I recently received a couple of collections of these (Thank you!). I vaguely recall reading an issue or two back in dinosaur times, but most of these are brand new to me. So, here are some superficial impressions!

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The Baron said:

2)I'm a little sketchy as to why King Solomon's tomb would be in Africa. Or how he had a robot bodyguard.

From what I have been able to find, King Solomon was thought to be buried in or near Jerusalem, but his tomb is lost. His treasures were thought to be buried in Africa, not him. Information about his robot bodyguard is apparently lost in the mists of time.



The Baron said:

 I once heard Mark Twain described as having a tin ear for prose - that is, he would produce stuff that was brilliant and stuff that was awful, and not seem to notice the difference.  I sometimes think that Kirby had a touch of that as well.  

At the risk of angering Kirby fans, this has always been my perspective: Kirby would shoot out 100 ideas a day (which makes him a genius), but was incapable of telling a good one from a bad one. That's why he needed Lee, I thought, to put a kink in the firehouse, pick the best ideas out of the remaining output and to salvage terrible ideas with dialogue that either transformed it into something useful of it or ignored it entirely.

During this time, Kirby was also writing and drawing Captain America. He introduced quite a lot of characters there but was not very interested in developing any (not even the protagonists).

Like this Black Panther run, it was very much a plot-oriented run. Interestingly, it also had a form of opponent from the future, Agron from Captain America #204-205.

Once I finish up the Kirby Black Panther, I'll be looking at some Kirby Captain America.

I briefly had Forever People #8 at a very young age. I can't remember if I read it through: I don't remember reading the back-ups. I didn't have the foggiest idea what was going on and found the opening violent.

My theory is when New Gods and Forever People were cancelled Kirby switched to telling stories with simple characterisation that relied on action and splashy images in a bid to appeal to younger readers. But his work retained the elements that kept my young self from enjoying that issue of Forever People: strange characters, distance from what's familiar to kids, stylised art, violence. So he didn't get the young readers, and the stories' lack of characterisation, soap-opera and sophisticated plotting, and the increased reliance of his art on schtick, chased away the older ones.

Some of his work from his return to Marvel strikes a balance more like his Silver Age work. The Eternals and Machine Man were better than some of his late 60s issues. But The Eternals was high-concept and perhaps too strange for young readers. Maybe Machine Man needed humour, and a more interesting pal for MM than Spalding. (I briefly had #5; it's an issue where the hero decides he doesn't want to be the hero any longer, and I think I didn't get it.) Devil Dinosaur was written younger, and perhaps didn't have enough to offer older readers. (I didn't read that one young.)

 

The other thing is this. Superhero comics are inherently campy and silly. In the 60s Marvel developed an approach that played this down, so older readers could continue to enjoy them. ("This isn't kids' stuff about a guy who can cling to walls! It's a serious exploration of young adult life and real-world problems.") In the 70s the campy element in Kirby's work came to the fore. Adults our age forgive the campiness for the imagination and wildness, or even enjoy it: but teens want to take their superhero comics seriously.

Considering they had all of Kirby's Superman faces redrawn, it's not surprising he would turn that series down. Even if he had accepted it he probably would have quit when he saw that happening. 
 
Luke Blanchard said:

Comichron doesn't have a reported average sales figure for Jimmy Olsen from 1969, but it was still a top-selling title in 1968. There's the complication that we don't know how well it was selling in percentage terms, and I can believe its sales had headed down as I find the late Weisinger Jimmy stories less likeable than the earlier stuff.

I would think Carmine Infantino wanted to put Kirby on a top title, and that was the closest he could get to it. Kirby said in an interview Infantino wanted him to take over "Superman" and he turned it down. His story was he asked what their worst-selling title was and was told Jimmy Olsen, and said to give him Jimmy Olsen. It can't have been DC's worst-selling title, but it may have been the worst-selling Super-book. (In 1968 it had average sales higher than Action Comics and Adventure Comics, but they were both monthlies. Supergirl's feature was moved into Adventure Comics in 1969, but Mike Sekowsky didn't take it over until the month before Kirby's Jimmy Olsen run started.)

Likewise when Kirby returned to Marvel he was put on one of the established features, Captain America. His run on Black Panther didn't start until a year later. It's a long time since I read the issues I used to have: I read most of them in my later teens, and didn't like them enough to keep them. It now seems to me he did a much better job on Black Panther than he did on Captain America. I like the new characters he introduced and concepts, and my recollection is the issues don't tip over into sheer incompetence the way the Captain America ones sometimes do (as with the character Texas Jack in the Night People story).

They were all his children. You love all of your children equally, even the ones that embarrass you at parties.

Captain Comics said:



The Baron said:

 I once heard Mark Twain described as having a tin ear for prose - that is, he would produce stuff that was brilliant and stuff that was awful, and not seem to notice the difference.  I sometimes think that Kirby had a touch of that as well.  

At the risk of angering Kirby fans, this has always been my perspective: Kirby would shoot out 100 ideas a day (which makes him a genius), but was incapable of telling a good one from a bad one. That's why he needed Lee, I thought, to put a kink in the firehouse, pick the best ideas out of the remaining output and to salvage terrible ideas with dialogue that either transformed it into something useful of it or ignored it entirely.

Black Panther #4 (July 1977) "Friend or Foes"

Our heroes escape the tomb, only to fall in with the Collectors, a typical collection of Kirby grotesques.  Not a lot of subtlety, here. Count Zorba is a stereotypical European aristocrat, Colonel Pigman is a typical British aristocrat, and Silas Mourner (Yuk-yuk-yuk-yuk-yuk!) is an old guy who is drawn to look like a Muppet. "Weird, wild stuff."

Black Panther #5 (September 1977) "Quest for the Sacred Water-Skin!"

The Collectors threaten to nuke Wakanda if the Panther doesn't find the the water of eternal youth for them.  Under duress, he and Mr. Little go in search of it.  They're attacked by a yeti at the behest of a samurai, because why not?

More random weirdness from Kirby, entertaining enough as long as you don't try to make sense out of any of it.

On Kirby’s “tin ear”: Kirby’s dialogue is often criticized by those who point out, correctly, that “Real people don’t talk like that.” I don’t know who said it first (it wasn’t me), but someone once countered, in reference to William Shakespeare, that “Real People don’t talk like that, either.” I once read a three-issue Captain Victory reprint series re-dialogued by Kirby’s grandson. Boring! Kirby’s concepts are a bit “out there”; it’s only fitting that his dialogue should be a bit “out there,” too.

Having said that, I have a hard time getting past that “push-ups” scene in issue #2.

I like to think of Kirby's dialog as a kind of "word jazz" that makes perfect sense in the context of his stories--like they say, "Don't ask, just buy it!"

Jeff of Earth-J said:

On Kirby’s “tin ear”: Kirby’s dialogue is often criticized by those who point out, correctly, that “Real people don’t talk like that.” I don’t know who said it first (it wasn’t me), but someone once countered, in reference to William Shakespeare, that “Real People don’t talk like that, either.” I once read a three-issue Captain Victory reprint series re-dialogued by Kirby’s grandson. Boring! Kirby’s concepts are a bit “out there”; it’s only fitting that his dialogue should be a bit “out there,” too.

Having said that, I have a hard time getting past that “push-ups” scene in issue #2.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

.... “Real People don’t talk like that, either.”

I find that many of the TV shows helmed by Shonda Rhimes and Aaron Sorkin have long perfect speeches that are wonderful to hear but aren't likely to come out of the mouths of real people, at least not as perfectly.

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