So, I’ve been spending some time lately with the newest issue of Roy Thomas’Alter Ego (featuring entries on Werner Roth, Don Heck, and Paul Reinman by Nicholas Caputo) and the second volume of Essential Daredevil, and I’ve come to the conclusion that this Jack Kirby stuff has just got to stop! Wait a sec now–I don’t wanna fight! Hear me out!
If you’ve read this blog at all then you know that I consider the whole Marvel superhero line (and every editorial/fan transaction published therein) from 1961 to the late eighties to be one giant masterwork, and, obviously, the Fantastic Four is the first chapter of the metanovel. I think Jack Kirby is great. I agree with everyone from ADD to Seth that the King’s neo-vorticist style is fascinating to look at. However, were I to name my favourite “Marvel moments” of the 60’s and early 70’s, I’d have to get through a lot of stuff drawn by Ditko (ASM #1-38, Strange Tales #110-146); Gene Colan (DD, Doctor Strange, Captain America, Iron Man, Sub-mariner); Frank Brunner (Dr. Strange with Englehart); Don Heck (Iron Man, Avengers), John Romita (ASM), Gil Kane (ditto), Ross Andru (again), Steranko (SHIELD); the Buscemas (Avengers with Roy Thomas); and Werner Roth (X-Men, also with the Rascally One) before I made it to mid-sixties FF and Thor, and we’d be near the bottom of the list before his Captain America made it onto the radar. Of these artists, I would say that only Steranko was influenced by Kirby! Yes, the rest of them worked under almost continuous pressure from Stan Lee to conform to the “house style”, but don’t you agree that it’s a good thing that they mainly resisted this pressure? Have there ever been two superhero artists more different from Kirby than Ditko and Colan?
The King’s world is at right-angles to the stars; Ditko’s art–even when it goes psychedelic (or didactic!)–is fleshier and more humanistic than most humans can bear to look at; and Colan’s figures are passionate waxworks that melt instead of move. As for Don Heck and Werner Roth, well, I just think those guys were better at telling the kind of story that I like… I’m not interested in BIG epics, I like little ones… I want the emotions turned up to the max, I just don’t think the stakes need to be any higher than who is going to wind up dating whom. Otherwise it’s distracting. Because the real question, for me, is: how badly is the villain’s arrival going to screw up the romance? Not: can the world survive? Guess that’s why I love the Thomas/Roth X-Men so much!
I understand the appeal of “The Coming of Galactus”, and I like it fine, but it sure ain’t my synecdochic Marvel story.
What say you Merry Marchers? Am I off my nut?
Good night friends!