain America & the Falcon #194

August 6, 2012

Jack Kirby
February 1976
***
Cap stumbles onto a royalist conspiracy in modern America. It’s anti-aristo, a four-color parable for populism. But Kirby follows Englehart’s more relevant view of 1970s politics in Cap, so good it renders this take corny & broad. On the plus side, Sam Wilson gets snarky over the Am Rev & slavery.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #193]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #195]

Captain America & the Falcon #193

August 5, 2012

Jack Kirby
January 1976
****
Kirby rings in the Bicentennial w/ a return to his first major creation. Cap stops a NYC riot caused by a Madbomb. This Kirbytech, w/ nicknames that echo the A-bomb, is the secret weapon in an anti-US conspiracy. The intel comes from H. Kissinger himself, a SHIELD liaison hiding in a deathtrap lair!
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #192]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #194]

Captain America Annual #3

August 4, 2012

Jack Kirby
January 1976
****
Kirby returns to Marvel w/ a Cap Annual. It captures excellently his expressionistic, mature style: slick Kirbytech, crackling energy, hideous monsters, rugged bodies, a pace set by the rhythm of a 2×3 grid that explodes into awesome splashes! The plot, more old-fashioned, pays homage to 1950s B-movie sci-fi, as Cap & a farmer get caught btw a megalomaniac energy parasite & hunters on a UFO.
[continued from Captain America & the Falcon #192]
[continued in Captain America & the Falcon #194]
[last issue: Captain America Annual #2]

[next issue: Captain America Annual #4]

The Eternals #19

July 31, 2012

Jack Kirby
January 1978
***
Kirby’s 2nd great stillborn epic (after The Fourth World) ends w/o ceremony. It went off its track after #11, more or less, as editorial had the King focus on one hero, Ikaris, & his adventures. The result, an overly trad superhero mag, does end w/ a bang as Ik faces his brother in a Lost City.
[last issue: The Eternals #18]

The Eternals #18

July 30, 2012

Jack Kirby
****
December 1977
Tho it lacks the several weaving plots of the mag’s first year, this issue helps return it to its epic form. A corrupt Eternal investigates ways to kill the space gods. His discovery: on a prior visit, Celestial fought Celestial! The double-page spread showing its disintegration is King-size superb.
[last issue: The Eternals #17]
[next issue: The Eternals #19]

The Eternals #17

July 29, 2012

Jack Kirby
November 1977
***
A return to this mag’s magniloquent format, a constantly roiling cauldron of super-ideas. Sersi helps the men against a monstrous mind-tyrant. The mummied titan speaks w/ the same imposing, will-annihilating voice as Kirby’s greatest creation, Darkseid. The art, however, is less impressive.
[last issue: The Eternals #16]
[next issue: The Eternals #18]

The Eternals #16

July 28, 2012

Jack Kirby
October 1977
***
Under the city, the Eternals’ leader, red-bearded Zuras, faces a psi-beast he’d interred in prehistoric times. It echoes Kirby’s Thor work w/ Lee, but the tone is darker & angst-ridden. Once again, Manhattan lies devastated; its residents cower in their homes as the firefighters stomp out blazes.
[last issue: The Eternals #15]
[next issue: The Eternals #17]

The Eternals #15

July 27, 2012

Jack Kirby
September 1977
**
Ikaris & the gang face an irradiated robot version of the Hulk. In Jack’s hands, it should be cool, but his heart seems to have left The Eternals as editorial (presumably) dictates he write less gonzo sci-fi & more conventional superheroics. Even his “neo-Hulk” lacks the rugged dynamism it deserves.
[last issue: The Eternals #14]
[next issue: The Eternals #16]

The Eternals #14

July 26, 2012

Jack Kirby
August 1977
**
Cosmic energy irradiates a Hulk robot, causing it to come to life w/ all the brutality & strength of the actual monster. Kirby makes a hard turn into conventional superhero fare, which plays to his weaknesses (ham-fisted dialogue, old-fash plots) rather than his strengths (a hyperactive imagination).
[last issue: The Eternals #13]
[next issue: The Eternals #15]

