Monday, August 29, 2016

Manic Monday Triple Overtime--Kirby's Fifth World?!?

As we celebrate Kirby Week--really? We need a special week? Shouldn't we celebrate him, and whatever we love, every single day, special occasions be damned?--let's not forget what I feel is one of the less-celebrated periods in his career--the "second Marvel stint."

I'm not sure why, but people seem to over-praise Jack Kirby's DC Fourth World era, and be, at the very least, politely dismissive of that 1976-1978 era of work. In my opinion, for what that's worth.

It also seems to be the point of view of the comics company themselves. While DC cannot go 30 seconds without trying, for the umpteenth time, to revive one of Kirby's concepts (only to see it fail once again), Marvel kind of pretends it didn't happen and does astonishingly little with the wealth of concepts that Kirby created during his 70s work for them.

We all know the Captain America story. I mean, come on--MADBOMB!!

But Arnim Zola aside, not much from this period ever is even referred to, let alone used. Almost everything else from Cap's 70s is lionized, but Kirby's run gets a collective "Meh." And this was a period that had Captain America riding a motorized skateboard in a sport called Kill-Derby!!

Meanwhile, I've made no secret of my belief that...

the Eternals are superior to the New Gods.

Yes, I'm alone in that belief, apparently. Even Marvel seems to think less of them, as the Eternals have had many fewer attempts at a revival (often half-hearted attempts) than the New Gods, the Deviants have been completely forgotten, and aside from a wonderful Ikaris appearance in the wonderful All-New Invaders series, I'm pretty sure that no Eternal has shown their face in the Marvel Universe in about 8 years or so. The Celestials themselves are fairly firm in the Marvel Canon, but they rarely show up as more than background for other Cosmic doings.

And then there's this guy:

Granted, Devil Dinosaur's time period and persona made anything other than an occasional one-off guest appearance difficult...

...but the current (fabulous) Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur series shows that it wasn't too tough a nut to crack, and to make Devil more than something that fans joked about rather than took seriously.

And then there's this (please click to embiggen to full gloriousity):

Every likes to forget Kirby's 70s Black Panther series.

Yeah, it's become trendy to snobbishly dismiss it for not being as "relevant" as Don McGregor's Jungle Action run, as if the character's co-creator wasn't entitled to explore his own inclinations.

But man, those were some fun comic books...

And then there's this forgotten gem:

It will probably never be reprinted thank to licencing issues--c'mon, MGM and whoever has the rights right now, do you seriously expect someone to come knocking on your door with a better offer in 2016? But Kirby did a Treasury-Sized special adapting the movie...

...and then followed it up with an original series, following the "adventures" of the Monolith and Star Seeds in past, present and future!

And the last few issues introduced...

Machine Man!! (Kirby called him Mister Machine initially, but what the hell, right?) Everyone forgets Jack invented the guy! He even got his own spin-off series!!

He's had a few revivals, sort of, but he never caught on with the fans until Warren Ellis turned into an asshole in Nextwave, and for some reason that's the characterization that has connected with the fans. Go figure.

Anyway, I'm certain that it's just my inner Marvel Zombie speaking here, but pound for pound, I prefer Kirby's 70s Marvel work to his 70s DC work. Yes, I am a lonely man on this point.


Sampoerna Quatrain said...

Wow. You've given me something to think about, with lots of valid points. I agree that Kirby's 2nd Marvel stint is woefully undervalued...I'm not exactly sure why. You hit the nail on the head by referring to them as FUN. They are action-packed, kinetic (sometimes frantic), and leap off the page. The art is unparalleled. So what if his writing style was occasionally a tiny bit stilted? He was trying to capture a lightspeed creative flow...many writers today could do well to learn from him.

The only point where I deviate from your theses is that for me, the Fourth World is the top-most pinnacle, in a Kirby Mountain Range that has many, many pinnacles, and I'm a Marvel guy! I re-read it yearly like some people read Tolkien.

Sina said...'re not alone :) I love Kirby's last mainstream work he did with Marvel, there were some sweet things he did at DC, but his Marvel has always been the best :D

Warren JB said...

2001: A Space Odyssey, viewed through the lens of Jack Kirby? That sounds like the ultimate trip!

I have to admit (or, given the opinions here: fortunately) my first proper exposure to Machine Man was in Jeff Parker's run on Hulk, when he was teamed up with Rulk for a few adventures. Although that was a great run and Aaron was written as a very likeable character, I'd guess it flew under the radar for a lot of people for the single reason of 'Red Hulk'. (The amount of venom and bile I've seen directed at the character, even as Jeff made the title the best thing coming out of Marvel at the time...)
I've only seen a few scans if Nextwave, mostly the infamous Elsa Bloodstone 'victim' and Fin Fang Foom's trunks bits; and while it looks funny, I can imagine it and the characters becoming annoying and obnoxious in larger chunks. A bit like Deadpool...

Madman said...

Jack Kirby is not a good artist. His women all have the same face. His people all look alike. His figures are flat, even though Kirby tries his best to make them 3D with all sorts of ripples and reflections.

He had some great ideas, particularly in the early 60s when he and Stan Lee and others launched modern day Marvel Comics. But the features you have highlighted are just kinda boring.

He had some great layouts too.

But I'm just not gaga over Kirby

Tricks boy said...

I thought the no that kirby's work on 2001, a space odyssey, was the pinical of his work in the seventies and eighties.