When Jack “King” Kirby returned to Marvel in the mid-1970s, not only did he spend time on an old favorite, Captain America, but he also created some new characters that were absolutely mind-blowing. One at the top of the list has to be Machine Man. An android created by a scientist, that in turn was killed trying to remove the auto-destruct mechanism from him. Machine Man was introduced in the pages of 2001: A Space Odyssey (issue 8, 1977). This was another Kirby vehicle that was initially based on the film (Stanley Kubrick) and novel (by Arthur C. Clarke). Kirby eventually took the book in his own direction though, and brought more of his Bronze Age bombast with it.
Kirby eventually left Marvel in 1978/1979 (after issue nine of this series), but the title did go on for a few more issues with Steve Ditko on art. It was interesting, but not the all out craziness and cool of Kirby (some of that was definitely the writing, too). But we did get this awesomeness from the King for those first nine issues, and how glorious they are to behold! Written, edited, and penciled (cover as well, with possible inks by Mike Esposito) by Jack Kirby, inks and letters by Mike Royer, and colored by Petra Goldberg!
A post-apocalyptic world dominated by talking apes with an odd assortment of other talking creatures such as killer dolphins…yep. The unbridled imagination of Jack “King” Kirby (writer, editor, penciler) is something of wonder to us mere mortals, and it has been from his earliest works to his creations in the 1970s- work such as Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth!
The book has a Planet of the Apes meets Escape From New York kinda vibe to it, and that’s a wonderful combination. No, Kamandi isn’t Snake Plissken, but the general tone and war-torn future definitely match up. There’s quirkiness to this title that has all the charm you’d expect from a comic produced by Kirby. Every issue I own contains not just a wild story, but also multiple splash pages that will absolutely blow your mind!
The early issues were inked by Mike Royer (also inker on another great Kirby DC title during this era, The Demon), and other than Joe Sinnott and Bill Everett, he’s probably my favorite Kirby inker. The later issues were inked/lettered by D. Bruce Berry. His style fit Kirby pretty well too, but not quite as powerfully as Royer’s. My absolute favorite issue is 29, because of the Superman tie-in! Kirby was a creator that can make anything seem real, no matter how ludicrous it seems when you step back and look at it.
The Bronze Age was a great time in comic books. After a long stint with Marvel Comics, Jack Kirby decided to take his talents to South Beach…oh, sorry wrong guy. He decided to take his enormous talents (back) to DC Comics, where he could have free reign over the books he was going to create. This allowed the king to really go wild and let his imagination run free. One of the best things he created was the character called, Etrigan the Demon! Many have probably heard of this character, but might not have read any of the short-lived series. It’s definitely worth a look, especially when you see quirky issue like this one, where Etrigan battles a werewolf!
The exploits of Jack “King” Kirby (writer, penciler, editor), are well documented. That doesn’t mean myself and tons of others are ever going to stop slobbering over his greatness though. His imagination unbridled is simply astounding. After decades of creating, the 1970’s brought no slow down for him, and just solidified him even more as one of the true greats (if not the greatest) in the medium of all time. The man who shared some of the spotlight during this era, was Mike Royer (inks). His inks on this book, Kamandi, and others, gave Kirby’s pencils a uniformity and that’s definitely a compliment to his work.
I’ll admit, I really don’t care for “What If?” and you can dislike me for it. They can be fun, oh yes, but it just isn’t what I’m looking for in a comic book. That said, when you get a chance to grab an issue like this one, you cannot possibly pass it up! Seeing Lee and Kirby as Reed and the Thing, is enormous fun, and throw in Sol Brodsky as the Human Torch, and “Fabulous” Flo Steinberg as the Invisible Girl, and the book has to be a good one!
To see the pencils of Jack “King” Kirby, is nothing short of fascinating, no matter what the subject-matter. As the writer, penciler, and editor, he really went all in with this book, and gave us something special. The inks were by Mike Royer, and if you’ve seen their collaboration on DC comics “The Demon,” you know what they can do together. The letters were by Bill Wray and colors by Carl Gafford. If you get the chance, grab a copy if for nothing other than the Kirby artwork, it’s astonishing!
In the mid 1970’s, Marvel comics had a lot going good. The horror genre was pumping out books like crazy, the reprint era was in full swing, and the return of Jack Kirby cemented the company as the best in the business. The main man at Marvel for weird/wacky stories was undoubtedly Steve Gerber (and rightfully so, as no one can write those kind of great stories like he could), but Kirby gave him a run for his money during this era for sure! Anyway, is it even possible to not like a giant red T-Rex with a ape-like boy riding around on his back? Of course not! In this tale, Moonboy and DD run into a pack of humanoids that want to kill them, and if they don’t, the giant spider might!
Written, drawn, and edited by the king of comics, Jack Kirby! His contributions were already nothing short of legendary, but this era added some spice to the Kirby lore, and it will never be forgotten. A helping hand on inks was delivered by Mike Royer, colors by Petra Goldberg, and some editing assistance from Archie Goodwin!