During August, comic books have a lot of big events. Also, Marvel’s Fantastic Four #1 came out on August 8, 1961, even though the cover says “1 November.” Jack Kirby, who co-created the FF with Stan Lee, was born on August 28, and he’s one of two creators who have had the most impact on comics in the history of the medium.
He died 30 years ago, but he left behind more than 50 years of stories and new ways to tell them that are still influencing comic books and modern genre fiction to this day.
Many of Kirby’s characters have stood the test of time, making him the “King.” This is why.
If you don’t like characters like Kirby’s Eternals, Marvel Studios is going to make a big movie about them in November to show how much people love them.
That shows how many ideas Kirby has.
That’s up to each person, but there’s likely no right answer. Still, Newsarama has chosen some of Kirby’s best work from his time at Marvel, DC, and even Timely Comics. We’re celebrating the King’s birthday, but we’re also celebrating his best work right now.
1. The Uncanny X-Men
Now, it’s hard to believe, but when the X-Men first came out, Marvel Comics didn’t think they were very good. Isn’t it true that they stayed around long enough to see the reboot in the ’70s that took the franchise to new heights?
They did, however, write a great story about five teenagers with powers that set them apart from the rest of the world. With the five original X-Men and their mentor Professor X, Kirby also made Magneto, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch. These characters have since become big parts of Marvel comics and movies, as well as many other classic X-Men villains.
Remember that the X-Men may not be in Kirby’s top ten best creations, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in the top ten best Kirby creations of all time.
2. The Incredible Hulk
First, Jack Kirby worked on the Hulk for a short time. Then, Kirby made the Hulk one of the most important characters in Marvel Comics because of his dedication to making the Hulk a main part of the Marvel Universe and the simplicity of the concept.
The Hulk, like most of Stan Lee’s Marvel characters, was made with him in mind. He’s a brilliant scientist who gained power through an atomic disaster, and he has to balance his heroics with internal turmoil all the time. A lot of people think of Hulk as a symbol of the Marvel Age, but he wasn’t even the first Marvel character. He is one of Kirby’s simplest and most well-known designs, though.
In one of Marvel’s most popular and praised ongoing series, The Immortal Hulk, he’s the main character. The series will soon come to an end with the 50th issue, though.
3. The Mighty Thor
Jack Kirby was a big fan of the Norse myth cycle, which is a story of death and rebirth with big characters and big adventures. Thor is Kirby’s first major look at the idea of deity. Later, he looked into it more in-depth with the Eternals and his Fourth World.
Though Kirby and Stan Lee came up with the idea for Thor together, Lee asked his brother, Larry Lieber, to write many of Thor’s early adventures. This left Kirby to design much of Marvel’s view of Asgard.
Thor lived in a corner of the Marvel Universe that was full of gods, monsters, living planets, epic heroes, and seemingly unstoppable threats. All of this was anchored by Kirby’s unique interpretation of ancient myths. Thor was one of Marvel’s first big characters, and his enemies and allies spread across the Marvel Universe from the very beginning.
With Thor: Love and Thunder, Thor will have made his fourth solo movie. This makes him one of the mainstays of the MCU. His brother, Loki, was also made by Kirby and Lee. The hit Loki Disney Plus streaming show was about Loki on his own.
4. Captain America
Jack Kirby’s first collaborator, Joe Simon, came up with the idea for Captain America. Kirby’s take on the sentinel of liberty was important for the character to take off. It was 80 years ago today that Captain America Comics #1 hit the stands. On the cover, he punched Hitler in the jaw. This kind of adventure and patriotism has never been seen before or since in superheroes with stars and stripes.
Simon came up with the first version of Captain America’s iconic costume, but he and Kirby worked together to make the character even better. The first issue’s art was done by Kirby because he was in love with the character. When it looked like two other artists were going to do the job, he did it himself. Kirby also helped make the Red Skull, Captain America’s most famous enemy.
In the 1960s, Kirby and his partner Stan Lee brought Captain America into the modern world. They put him on the Avengers and quickly made him one of Marvel’s best heroes. Kirby took the chance to change and expand on his ideas, putting Captain America right in the middle of the Silver Age Marvel Universe.
5. Machine Man / 2001: A Space Oddysey
It’s one of Jack Kirby’s less well-known but important works at Marvel. He made a version of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. There are a lot of good things about 2001 that still work today, and one of them is the wide cinematic canvas that Kirby himself used in his comic book works, like The Eternals.
He made it into a monthly series that introduced the character of Machine Man, a superhero who has since become part of the Marvel Universe and had his own book in 1978, when he had his own book. These two runs are important for fans of Kirby because of his interest in technology and god-like aliens.
6. Devil Dinosaur
He worked on a lot of different things when he came back to Marvel from DC in the late 1970s. Devil Dinosaur is one of the least known, but it is very important. This series only lasted for nine issues in 1978, but it has some of Kirby’s best and most dynamic art in it.
To show off the really big ideas he had for New Gods and Eternals as well as his love of monsters, which started in the 1950s. If you look at Kirby’s work, you won’t find anything like this run.
7. Black Panther
Comic book fans know that Black Panther was co-created by Jack Kirby for his first appearance in Fantastic Four #52, which came out in 1963. He also did the first twelve issues of the character’s solo title in 1977. These issues are important not only for Kirby’s art but because they could have an impact on the future of the MCU.
During Kirby’s run, fans get to see a different Black Panther from the future. This is the first time Marvel Comics has had a character like this, and with the rise of the multiverse in both comics and movies, it could have an impact on how Black Panther is shown on screen.
Jack Kirby is one of the best X-Men artists of all time. He helped make some of the most famous mutants, like Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Angel, and the Beast. Since then, it has become an important part of the Marvel Universe and the MCU.
There were a lot of new things and characters that Kirby came up with while he was writing the comics. Magneto, the Sentinels, and Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, are just a few examples.