35 of the Very BEST Jack Kirby Panels
Jack Kirby, the artist responsible for single-handedly defining (and redefining) the comic book medium, could draw. Scratch that. “Draw” is too simple – to mortal – a word to properly convey Jack Kirby’s artistic ability. A word that might convey his artistic acumen is “channels”—Jack Kirby channels churning cosmic tapestries and the armored, godly space-leviathans stirring within them.
Sorry for the comic book melodrama, but Jack Kirby’s art comes from somewhere else -- a place where dream, psychosis, psychedelia, and technologically evolved super-folk dwell in kaleidoscopic dimensions fastened with infinite, spiritual circuity.
So, in no particular order and completely dependent on my whims, I present to you, fearless reader, the most powerful comic panels and consciousness-expanding covers ever conceived by the dark matter-smoking king of comics, JACK KIRBY!
But first, something a little more terrestrial:
Captain America #1 (1941)
Along with writer Joe Simon, Jack created a patriotic comic book icon whose purpose was to strengthen America’s resolve in the face of Hitler’s delusional plans for world domination. YAY! So, how does one properly convey America’s resolve AND its utter disdain for the Nazi party? By illustrating the complete annihilation of Hitler’s glass jaw with Cap’s stone-carved fists of
Captain America (1976-1978)
Through the decades, and after bouncing back and forth between DC (National) and Marvel Comics (Timely/Atlas), Jack returned to the character he helped create. So, as the new artist AND writer of Captain America, Jack touched on the volatile racial climate, American elitism, and the dangers of psychic bombs instigating unhealthy levels of anger and paranoia.
Ok, let’s talk cosmic.
The Eternals (1976-1978)
In 1976, Jack wrote and drew a series based on immortal super-folks made super/immortal by the continent-sized hands of the Celestials – a race of super-evolved, incalculably old and powerful space gods standing thousands of miles high and given to galactic genetic tinkering.
The series focused on one such group of Eternals, their dwellings both terrestrial and cosmic, their histories both terrestrial and cosmic, other races condemned or empowered by the Celestials’ tinkering (the Deviants), and of course, the Celestials themselves. Let’s have a look, shall we?
A close-up look at the strangely armored Celestial!
When the Celestials arrived on Earth 5-million years ago, they created 2 distinct races through genetic repurposing: the superior and long-lived Eternals and the monstrous, genetically unstable grotesqueries below – the Deviants! And no, they did NOT get along. This was apparently their first game of interspecies badminton.
The Celestials are immeasurably powerful SOBs, but NOT indestructible according to the following “claptrap.”
Why, it’s the mountain-top home of the Eternals – welcome to Olympia!
And how do the Celestials cross the infinite void? In style:
Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth (1972-1976)
Jack Kirby was tasked with creating a world similar to Planet of the Apes – a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by an unclear and ominously mentioned catastrophe knows as the “Great Disaster.” This was a world filled with intelligent bipedal beasts, the decimated remains of civilization, a nearly-extinct humanity relegated to perpetually hunted tribes, and pockets of great and terribly appropriated technology. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Who’s that boy suffering at the hands of robots, self-aware beasts, and probing Kirby-tech tendrils? Why, that’s Kamandi – the last boy on Earth who has yet to discover the last t-shirt on Earth.
Fantastic Four (1961)
Co- created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four depicted a realism never before seen in comics – a realism expressed by grounded characters dealing with the extreme predicaments of untested super-science, war-like alien civilizations, and mind-bending science fiction spliced with the consciousness-expanding zeitgeist of the 1960s.
Dealing with forever peckish cosmic gods, extra-dimensional warlords, incredibly powerful super-beings made so by more cosmic gods, and permanently masked monarchs, the Fantastic Four traveled to the farthest reaches of space while revealing the infinite cosmos within.
The Fourth World Saga (1971-1975)
During Jack’s legendary tenure at DC, he created an interlinked series of books based on powerful space gods hailing from a higher dimension known as the “Fourth World.” This new cosmic mythology was built upon an ageless conflict between the NEW GODS – a benevolent race of space-deities residing on the planet New Genesis and ruled by the munificent Highfather – and the entropy-worshipping forces of Darkseid, an invincible dark god dwelling on the hell-planet Apokolips.
The Fourth World Saga was told throughout four distinct series – New Gods, Mister Miracle (a New Gods expatriate), The Forever People (a bunch of younger New Gods), and Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen.
It was the perfectly salted Kirby stew – a blend of mythology, living technology , and extravagant, counter cultural psychedelia.
So, buckle yourself securely to the Mobius Chair and enjoy the searing four-dimensional visuals your puny 3D minds can’t hope to comprehend!
It’s Darkseid, and he’s enforcing his daily decree: MASS EXTERMNATION!
Yes, there are alien space giants lashed to unthinkable devices meant for puncturing the “Source Wall,” a final barrier lining the edge of the Multiverse.
Don’t greet Orion – the son of Darkseid but proud denizen of New Genesis –with “mechanical dogs.” He’ll handily dispatch them with his invulnerable space scooter and the incredible Astro Force!
2001: A Space Odyssey (1976-1977)
Jack not only adapted Stanley Kubrick’s seminal film based on Arthur C. Clarke’s seminal novel, he expanded the story with an ongoing series lasting 10 issues. Did jack do the quiet, visually daunting space epic justice? Ooooooh, yeah.
Well, that was a blast. Sure, there were about 15-million (an exaggeration) to choose from, but these struck my fancy. Not too shabby, eh?