Quick, gang, throw out something for me to top five next week.
This week, since I’ve been making my way through TwoMorrows enjoyable Kirby Five-Oh! and Jack’s on my brain, I’m going with my top five favorite Jack Kirby comic book series. Admittedly, I haven’t read them all (Marvel’s two-volume Eternals set and DC’s Demon Omnibus are on my nightstand, and I should be reading both in the next few weeks), but I’ve read a fair share and I just adore Jack’s work. Each series is a whole set of new challenges; Jack was always creating new ideas and characters, and I frequently wish that his creative spirit was honored the way his characters are.
But that’s another rant entirely, so without further ado, my top five Jack Kirby series:
5. OMAC (DC; 1974-1975) – Wage slave Buddy Blank loses his anonymous life when the A.I. satellite Brother Eye empowers him to become OMAC, the One Man Army Corps. OMAC is a sardonic commentary on the direction of mankind, full of faceless beings slotted into society’s cogs, and it was cancelled far too soon, before Kirby could fully develop the concept.
4. Mister Miracle (DC; 1971-1974) – The greatest escape artist on three worlds, Scott Free is bound by his legacy. The son of New Genesis’s Highfather, raised under the brutal thumb of Darkseid, Scott seeks out challenges of his own, but it constantly hounded by Darkseid’s forces. Kirby got to create lots of inventive traps, and provided us the best and creepiest versions of Granny Goodness and Vermin Vundabar in Mister Miracle. Plus, Scott was inspired by comics creator Jim Steranko.
3. Fantastic Four (Marvel; 1961-1970) – Paired with Stan Lee’s scripting, Jack balanced the squabbling, loving family dynamic of the Fantastic Four against the outlandish adventures that came from encounters with Dr. Doom, the Inhumans, Black Panther, Galactus and a planet full of Skrulls dressed as 30s mobsters! The series peaks from “This Man, The Monster” in #51 through the Inhumans/Black Panther stories that run until #63 or so.
2. Journey into Mystery/Thor (Marvel; 1962-1970) – Thor never had the family core that the FF had, but Kirby had a more powerful weapon in Asgard, and he took full advantage. In JiM and Thor, Kirby was able to open the book to any manner of science fiction or mythologic adventure, and many of the series’ best stories didn’t touch on Midgard. In fact, Thor’s secret identity, lame surgeon Dr. Donald Blake became such an afterthought that he was eventually written out of the series.
1. New Gods (DC; 1971-1972) – If Thor was epic, New Gods created a new standard for the term. The father/son conflicts, the tormented hero burdened by his ancestry, the brilliance of “The Pact” and “The Deathwish of Terrible Turpin,” it all made New Gods endlessly compelling. The material is ripe with conflict and pathos, and Kirby managed to wring it all out amid the most glorious carnage in comics history.
What are your favorite Jack Kirby comics, and why?
Oh, and if you’re itching for some great Kirby material, check out The Jack Kirby Collector and Kirby Five-Oh!. As soon as I catch up a few things, I’ll be taking Mark Evanier’s Kirby: The King of Comics out of the library and reporting on it for you all. Give me a month or so!