In 1975, the word was given: Jack’s Back. We read it first in Stan’s Soapbox on the Bullpen Bulletins page, then it re-echoed through fanzines like the Comic Reader. Fans that also read the Distinguished Competition (DC Comics for you young uns), knew that Jack was leaving, as evidenced by his decreasing role over there. Marvel die-hards who also subscribed to FOOM got an advance preview of what was to come…
Jack Kirby, super-hero warrior of the pencil, was returning back to the bosom of Marvel. This issue detailed Kirby’s plans for Captain America as well as a special adaption of 2001 A Space Odyssey. And they hinted at a future collaboration with Stan Lee on the Silver Surfer.
I had a mixed reaction hearing this news. I loved Kirby’s Jimmy Olsen, New Gods and Mister Miracle over at DC. What I knew of Kirby’s Fantastic Four and Thor came from reprints like Marvel’s Greatest Comics—I had started reading Marvel at precisely the time Kirby jumped ship. While I loved those classic FF stories…as time progressed, I came to admire a slightly deeper level of writing from guys like Steve Englehart, who wrote Captain America from issue 153 to 186 (1972-1975). Three years of the greatest Captain America arc ever written in my eyes: the racist doppelganger Cap\Bucky of the 1950s, the Secret Empire headed by Richard Nixon, the Nomad arc, topped off by the Red Skull’s return. Ed Brubaker has been mining this material since he started his Cap run.
Yes, Kirby was back—but wait a minute—that meant Steve Englehart was not coming back!
Shit! That was my feeling. Looking back, it was like a hostage swap. Marvel got Kirby, DC got Englehart, who worked on Justice League and his famous Batman/Detective run with Marshall Rogers.
This is a weird way to begin a 1970s Kirby tribute. I still bought his 70s era Marvel comics: Cap, 2001, Eternals, Black Panther, and yes—Devil Dinosaur. I thought they were bizarre and funky and definitely not as hip as the work produced by Englehart, Don McGregor, and Steve Gerber. They weren’t as good as his DC Comics work or the old FF run. I’ve appreciated this material more as time has progressed. I think Kirby produced some great covers during this period, which I am going to feature here over the next few days.
Jack Kirby’s cover to Captain America 193 was iconic. Even better, it was inked by John Romita. I know a lot of you guys are gonna say that Romita’s inks overpowered Kirby on this cover. But I think it’s the perfect blend, a great Kirby pose followed with Romita detailing. I think this cover is just as good as Captain America #100 (the first silver age issue). You have to love that cover blurb: King Kirby is Back—And Greater Than Ever!
The back cover to FOOM #11 featured Jack Kirby sitting back and dreaming up the covers to Cap 193 and 194. I don’t know who did this one, if I had to guess, I would say it was Marie Severin.
I am curious if anyone else alive in the 70s had the same reaction to Kirby’s taking over Captain America? Or did you say, throw that bum Englehart out? Let me know your thoughts. Nuff Said!
Update: Comments from my old MT blog...