Marvel Comics has announced that this summer it will be releasing King-Size Kirby, an enormous 800-plus page hardcover collection of some of the best work of Jack “King” Kirby, the legendary comic book artist was always the company’s most shining light even though at times it treated him like its blackest sheep.
Kirby co-created Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Black Panther, the X-Men, The Fantastic Four, The Inhumans, Captain America, The Avengers and, if you asked him, Spider-Man. You may have noticed these are the basis for Marvel’s current multi-billion dollar media machine. If there’s something you like about American comic books or superheroes, it’s likely it can be traced back to Kirby, whose dynamic style was so influential that even Marvel’s competitors adopted elements of it as grown-up Kirby fans started finding work at those companies.
Unfortunately, Kirby wasn’t always done right by the company he helped make a success. He spent much of the later part of his life in nasty battles with Marvel over such things as contracts and trying to get his original artwork returned. Kirby died in 1994, but the fight continued post-mortem, as in 2009 Kirby’s heirs attempted to regain the copyrights for some of Kirby’s iconic characters.
The lengthy battle recently reached a settlement in September and although the terms weren’t disclosed, Marvel has now been crediting Kirby as the co-creator of the characters within its comics.
So perhaps the book can be seen as Marvel’s celebration of putting the long fight behind it and recognizing Kirby’s contributions to the company. Or it could be Marvel putting out a quick cash grab because it finally can. We’ll never know for sure, but the glowing praise heaped on Kirby in Marvel’s press release and the title of the book, which plays on Kirby’s Marvel nickname “King” from the old Bullpen Bulletins columns in Marvel Comics, certainly seems to indicate the former.
Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso had this to say in a Marvel press release.
“If there were a Mount Rushmore of American comic book artists, Jack Kirby would be front and center,” Alonso said.
It certainly a book worth buying. Instead of just focusing on the same well-known superhero comics that get constantly reprinted, the book features some of Kirby’s early work in romance and westerns, as well as his work on a few lesser known superheroes. It also includes his very first work for Marvel in Red Raven issue one.
Here’s a run-down of what the book includes from the press release:
KING-SIZE KIRBY collects material from RED RAVEN #1; MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #13; CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS (1941) #1, 7; TALES TO ASTONISH #5; RAWHIDE KID #17; AMAZING ADVENTURES (1961) #1, STRANGE TALES #89, #94 and #114; TEEN-AGE ROMANCE #84; FANTASTIC FOUR #1, #48-51, #57-60 and ANNUAL #5; INCREDIBLE HULK #3; TWO-GUN KID #60; LOVE ROMANCES #103; AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #8; SGT. FURY #6 and #13; AVENGERS #4; TALES OF SUSPENSE #59; X-MEN #9; THOR #134-136 and #155-157; NOT BRAND ECHH #1; AMAZING ADVENTURES (1970) #1-2; CAPTAIN AMERICA’S BICENTENNIAL BATTLES; CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #200; ETERNALS #7; DEVIL DINOSAUR #1; and WHAT IF? #11
The book will be out July 2015. No price point in the press release, but expect it to be expensive. Marvel also announced it will be giving away a free Avengers magazine in March celebrating Kirby’s Avengers work.