Ulik, MODOK and the future Adam Warlock were all part of another great year for the King.

In celebration of Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday, we’re reviewing the man’s legendary creations with a year-by-year examination of his unparalleled career at Marvel Comics. Read on and witness the work that made him comic book royalty.

By 1967, Marvel editor Stan Lee knew exactly where to use his top artist, Jack Kirby. Together, “The Man” and “The King” whittled Jack’s output down to two main titles that year, with two main side-projects just to make things interesting. One might say it became a true “Summer of Love” between the Marvel creators and their fans at that time.

Stan and Jack continued to infuse FANTASTIC FOUR with way-out wonders and swingin’ splendors in ’67. They kicked off the year with a multi-issue tussle between the FF and Doctor Doom, and then wasted no time tossing them into a battle with the Negative Zone’s Blastaar in FANTASTIC FOUR #62, and the alien Kree Accuser named Ronin—another stand-out Kirby design—in FANTASTIC FOUR #65.

Though the fans might’ve been unaware of the history-making events occurring in FANTASTIC FOUR #67, Stan and Jack introduced another great concept in that issue’s “Him.” Jack’s visuals on the golden-skinned godling seemed a bit subdued and minimalistic, perhaps, but the character continued on to transform into Adam Warlock a few years later, one of Marvel’s most enigmatic yet engaging stars.

In the pages of THOR, Jack’s other blockbuster assignment, the Thunder God met his physical equal in Ulik the Troll in THOR #137, Kang and his Growing Man in THOR #140, and the Kirby tour-de-force of the Super-Skrull in THOR #142. Thor himself suffered under an almost-complete loss of his Asgardian powers in THOR #145, allowing Jack the opportunity to portray the majesty and grandeur of the character in an Earth-bound, civilian-dressed form.

After a break from Captain America’s adventures in TALES OF SUSPENSE, Jack returned to the strip along with Stan in TALES OF SUSPENSE #92 to kick off a storyline that illustrated the great depth of feeling from Cap for Agent-13, one of Nick Fury’s valued S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. After that, Cap met MODOK, surely the most unique Jack Kirby-designed character of the entire year, in TALES OF SUSPENSE #94, and temporarily retired to try and live a “normal life” in TALES OF SUSPENSE #95.

Apart form all the danger and drama delineated by Jack in 1967, he also poked some fun at himself and the rest of the Marvel pantheon through Stan’s latest brainchild, NOT BRAND ECHH, a comedy-parody mag. Utilizing Jack sparingly, but effectively, Stan included his star artist on the introduction of the Silver Burper in NOT BRAND ECHH #1, Sore, Son of Shmodin in NOT BRAND ECHH #3, and the ever-lovin’ origin of none other than Forbush-Man in NOT BRAND ECHH #5. What a way to go-go!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more on Jack Kirby and join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

Read More

A trio of takes on the Sentinel of Liberty from his co-creator!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us this month to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.

During Jack Kirby’s decades-long career he certainly created a number of memorable characters, but none can match Captain America when it comes to longevity. Along with his partner Joe Simon and the talented artists who worked for them, Kirby delivered CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1 to Timely Comics in 1941 and continued working on the series through issue #10. During that time, Kirby not only drew Steve Rogers’ origin as the Army reject who wound up becoming the symbol of all things American when given the Super Soldier Serum, he additionally introduced the likes of Bucky and The Red Skull.

As later established in AVENGERS #4, Bucky died thanks to a plot by Baron Zemo that also left Cap floating through the ocean in a block of ice. He remained there until 1965 when Kirby teamed up with Stan Lee—who also contributed to CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS—to reintroduce the Sentinel of Liberty to a new generation of readers! The thawed out Super Soldier quickly became a stalwart member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

After bringing Steve Rogers back, Lee and Kirby decided to tell even more Cap stories, this time in the pages of TALES OF SUSPENSE, starting with #58. While some of these adventures took place in the present, others drew on some of that raw material from the first run of Cap comics and retold them for a new audience, complete with new art that showed off how Kirby’s work had evolved in that time.

TALES OF SUSPENSE gave way to CAPTAIN AMERICA #100 in 1968. Between the two books, Kirby helped introduce characters like Batroc, Doctor Faustus, Sharon Carter, The Falcon, Peggy Carter, M.O.D.O.K., and more. Kirby drew the series through issue #109, and then returned for #112, which he reportedly drew in 24 hours.

In the mid-70s, “The King” returned to the castle he helped build and did one more stint with his bravest of knights: Captain America. Kirby took over as writer-artist-editor of the title with 1976’s #193. Without missing a beat, he launched the Avenger and his partner Falcon directly into classic adventures like “Madbomb,” which dealt with the dangers of weaponized hate.

