In the hierarchy of comic book legends the name Jack Kirby and Joe Simon obviously stand tall. Jack ‘King’ Kirby was responsible for co-creating many of the Marvel Comics characters that we have enjoyed watching in the movie theaters these last few years. The Fantastic Four, the Hulk, the X-Men, Thor, Magneto, Iron Man, the Silver Surfer, and of course Captain America to name just a few. Captain America was co-created with his editor/friend Joe Simon at Timely Comics back in 1940 but that was only the beginning of their working relationship and the two crafted some wonderful stories and characters throughout their careers.
Thanks to our friends at Titan Books I was given the opportunity to review an upcoming collection from the Joe Simon and Jack Kirby library, this volume focusing on the Science Fiction comic tales of the talented duo.
The book is a 352 page hardback that collects over 20 years worth of sequential art and features an introduction by comic artist Dave Gibbons (Doctor Who, Watchmen). Introductions to the body of the duo’s work from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s is presented by Peter Sanderson (One of the curators of the former Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art). The beautiful art restoration for the stories feature colors that all but pop off the page, masterfully handled by Harry Mendryk.
Collected in this volume you will find adventure tales of heroes like the Blue Bolt who uses his super powers and lightning gun to wage battle against the forces of the subterranean Green Sorceress. This collection also contains over 40 one-shot tales from comic series such as Alarming Tales, Black Cat Mystic, Race for the Moon, Blast-Off, and Unearthly Spectaculars.
Two of the stand out stories from this collection are the 1957 “The Fourth Dimension is a Many Splattered Thing!” which is a rather obscure Jack Kirby story in which a man enters a dimensional portal and finds himself and the landscape he discovers is all in abstract. Also from 1957 and in fact the same first issue of Alarming Tales is “The Last Enemy!” and it features a time traveler that visits 2514 A.D. and discovers a world inhabited by bipedal animals that have inherited the Earth and involved after an atomic war wiped out the Human race. The significance of this is explained by Peter Sanderson, this tale was published a full six years before the novel, Planet of the Apes, by French author Pierre Boulle.
In this volume there are inking contributions by the likes of Reed Crandall (EC Comics), Angelo Torres (MAD Magazine), and Al Williamson (Star Wars, Flash Gordon).
Any comic fan or student of sequential art should get their hands on this volume, you can pre-order it for yourself at Amazon.Com and you should be able to find it in a book store or comic book shop near you on June 4th.