Tag Archives: Jack Kirby

CCL Podcast #333 – Dark Knight 1, John Blake 0

Collected Comics Library Podcast #333
31.3Mb; 34m 04s

Nothing says summer like a good blockbuster super-hero movie and I’ve seen the three big ones: The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises. While I can say Avengers was may favorite, I don’t necessarily have a least favorite. Batman is so different in tone from the fun popcorn flicks of the previous two it’s a bit hard to compare. All three had problems, too. From a fan-boy perspective I had the most issues, with Dark Knight Rises. In a name it’s John Blake. I didn’t hate the character, I just hated the ruse we were put under. And now that the secret is coming out I wonder how Batman historians will look at this interpretation. After all, this is the only “character” that had a major change from his original incarnation. We didn’t get that from Bruce, Alfred, Gordon, Harvey, Scarecrow, Joker, Selina, Bane or Ra’s. With Spidey it seemed that everything, I mean everything, revolved around Oscorp. I won’t go into spoilers here, I’ll save it for today’s podcast.

I also have some major updates to the CCL website, itself. I added in the full Table Of Contents for Wonder Woman from Bonanza Books (1972) and Jules Feiffer’s The Great Comic Book Heroes. Both can be found in the righthand sidebar near the bottom of the page. Feel free download and share! In the Library section I added the four volume B.P.R.D. Plague Of Frogs Hardcovers. This has been a long time coming. In the next few days, I’ll be adding in the Hellboy Library editions. I also added more information to The Joe Simon and Jack Kirby Library of books from Titan. Look for new entries for The Best Of and Crime books. Simon & Kirby Superheroes and Science Fiction will be added soon. Lastly I do have plans to create an IDW section. This will house entries for the all of the Artist’s Editions, TMNT Ultimate Collections, 30 Days Of Night, Richard Stark’s Parker, IDW Premiere HC’s and a full, complete checklist for their 6×9, softcover Omnibus editions. It’s going to be a fun task and I welcome any help.

For now, let’s get on with the show…

Chris

Links Of Note:
The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy (Abrams)
Comic Book Page Podcast presents: Comic-Con 2012 Podcast Panel
Distinguished Comic Book Podcast Episode 038: The Revolutionary Work of Steve Ditko

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DC To Publish Spirit World by Jack Kirby HC

It came across the Rich’s Bleeding Cool blog today (via Amazon.com listing) that DC will publish Spirit World by Jack Kirby HC in April 2012 and have a retail price of $39.99. It’s likely that this book will part of DC Comics Signature line.

Besides, his 1970′s DC work that includes, The Fourth World saga, The Demon, O.M.A.C. and The Losers, Kirby dabbled in horror: Spirit World #1 (Fall 1971), a magazine that was a mix of horror, mystery and a touch of fantasy. It didn’t catch on and the subsequent Kirby stories that were slated for issue #2 series were eventually rolled into Weird Mystery Tales #1-3 (1972). That series was more in tune with the established House of Mystery and The Witching Hour and ran for 24 issues.

Finally, there was another story that was slated for Spirit World #2 but found life in
Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #6 (July-August 1972). Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion was first published as The Dark Mansion Of Forbidden Love, a romance title but changed name and format with #5 and ran until #15.

FYI, Amazon.com also lists this book as 108 pages which is in tune for all the work on the titles Kirby worked on listed above. It is a bit lopsided at $39.99, but I expect an introduction by Mark Evanier (who else?) and a few pencil and/or sketch pages (from TwoMorrows) which have been commonplace in these nice collected editions.

For the Kirby enthusiast, and more importantly the completist, this Spirit World hardcover will be a welcome addition to the library.

For even more info on Jack Kirby’s horror work, check out Jack Kirby Collector 13, TwoMorrows Publishing

CCL Podcast #313 – Trading Captain America II

Collected Comics Library Podcast #313
25.6MbKb; 26m 38s

It’s Christmas in July! Not only is it the week of San Diego Comic Con 2011, but we also have the Captain America movie and a huge announcement from DC Comics i.e. all 52 #1 issues in one giant (Absolute) hardcover.
This is actually the third time that I’ve covered Cap. The first was CCL #76 and the second was CCL #225. Today, I pick up from June 2009 and go over all the collected editions that have been published – and a few that are upcoming.
It’s a long compehensive list, but worth listening to if you havn’t been collecting Captain America in a while or are new to him altogether.
Lastly, I go over some pre Comic Con news on The Walking Dead, Interview With The Vampire, Flashpoint and Legion Of The Super-Heroes Volume 13. Plus I answer an e-mail from a listener who thinks I talk too much Marvel. I guess this is a bad day to counter that.