During this time, Kirby created one of Erik Larsen’s favorite moments during “The Swine,” not to mention the still-relevant Arnim Zola. Ultimately, the King’s reign on CAPTAIN AMERICA would come to a close with 1977’s issue #214, leaving behind not one or two, but three legendary runs on the character!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

Read More

Two of the Fantastic Four tie the knot, Hulk fights Thor, plus more!

In celebration of Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday, we’re reviewing the man’s legendary creations with a year-by-year examination of his unparalleled career at Marvel Comics. Read on and witness the work that made him comic book royalty.

Even a casual Marvel reader in 1965 might’ve believed that Jack Kirby worked on every single issue of every single title the House of Ideas published that year. The truth of it stands as something less than that, but Marvel editor and writer Stan Lee knew a good thing and ensured Jack’s presence across the line in varied ways, and with a concentration where the Kirby touch would bring comic book gold.

First and foremost, Lee and Kirby’s flagship book remained Jack’s true focus at the midpoint of the 1960s. In FANTASTIC FOUR #32, after a battle with the strange android Dragon Man, Reed Richards received the answer he’d hoped for from his marriage proposal to Sue Storm, setting up one of the true monumental moments in comic history: the wedding of Mr. Fantastic and The Invisible Girl in FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #3 that summer.

Not to rest on their laurels, Stan and Jack also introduced the Frightful Four in FANTASTIC FOUR #36, brought Daredevil in for a guest-spot in FANTASTIC FOUR #39, and following Gorgon’s introduction in FANTASTIC FOUR #44, unveiled their next big idea, the incredible Inhumans, in FANTASTIC FOUR #45 to round out the year.

Over in Thor’s universe, Jack illustrated one of the greatest clashes of comics, the Thor-Hulk match fans clamored for, in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #112, as well as designing a villain for the ages, Absorbing Man, for JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #114. In addition, Jack’s images of the robotic Destroyer impressed fans in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #118, but perhaps the real stand-out moment of the year in Thor’s world came in the introduction of Greek demi-god Hercules into the ongoing drama in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY ANNUAL #1.

Jack’s penciling duties for 1965 also extended into Captain America’s solo series in TALES OF SUSPENSE. For the first part of the year he produced covers and simple layouts for others to follow, but for his and Stan’s powerful team-up between Cap and Nick Fury in TALES OF SUSPENSE #78, he provided full interior art. From there, the duo planted dynamite under Cap’s world with the return of The Red Skull in TALES OF SUSPENSE #79, and the amazing Cosmic Cube saga beginning in TALES OF SUSPENSE #80.

Speaking of Nick Fury, Jack’s visions of technological wonders expanded exponentially when he and Stan promoted the sergeant into their newest concept, S.H.I.E.L.D., in the landmark STRANGE TALES #135. For the next several issues of the mag, Jack would do layouts and covers, helping guide his former World War II star into the Swingin’ Sixties.

Jack relinquished penciling chores on AVENGERS in 1965, but also helped out with layouts and covers, same as with SGT. FURY and TALES TO ASTONISH. Over in UNCANNY X-MEN he worked to illustrate the memorable meeting of the young mutants and the Avengers to fruition in X-MEN #9, and introduce the savage Ka-Zar in X-MEN #10.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

Read More

Tony Stark builds his very first armor as the legend begins!

Dive into one of Iron Man’s most iconic adventures on Marvel Unlimited every day with Stark Week!

Tony Stark looks pretty good for a guy who’s been kicking around since his first appearance in 1963’s TALES OF SUSPENSE #39. That classic issue by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Don Heck introduces the world to the wealthy playboy weaponsmith who eventually proves himself as one of the greatest heroes in the galaxy!

Developing transistors to help the American government fight the Vietnam War, Stark thinks he’s helping out boys, but winds up in trouble himself after heading over to see his inventions in action. Little does Stark know that his trip to South Vietnam will lead him into a booby-trapped explosion that nearly kills him and the clutches of the evil General Wong-Chu.

Held by Wong-Chu and suffering from shrapnel all around his heart, Stark agrees to build a weapon for the villain. Realizing he’s nearing the end of his days, Tony instead plans to develop something to take his captors out. Soon joined by the dissident Professor Yinsen, a genius in the field of physics, the two scientists join forces and use transistor technology to create the armor that keeps the shrapnel from moving any closer to Tony’s heart.

Tales of Suspense (1959) #39

Tales of Suspense (1959) #39

  • Published: March 10, 1963
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: February 28, 2008
  • Penciller: Steve Ditko
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

To buy Stark time as the suit charges up, the professor fakes an escape attempt that leads to his death. Thanks to the sacrifice, the newly minted Iron Man uses a few spare moments to take the suit for a brief test spin before facing off against Wong-Chu and his soldiers.

