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Black Panther #1

Black Panther #1

Jack Kirby hits the ground running in what was billed as the Black Panther’s first solo series, and all these years later it is still a singular accomplishment. Kirby’s Bronze Age work often seemed to stand alone — series like New Gods, Eternals, Captain America, and this Black Panther series feel siloed from the larger comics universes in which the reside, with limited points of contact to whatever events were going on at the time, and guest appearances from iconic heroes that feel oddly out-of-step with their canonical selfs. In the 70s, Kirby set everything in the Kirby-verse, and while I didn’t quite get it as a child, I am much younger now, and it suits me just fine. Here, Black Panther is on a treasure hunt, recovering the fabled King Solomon’s Frog and seeking to return it to its resting place.

Black Panther #1, Jack Kirby

The twist — the Frog is an ancient artifact that summons monsters through time to kill those who tamper with it. Panther is a bit reactive in this issue (which I recall was my criticism of this series as a whole), but the action and monster quotient forgives a lot. Panther’s weird sidekick, Mister Little, gets bumped by the imperious Princess Zanda in this very first issue (though I believe he returns at a later date), and then everything goes sideways when a bulbous-headed alien with “Hatch 22” stamped on his forehead is summoned by the frog! It has basically nothing to do with Black Panther as we’ve seen him before or since, but it is as weird and wonderful as it sounds … it’s the Kirby-verse, remember? Ready for more.

Black Panther #1, Jack Kirby

  • Script & Pencils: Jack Kirby
  • Inks: Mike Royer

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Black Panther #1

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Eternals #7

Eternals #7

Kirby is in full, glorious, cosmic mode as his cast of men, gods, and madmen ramble around an ancient Incan ruin where colossal space sentinels have come to life. We witness the purposes of the Four Hosts of Celestials — the First who explore and experiment, the Second who kick ass, the Third who inspect and cultivate, and now the Fourth … who judge.

And based on behavior the three SHIELD agents who turn up in the Celestial base, I couldn’t blame them if that judgement was unfavorable. These are men of action! Who think with their fists!! Before you know it, atomic hand grenades are going off (I kid you not). My favorite character was a blonde SHIELD agent who said things like — “Jumping catfish!!” “Easy, dad!” and “I’m hip!” Arishem … is not amused. Man, Kirby was just playing a whole different game with this book.

  • Script & Pencils: Jack Kirby
  • Inks: Mike Royer

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Eternals Annual #1

Eternals Annual #1

The (ahem) eternal war between Man and Deviant continues! Zakka The Tool-Master is unleashing horrors out of time on the streets of 1977, so the all-wise Zuras dispatches Karkas, Thena, and The Reject to put things right. Of course, given that Thena relies on a man-monster and a monstrous man to complete her mission, hilarity ensues. Reject rumbles with Jack the Ripper, while Karkas takes on Attila the Hun, wrecking a hotel and in the process panicking the people he was trying to protect. Jack Kirby was always strong at wringing pathos out of his monstrous, misunderstood heroes, and had this series not died in the womb I expect Karkas might have come to be regarded right alongside Ben Grimm in this regard.

With his mortal pawns getting slapped around, Zakka summons the dread Mutate Tutinax, the Mountain Mover (a big momo I don’t think we’ve seen before, or since), and gets his own ass kicked for his temerity. Tutinax runs amok for a few pages, but just when it is getting good — when Tutinax is holding a building over his head, and shouting, “Let this be both your gave and monument! Die!!” — it just kind of … ends. Tutinax pops back to his own era and the adventure is over, like Jack was creating so fast that he didn’t notice he was running out of pages. Thena and the boys walk into the sunset, her spinning a tale about how Karkas and Reject have learned a lesson about true comradeship, but they aren’t having any of it (and neither are we).

  • Script & Pencils: Jack Kirby
  • Inks: Mike Royer

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