Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Let Slip The Dogeared Pages Of War!


After last month's focus on love it's only fitting I suppose that this month the focus is on war. In some ways it can argued that most of stories that Jack Kirby is famous are war stories of some kind. (Certainly Captain America, New Gods and Thor fall into that broad category.) Not surprisingly as one of the multitude of brave American men and women who served during World War II, Jacob Kurtzburg was changed by that monumental event in fundamental ways which informed the rest of his life. Though a master of presenting action on the comic book page, Kirby never seemed to want to necessarily glorify violence. It had consequences for those who were part of it and even those who perpetrated it. Kirby saw violence in the streets of New York as a young boy and he got all anyone could ever want overseas in the European war front. He doesn't come across as a man who was haunted by the war thankfully, but he was transformed and never seemed ever to forget the cost of battle and the reasons that sometimes wars have to be fought.


I want to take a gander at some of Jack Kirby's war comics, surprisingly few actually given his particular experience. He along with his partner Joe Simon created for DC Comics many new series but perhaps the most successful was Boy Commandos. Later he gave us more realistic down-to-earth war adventures in titles like Foxhole from Mainline, Warfront for Harvey, and Battle for Atlas. Expect to see many select covers from those series and others in the regular "Favorite Covers" feature all this month.


Up front and in focus though will be a review of Kirby's famous war book for Marvel's early days Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos. Kirby  and his partner Stan Lee produced the first half dozen or so issues of that run before handing the artistic reins off to veteran inker Dick Ayers. According to some Fury is what Kirby aspired to be seen as, his ideal of a tough guy who people respected and responded to. Look for these adventures on weekends throughout the month.


And then there's The Losers. At the end of his tenure at DC in the 70's Kirby handled one of DC's many war titles - Our Fighting Forces which at the time was featuring the adventures of a ragtag team of warriors from different branches of the U.S. military - Johnny Cloud, Captain Storm, and the somewhat dynamic duo of Sarge and Gunner. Kirby claimed he didn't much care for the premise of this series, but it didn't stop him from creating some surprisingly memorable stories with this bunch of losers, This month the Dojo takes a leisurely look at arguably Kirby's most overlooked series.


"Make War No More" was the slogan on many DC Comics of the era. But make more war comics certainly especially when that maker is Jack "King" Kirby would have been the motto for any comics fan.

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2 comments:

  1. Looking forward to it, Rip!!

    As always, WWJKD?

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    1. It's been fun reading these stories. They were better than I expected. The Losers seemed to be a series he didn't want to do but he did a great job. And I found a new respect for his Fury work, some of the best art of that era in my estimation. As good as Dick Ayers was on this series I found I wanted more Kirby, Kirby at his best.

      WWJKD my man indeed.

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