From Captain America to Fighting American to Black Magic and more, the knock out team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby have blazed a trail of innovation and genius throughout the realm of the comic book medium. Many of these stories have been unavailable to most, only printed in hard to find and out of print editions, until now.
It was a very long time coming – it was originally scheduled to be published in early 2012 – but The Simon and Kirby Library: Science Fiction [Titan Books; $49.95] was worth the wait. The beautifully-made 362-page hardcover collects over 300 pages of comics rarities, including a handful of 1960s stories drawn by Reed Crandall, Al Williamson, Angelo Torres, Roy G, Krenkel and Wally Wood. The book is a tribute to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s love of science fiction with clever surprises and staggering concepts on page after page.
From the 1940s, we get Solar Patrol, Solar Legion and the amazing Blue Bolt. The first two are basically cops in space, the third is a wild mash-up of Flash Gordon and super-heroes that leaps off the page with its frantic action.
The 1950s offer mostly done-in-one stories. Some are delightful, some exhibit the grimness of that decade. Well-read comics buffs will get a kick out of seeing Kirby play with ideas that he would revisit in the 1960s to great effect, ideas like Kamandi and Metron of the New Gods.
In the 1960s, Kirby almost – almost – takes a back seat to fellow science fiction aficionados like Williamson and Wood. Their tales were bought and edited by Simon during his days packaging material for Harvey Comics. There’s even a very early story written by the legendary Archie Goodwin.
Finally, if all that weren’t enough, the book concludes with a pair of treatments for unrealized series by Simon, Kirby and the always exceptional Jerry Grandenetti. The book is a sheer delight, well worth its cost. I recommend it.