Any debate over greatest comic book artist of all time is over before it starts. You can argue over who is number 2, but not who is “King”. Jack Kirby is at the top, and no one else can compare. Jack had a hand in creating the vast majority of the Marvel universe, and some of the best parts of the DC universe. From the X-Men to the Fantastic Four to Captain America and the New Gods, Kirby’s sheer creative genius and influence on superhero comics cannot be overstated.
Beyond the “folks in tights”, though, Jack was still a dynamo. Some of my favorite works of his come from a time that was, for most of the comic industry, a lull. The Comics Code controversy of the mid 1950s killed off EC Comics and their legendary sci-fi and horror books. The Silver Age had taken a few baby steps over at DC, but as the 50s rolled over into the 60s, Marvel wasn’t doing superheroes at all. They weren’t even called Marvel Comics yet; they were known as Atlas Comics.
Jack Kirby worked on several monthly Atlas titles, including science fiction and fantasy books involving giant monsters. Tales to Astonish, Tales of Suspense, Amazing Adventures… these weren’t the high points of Kirby’s career, to be certain. But no one can deny the sheer creativity on display as well as the imaginative gusto with which “King” Kirby cranked out these often goofy but always impressive tales. In celebration of Jack’s birthday (he would have been 99 years old), here’s a selection of my favorite Kirby monsters!