The Eternals #13

July 25, 2012

Jack Kirby
July 1977
****
A self-contained episode within the larger plot, as the three subspecies—human, Deviant, Eternal—probe the Celestial starship in orbit. Kirby adds great touches, like a loner named the Forgotten One (whose face we never see) &, in a double-page spread, a locomotive-like missile that belches fire!
[continued from The Eternals Annual #1]
[last issue: The Eternals #12]
[next issue: The Eternals #14]

The Eternals Annual #1

July 24, 2012

Jack Kirby
July 1977
***
Kirby pens a stand-alone episode, a rather creaky superhero adventure that lacks the monthly mag’s panoramic complexity & sprawling cast. Still, it’s more fun than most conventional comics, then or now! The duo of noble-minded monster & savage hunk hunt a mad inventor who’s lifting historical evildoers from their home eras to contempo NYC. An esp nice beat has giant Karkas entertain a lost kid.
[continued in The Eternals #13]

The Eternals #12

July 23, 2012

Jack Kirby
June 1977
****
Readers w/ the taste for Kirby’s magniloquence will boggle as the Eternals form a collective super-brain! Even better, we’ll relish a rare show of human depth, as a throwback to Kirby’s Atlas era monsters displays a philosophic mind. An action scene actually distracts from the mag’s propulsive pace.
[continued in The Eternals Annual #1]
[last issue: The Eternals #11]
[next issue: The Eternals #13]

The Eternals #11

July 21, 2012

Jack Kirby
May 1977
****
This mag follows a fractal pattern, w/ each issue expanding a plot from earlier. A global gathering of the titular superman introduces a polar clan—who, significantly, have infiltrated the Kremlin as voices of moderation. But to no avail: bellicose Russians attempt to nuke a Celestial space god.
[last issue: The Eternals #10]
[next issue: The Eternals #12]

The Eternals #10

July 20, 2012

Jack Kirby
April 1977
*****
This mag derives its power from its novelistic, big/little scope. As History occurs—space gods visit Earth—protagonists act & react in great & small ways. A leader summons his people to confer; a star-crossed couple loses another opportunity for love; a heroine shows compassion for monsters.
[last issue: The Eternals #9]
[next issue: The Eternals #11]

The Eternals #9

July 19, 2012

Jack Kirby
March 1977
****
Kirby has fallen into a rhythm w/ this book, expanding its scope w/o losing momentum. But despite adding characters to its roster, this issue feels a little thinner than others. Instead, it’s a big setpiece—arena combat btw a berserker & a monster—that delivers bone-jarring action.
[last issue: The Eternals #8]
[next issue: The Eternals #10]

The Eternals #8

July 18, 2012

Jack Kirby
February 1977
****
Another trope added to this rich tapestry: a friendship, once romantic, btw a Deviant general & an Eternal warrior-princess. But she’s disgusted at the Darwinian eugenics practiced by his allies in mythic Lemuria. Kirby keeps spitting out ideas, tho’ he promises gladiator combat in next ish.
[last issue: The Eternals #7]
[next issue: The Eternals #9]

The Eternals #7

July 17, 2012

Jack Kirby
January 1977
*****
Unable to apprehend the enormity of the Celestials, a trio of SHIELD agents toss an A-grenade that may seal Earth’s fate. Kirby deftly conjures true awe for these sci-fi gods via their silent enormity & faceless space armor. In this self-contained epic, he’s also created a rough proto graphic novel.
[last issue: The Eternals #6]
[next issue: The Eternals #8]

The Eternals #6

July 16, 2012

Jack Kirby
December 1976
****
A battle on NYC streets segues into a classroom debate at City College (!). Kirby continues to elaborate on his New Age mythos, constantly enlarging his cast & scope. He rations the sightings of his host of space gods, however. Fortunately, he’s got the rich chars of Gen. Kro & the spirited Sersi.
[last issue: The Eternals #5]
[next issue: The Eternals #7]