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Sunday Review – Marvel Masterworks: The Human Torch Volumes 1-2

Let’s get this out of the way early, I liked the Fantastic Four movies. Yes, they were loaded with bad acting, but so are a lot of movies. But com’on we all went to the theater to see the Human Torch special effects. My son also enjoyed them (he is now 11 and we own them on DVD), and they are the types of live action superhero movies that we can watch together, unlike The Dark Knight, and he doesn’t have to follow some drawn out plot, like the X-Men movies. Speaking of Johnny Storm, he’s just plane cool. I fondly remember as a kid of the 70′s not wanting to be Spider-Man or Superman, but a guy who could fly and set things on fire at will (it was a rough childhood). As I grew older, my interests grew up with me, but Johnny stayed the same, he was even a nuisance and crybaby at times. I guess that’s his nature and the producers whole heartily incorporated his narcissism into the movies. Too bad really, because I think it’s time that Johnny grew up into the hero that he was born to be. Of course that may be a problem being that the Human Torch is “dead” now.

While Reed, Sue and Ben have seemingly moved on from Johnny’s demise to create the Future Foundation with Spider-Man (geez, how many team and solo books can he be in anyway?) this is a perfect time to get reacquainted with ‘ol Hot Head before his expected return in Fantastic Four #600 in 2012. And there’s no better place to learn about his roots then a visit, not to the early Fantastic Four comic books (which are great in of themselves), but to the Human Torch short story, solo adventures that ran in Strange Tales #101-134 and are collected in Marvel Masterworks: The Human Torch Volumes 1-2.

If you know your Marvel history then you know that the FF #1 predated the debut of Spider-Man (Amazing Fantasy #15) by about 10 months; November 1961 vs. August 1962. But let’s not forget that the FF appeared in Spider-Man #1 (Mach 1963), setting the stage for the friendly feud between Spidey and Torch, and interestingly enough there was no Fantastic Four book in that hot summer month; #6 was held off until September. But it’s October, 1963 when things really heat up.

Strange Tales was started in 1951, as part of Atlas Comics horror line. As that genre wained, thanks in part to Fredric Werthem, Stan Lee thought that a superhero should be added and since Spider-Man had his own title and the Fantastic Four was popular, there was no better character to take over, and add a bit of a rivalry, Johnny Storm, The Human Torch. Of course Johnny was the Silver Age and second Human Torch. The first being created by Carl Burgos in 1939 for Marvel Mystery Comics and ran from #1-98 and in Human Torch #1-35. Both comics were cancelled in 1949 and after a short resurrection (along with Captain America and the Sub-Mariner in the 1950′s), the Golden Age original faded into obscurity until Fantastic Four Annual #4 (November, 1966).

Johnny’s adventures in Strange Tales differed slightly from Fantastic Four as it was geared for a little younger audience. Here, Lee was more focused on action then science, more earth born street level thugs then cosmic fears from beyond. Johnny was more like his new rival Spider-Man, having to go to high school, have a girl-friend and having to fit in. I can only imagine kids in the early 60′s arguing on the playground who was the better hero (we adults do this now on our own playgrounds called forums). So just keep that in mind if and when you pick these books up.

As for the comics themselves, they are a lot of fun and full of nostalgia and loaded with some of the best talent one book has ever seen. Stan Lee and his brother Larry Lieber do the majority of the writing, but Jerry Siegel (Superman) comes by for #112-113. As for the artwork, that job is left up to Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers who at times turn it over to Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, Bob Powell and the aforementioned, Carl Burgos.

Let’s look at some of the more notable comics:

  • Issue #101 is a reintroduction to the origin of the Human Torch and the Fantastic Four.
  • Issue #106 brings the four of them together (boy, that was quick!), and Reed, Sue and Ben come back for #108-109 (and make other short appearances throughout the run).
  • Issue #107 is one of those books that can’t get reprinted enough; it’s Johnny vs. Namor, The Sub-Mariner in an epic battle that should not be missed! It’s also the fourth appearance of Namor in the Silver Age and his first outside of the FF title.
  • Sandwiched in between Siegel’s brilliant #112 and #113, there is Strange Tales Annual #2. This particular book has Stan writing and Steve Ditko inking Jack Kirby’s pencils and even features Spider-Man – you won’t find this comic in the Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks or The Steve Ditko Visionaries HC!
  • Issue #114 (November 1963) gets even better with the return of Captain America. As a reader of that time, it would have been awesome to witness his return (except his red shorts), but then be somewhat disappointed with the surprise ending. But fear not because Steve Rogers would be resurrected for good, a few months later in The Avengers #4 (March, 1964).
  • Skipping ahead, Johnny’s buddy, Ben Grim comes by and teams up for the run of #121-134. Reading the issues, I’m not sure this move was necessary. One the good side they battle Namor in #125, but this team-up concept without Reed and Sue, helped end the Human Torch in Strange Tales to make way for the super spy, Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

As for the extras in these two Masterworks, Volume 1 only contains an introduction by Dick Ayers while Volume 2 has Bruce Canwell doing that duty. In the second volume there is cover art for the complete 8-issue reprint run (1974-75) of The Human Torch. This series collected the Silver Age, Atlas Age and Golden Age comics that featured The Human Torch. Both volume have creator biographies.

