Sunday, 25 November 2012


When jolly JACK KIRBY jumped ship from MARVEL to DC in
1970, the repercussions didn't really reverberate in Britain (or, at least,
my part of it) 'til around 1972. (Comics still mainly came to these shores
as ballast in ships, sometimes resulting in a delay of several months -
and even years in some instances.)

I remember leafing through issues of NEW GODS and FOREVER
PEOPLE in my local newsagent's and, although recognising Jack's
artistic style as the same one which had drawn most of my favourite
Marvel characters, not being too impressed by the rather drab colouring
and underwhelming characters. (The BLACK RACER anyone? Surely
an attempt to replicate the success of the SILVER SURFER, but just
being far too way-out - even for Kirby!)

I later came to appreciate certain aspects of Jack's FOURTH WORLD
comics (especially BEAUTIFUL DREAMER and BIG BARDA - even
LAURA CONWAY rang my bell), but for me, the King's best mag at DC
was - wait for it - SUPERMAN'S PAL JIMMY OLSEN. There are some
issues of this series where the dialogue is closer to the STAN LEE-scripted
collaborations Jack produced at Marvel. Sure, there were still examples of
Jack's clunky turn of phrase from time to time, but it didn't seem quite as
glaring as in Jack's other DC books.

To me, the Fourth World panoply of New Gods would've worked
better as supporting characters in FANTASTIC FOUR, much like the
INHUMANS, who I never considered interesting enough to have their
own series. Jack's Jimmy Olsen, however, worked like a dream.

Here, in tribute to 'the King', are all 15 covers to the most enjoyable
run of comics that Kirby produced for Marvel's 'Dynamic Competition'.
They're available in a softcover, two volume set entitled JIMMY OLSEN
ADVENTURES BY JACK KIRBY. Well-worth checking out.

Issue #140 was a non-Kirby Giant reprint issue, so isn't included here.


Anonymous said...

Jimmy Olson comics always seemed a bit gay to me but I liked New Gods.

Kid said...

Jimmy OLSON comics may have been a bit gay for all I know, but I never read any. I did, however read Jimmy OLSEN comics - and always found them to me extremly straight.

As for New Gods - Lightray and Orion were definitely a pair of screaming woofters.

Dougie said...

Olsen 135 was my introduction to the Fourth World characters and concepts. I had about 8 issues of this run -more than I did of New Gods and twice as many as I did of Forever People. Mr. Miracle, however, was probably my favourite and certainly the most readily available of the Kirby titles: a staggering 10 issues. With Barda and Co. it was also the sexiest!

Between the ages of 8 and 9, Kirby's work just blew my tiny mind. It was frightening, hugely imaginative and weirdly humorous.

Nowadays I can obviously see the same themes in their nascent form in FF, Cap, Thor etc. What I don't understand is why they haven't been mined to create movies like Marvel's more recent hits.

Dougie said...

"Gangster's Moll" Jimmy liked a bit of cross dressing- but so does kick boxing celebrity Alex Reid, allegedly.

Champions-era Iceman and Angel are another story...

Kid said...

It's surely only a matter of time, Dougie. I liked Mister Miracle myself and have all 18 Kirby issues. However, back then, any comic with ol' Supes just seemed to have the edge with me.

Can't remember if I ever read the Gangsters Moll story you refer to, but for a bit of cross-dressing, see the previous post to this one.

Anonymous said...

There were probably other DC comics that had a gay following but Jimmy Olsen led the field back in the day. He was also a transvestite and wore a watch bought for him by a man.

Kid said...

Not being an expert in either field I could well be wrong, but I thought gayness and cross-dressing were not necessarily the same thing. Tell, you what 'though - if it'll make you happy, we'll all bow to your obvious personal experience in the matter.

Comicsfan said...

I always thought it was odd to see Jimmy as some sort of menace--especially an evil menace--threatening Superman in some way. Particularly since these mags were supposed to be fronting the idea of Jimmy being Superman's "pal." You'd think tagging along with Superman on his adventures would be enough to give Jimmy something to do without warping his personality and/or changing his form, no? :)

Kid said...

I suppose it was done merely to provide a sense of drama and to make the readers wonder how things would be resolved. Although, come to think of it, Jimmy had quite a pre-Kirby history of changing into diverse versions of himself, did he not?

I seem to remember reading somewhere that Jimmy turning into a caveman was Jack's nod to DC bigwigs' requests to steer the mag closer to its roots. You know, turning into giant Turtle-boys and the like.

Anyone confirm that?

Anonymous said...

Kid, remember buying the second Don Rickles cover thinking he was Kirby. A strange crossover with the youth of America unlikely to have ever attended a Hollywood celebrity roast.


Kid said...

Think how we Brits felt - most of us had never even heard of Don Rickles.