Wednesday, April 27, 2005

THE MIGHTY THOR #179, August 1970

If there's a period of Marvel's history I perversely love, and buy as much of as I can on eBay, it's those last couple of months in 1970 before Kirby jumped ship to DC. Stan Lee seemingly oblivious to the catastrophe. Kirby dropping subliminal hints in his plots/art. For example, he draws the last issue of SILVER SURFER with the protagonist turning his back on the people of Earth, and cursing them, vowing to make them pay for not appreciating him.
Just picked up this last Kirby issue of THOR cheap on eBay. Loki pulls a FACE/OFF on Thor, and his friends turn on him and attack him. Wow. Absolutely no meta-commentary there at all, then. It would be really hard to read that and see a man unhappy with his co-creator, who also lorded it over him as his editor. A man who'd characterise him in his editorials as his closest ally, but then undermine him in negotiations with their new bosses in order to secure his own position .

Kirby, uh, Thor getting stabbed in the back by his friends

Kirby may have phoned the art-job in, or perhaps it was just mangled by a particularly lazy inking by Vince Colletta. I tend to belive the latter, as this issue was delayed a month already (#178 was a fill-in, this issue obviously follows #177 in tone and continuity - as such Kirby would have basically had an extended period to work on this issue's pencils). The guy was known for erasing large sections of detail from Kirby's work, so it's disheartening to see the splash page which is a crowd scene of a jubilant war-party returning to Asgard. It looks like only two men and a dog actually turned out to welcome them back. Even the Neal Adams cover looks rushed. In the months before, Kirby had finally been getting some decend inking on this title, usually by the great Bill Everett. Maybe assigning Vince back onto the title reflected how late Kirby handed (well, mailed) in his pages, or maybe a more petulant act by Stan. Ironically, Jack seemed fairly oblivious about the wildly varying standards of his inkers, and would later seem content with Colletta inking nearly all of his first year of output at DC.

Of course, he did half-heartedly try to poach Joe Sinnott, John Romita and Wally Wood to go with him to form a West Coast division of DC under his editorship: imagine that line up on NEW GODS, MISTER MIRACLE and THE FOREVER PEOPLE. Sweet cow of Moscow!