Marvel Masterworks: The Human Torch Volume 1 HC (Variant Volume 66)
Written by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jerry Siegel, Robert Bernstein and Ernie Hart
Art by Dick Ayers, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko
$50.00 ($55.00), 272 pages, Marvel Comics
Collects: Human Torch stories from Strange Tales #101-117 and Strange Tales Annual #2

Marvel Masterworks: The Human Torch Volume 2 HC (Variant Volume 114)
Written by Stan Lee and Larry Ivie
Art by Dick Ayers, Bob Powell, Carl Burgos and Jack Kirby
$50.00 ($55.00), 256 pages, Marvel Comics
Collects: Human Torch stories from Strange Tales #118-134

Also recommended:
Marvel Masterworks: The Golden Age Human Torch HC Volumes 1-3
Marvel Masterworks: The Atlas Era Heroes featuring Marvel Boy, Human Torch, Captain America and Sub-Mariner HC Volumes 1-3

Sunday Review – The Simon and Kirby Superheroes

As the reprint industry continues to grow, quality of the reproduction and completeness of the work by artists and writers is at an all time high. Every week scores of brand new books come out from no less then a dozen publishers. Some of these books are massive undertakings with editors sifting through forgotten heroes of yesteryear and restoring the old beat-up originals so a new generation can relive and, in some cases, revive great characters from the Golden and Silver Ages.

That’s the case with Steve Saffel who continues his reprint series on Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Titan Books recently released a follow-up to 2009’s The Best of Simon and Kirby with Simon and Kirby Superheroes. This book collects everything just as it says it does and in a wonderful full color fashion. Saffel took his time in constructing the 480 page hardcover pouring his love into every page he edited. The well crafted book shows that he cares for the preservation of the material and is not out to get a quick buck from releasing cheap and easy reprints and where getting the book to market is more important then the quality of the work. Some restoration had to be done to a few of the comics but rest assured it was done with the hands of Harry Mendyk, who worked with Saffel on the first book.

Any fan of either comic book legend will want to buy this and add it to their shelf that would undoubtedly include work from major publishers like DC and Marvel. The Simon and Kirby Superheroes also contains an insightful introduction by Neil Gaiman that gives us an account of just how and why he optioned to do his own revival of Sandman. Gaiman also reminds us that not only has there never been another Jack Kirby, but there has “never been another Joe Simon, as well”. Another person to take us our journey through time and art is Jim Simon, Joe Simon’s son. He recounts the 1940’s and 1950’s and offers us an uncommon family viewpoint of these two great men and there process.

Sadly, a few of the series are short lived so as fast as you get acquainted with a hero, he quickly goes away. Below is a listing of how the book is broken down by character and the issues collected:

  • The Black Owl, Prize Comics #7-9, 1940-41
  • Stuntman, Stuntman #1-3, 1946
  • The Vagabond Prince, Black Cat Comics #7-8, 1946
  • Captain 3-D, Captain 3-D #1, 1953
  • Fighting American, Fighting American (Volume 1) #1-7, 1954-55, and (Volume 2) #1-2, (1966
  • Private (Lancelot) Strong, The Double Life Of Private Strong #1-2, 1959 and Adventures Of The Fly #2, 1959
  • The Fly, Adventures Of The Fly #1-2, 1959 and The Double Life Of Private Strong #1, 1959

Some of these stories have never been published and also included are rare and unseen artwork. As good as this book is, I do have two issues to take to task:

  1. The dimensions of The Simon and Kirby Superheroes is 11.2 x 7.9 while The Best of Simon and Kirby is 12.2 x 9.1, therefore the two are different when lined up on my bookshelf. For a reprint  series of this importance, I’m surprised that they do not have coherent uniformity.
  2. Besides Simon and Kirby’s names there is no listing of other Artist or Writer credits. The only way I knew that Steve Ditko was involved on Captain 3-D was to read the text provided by Neil Gaiman and Jim Simon. I’m curious as to who else worked on these comics and the only way to do that is to hunt each individual comic down on the comics.org database.

Those two things won’t be a hindrance for me with future Simon and Kirby projects from Steve Saffel and Titan books. In fact here is a rundown of future volumes:

  • Joe Simon: The Man Behind The Comics
  • The Simon and Kirby Library: The Birth Of Romance
  • The Simon and Kirby Library: Crime Drama
  • The Simon and Kirby Library: Oh! The Horror

The Simon and Kirby Superheroes
Titan Books, 2010
480 pages, $49.95
A copy of this book was supplied to me by Titan Books

For more information on The Best Of Simon and Kirby, please listen to Collected Comics Library Podcast #233 – Interview with Steve Saffel, August 26, 2009