The Eternals #5

July 15, 2012

Jack Kirby
November 1976
****
Kirby revises the Olympians in Jungian style, reimagining the pantheon as a mountaintop science utopia of supermen. But his comic gets its depth from the human tension btw superstition & courage. Only when the blue-collar cops stare down the demons do the heroes arrive, cavalry-like, to save NYC.
[last issue: The Eternals #4]
[next issue: The Eternals #6]

The Eternals #4

July 14, 2012

Jack Kirby
October 1976
****
A cynical worldview dominates this mag—not Stan Lee’s humanism but Kirby’s darker vision of humanity ruled by impulses. The demonic Deviants exploit this panic, sacking NYC to ignite a war btw us & the celestial titans. Even the vivacious Sersi glowers at mortal fears & zaps ’em w/ “magic.”
[last issue: The Eternals #3]
[next issue: The Eternals #5]

The Eternals #3

July 13, 2012

Jack Kirby
September 1976
****
The secret war btw supermen & mutants for the fate of Earth hits NYC. But ordinary folks, like this mag’s damsel, fear the heroes’ grandeur as much as the villains’ horror. Kirby isn’t about characters—even his plotting can feel old hat—but he delivers on monumental concepts & majestic ideas.
[last issue: The Eternals #2]
[next issue: The Eternals #4]

The Eternals #2

July 12, 2012

Jack Kirby
August 1976
*****
In a ruined Incan temple, immortals prepare for the arrival of cosmic gods & a fifty-year judgment! Kirby elaborates on a secret history of Earth, of good and evil supermen transformed into myth. Especially strong is the sense of scope—of beings, time, and actions far beyond human comprehension.
[last issue: The Eternals #1]
[next issue: The Eternals #3]

The Eternals #1

July 11, 2012

Jack Kirby
July 1976
*****
In an exhilarating debut, Kirby lays out a holy comic-book cosmology. Eons ago, space gods mutated primates (a la 2001) to create super-races humanity knows nothing about. This mag shows an artist at one w/ his creativity, tho’ the stylized script & art aren’t for conventional readers.
[next issue: The Eternals #2]

The Avengers #16

June 17, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & Don Heck
May 1965
****
Recognizing the need to shake up this formulaic mag, editor Lee revises its mission by changing its cast. Cap excepted, the square-jawed heroes step aside for reformed criminals from other mags, antiheroes w/o titles of their own. The combat’s perfunctory; this ish aims for drama, not action.
[last issue: The Avengers #15]
[next issue: The Avengers #17]

The Avengers #15

June 16, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & Don Heck
April 1965
**
Staging a battle royale btw the superteam & their evil reflection, the Masters of Evil, on the streets of NYC, this conventional ish acts as climax for the original lineup. The shake-up will help, since the all-star cast has been straightlaced, even square, ever since Cap replaced the wild-card Hulk.
[last issue: The Avengers #14]
[next issue: The Avengers #16]

The Avengers #14

June 15, 2012

Stan Lee, Paul Laiken, & Larry Lieber // Jack Kirby & Don Heck
March 1965
***
Lots of hands work on #14, but it’s Kirby’s imagination that directs them. So a twisty plot links a critically wounded Wasp, a hunt for a lung specialist, the secret Arctic citadel of pale blue aliens, & finally, an interstellar war! It’s worth lingering over the King’s strange city & war machines.
[last issue: The Avengers #13]
[next issue: The Avengers #15]

The Avengers #8

June 9, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
September 1964
****
A UFO brings a boastful despot to Earth, but he’s not an alien, he’s a time traveller! Curiously, Marvelites have seen this guy Kang before—in ancient Egypt, v. the FF! Still, this issue’s plot is generic, and aside from a crazy uniform, so’s the artwork (graded on a Kirby curve, anyway).
[last issue: The Avengers #7]
[next issue: The Avengers #9]

The Avengers #7

June 8, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
August 1964
*****
Nearing its anniversary, The Avengers becomes a monthly mag—so Lee & Kirby stage a helluva fight! A siren of Asgard hypnotizes Thor into fighting his teammates. And Captain America faces Zemo, the Nazi who killed his sidekick in WW2. Cap, a true war vet, burns w/ neurotic guilt at the kid’s death!
[last issue: The Avengers #6]
[next issue: The Avengers #8]