Monday, November 26, 2007

kirby at marvel- captain america

After spending the first part of the 1970s at DC (where he did some of the strongest and most original work of his career), Jack Kirby went back to Marvel for a few years around 1976. He took over Captain America, a character he'd created with Joe Simon some 35 years earlier, and also worked on Black Panther (the first Black superhero, whom Kirby had created in the late 1960s) plus Marvel's adaptation of the Kubrick film "2001," which after the adaptation was spun off into its' own series, which in turn was spun off, briefly, into the Kirby-created "Machine Man." He also did the Devil Dinosaur series, as well as original "New Gods"-like material on the Inhumans and the Eternals.

In some ways, Kirby's 70s work at Marvel represented something of a step down from his work at DC. Though it was a character he'd played a role in creating, he seemed especially ill-suited at that time to work on Captain America. For one thing, Kirby had gotten a bit too cosmic and sci-fi oriented for the more straight-up superheroics of Captain America, and I think also his work had gotten a bit too violent at that point for a relatively title like Cap was in the mid-70s. Kirby's work was much more suited to some of the wild, esoteric stuff he did at DC, and served him better working on Black Panther, which had less established mythology to tend to, and the "2001"- inspired stuff.

It's interesting, actually, that aside from Captain America and some of the other major characters at Marvel that he helped create, Kirby tended to stay away from the flagship titles at both DC and again after his return to Marvel. He never drew a Superman series (though he did do Jimmy Olsen, which Superman often appeared in) or Batman or Wonder Woman, but rather focused on his own creations and more obscure characers like the Challengers of the Unknown and Green Arrow at DC. Despite being Marvel's top artist for many years, he also never worked on Spider-Man.

Anyway, here's some of Kirby's work on Captain America from 1975-1976. Visually, Kirby was definitely in his prime here, but I still contend that his expansive imagined was too constrained by this series, and that the writers on the series who followed him, first Roy Thomas, then Steve Gerber (who, along with Kirby, created Destroyer Duck in the 1980s as a way for both of them to channel their anger towards the way they were treated at Marvel), were better-suited to the material. Even so, enjoy....










Check back in a few, or whenever I think you deserve it, for more Kirby 70's Marvel stuff and the eventual Kinski onslaught (because I have kind of alot of Kirby stuff and have been really slow with the Kinski stuff, and have kind of alot of that as well, I may extend this theme into next year, though probably I'll take a month off in January to write about something else, I'll possibly return to Kinski vs. Kirby in February)...

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