In addition to his augmented strength, Iron Man also utilizes magnets, air pressure jets, suction cups, electrical interference, a mini buzz saw, and ultimately a flame gun to take out the enemy. He then frees his fellow prisoners and walks off into the jungle wondering, “As for Iron Man, that metallic hulk who once was Anthony Stark…who knows what destiny awaits him? Time alone will provide the answer! Time alone…”

Hacking the System

After reading the first appearance, it seems like the writers toyed with making it so that Tony Stark could not remove any parts of his gray armor and would be stuck in there for the foreseeable future. By the next issue of TALES OF SUSPENSE, though, we see that’s not the case as our hero returns to the States, heads out with just the chest plate on and even updates the suit with a nice gold paint job thanks to a suggestion by his lady friend Marion.

Tomorrow, follow Tony as he heads down his darkest path in the classic “Demon in A Bottle” story by David Michelinie, John Romita, Jr., Bob Layton, and Carmine Infantino.

Read More

Learn about the beginnings of Cap's archenemy!

Every day we celebrate Captain America’s 75th anniversary by looking deep into the Marvel Unlimited archives and going through some of Steve Rogers’ most thrilling adventures. Happy diamond anniversary Sentinel of Liberty!

Earlier this week, RED SKULL: INCARNATE took center stage as it chronicled the early days of Johann Schmidt, the man who would become Captain America’s greatest foe. Today, take a look at Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s initial take on Schmidt’s ascension to Nazi royalty as originally seen in TALES OF SUSPENSE #66-68 from 1965.

The World War II-set story kicks off with Cap tied to a chair in the clutches of the Red Skull. Instead of simply finishing off his longtime foe, the villain takes the time to fill the Star-Spangled Superstar in on his personal history.

“Lots of people had tough lives,” Cap says. “My early years were no bed of roses either! But I don’t waste time telling sob stories!” Skull responds by knocking the hero and his chair down before continuing to explain how he first met Adolf Hitler as a hotel bellboy. During that invitation, Hitler saw the young man’s hate-filled eyes and immediately commands him to become a “perfect Nazi” under the tutelage of his soldiers.

Tales of Suspense (1959) #66

Tales of Suspense (1959) #66

  • Published: June 10, 1965
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Unimpressed with the outside training, Hitler decides to take over himself and turn Schmidt into a symbol complete with swastika-emblazoned jumpsuit, crimson mask and chill-inducing new name. Soon enough, it becomes clear that Skull recounting this information fits into a plan that allows a chemical brainwashing agent to take over Captain America’s mind!

The next two issues feature Skull presenting the mind-controlled Cap to Hitler, Bucky escaping from his own imprisonment, and an assassination attempt on a high-ranking Allied general at the hands of Captain America! The hero then reveals that he played along with the plan before heading off to stop yet another attack by the Red Skull’s minions.

Many of these TALES OF SUSPENSE issues did a great job of filling in Captain America’s WWII adventures, which many of the then-young readers missed the first time around. Seeing Kirby’s evolution since those early days combined with the whimsical and grandiose nature of Lee’s stories makes for a great history lesson.

Cap Declassified

For years, the true face of the Red Skull remained a mystery to the readers. You’ll notice during the Kirby-drawn flashbacks in these issues that you never actually see Johann Schmidt unmasked. We’re always looking at him from behind or obscured in some other way. The very first time anyone saw the face under the mask came decades later in CAPTAIN AMERICA #297 from 1985 when the aged man lifts his covering to reveal the withered visage underneath. He died not long after that, but soon returned in a body cloned from Steve Rogers!

Next time find out what Roy Thomas, Don Glut and George Tuska think would happen if Cap stayed unfrozen in WHAT IF? #5.

Read More

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby bring back one of the most dastardly villains in the Marvel Universe!

Every day Marvel.com celebrates Captain America’s 75th anniversary by looking deep into the Marvel Unlimited archives to showcase some of his most thrilling and important adventures.

Captain America burst back onto the Silver Age scene with AVENGERS #4 and continued to appear in that book, but he also took up residence in TALES OF SUSPENSE alongside Iron Man starting with issue #58. While those stories eventually found inspiration from the old days of World War II, the book originally took place in modern times, including the return of the Red Skull as seen in #79 through #81!

Written by Stan Lee with artwork by Jack Kirby, these three issues explain that the nefarious Nazi survived thanks to a gas that left him and two of his stooges in suspended animation until they were discovered by A.I.M., an evil organization of scientists first appearing in STRANGE TALES #146.

Before realizing the Red Skull still walks the earth, Captain America thinks he’s losing his mind because the Skull secretly utilized Hypno Helmets on his agents so only Steve Rogers can see his attackers while everyone else around them remains oblivious.

Tales of Suspense (1959) #80

Tales of Suspense (1959) #80

  • Published: August 10, 1966
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 28, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Once he realizes who’s really behind the attacks, Captain America goes after the Skull, even though he has the reality-altering Cosmic Cube in his hands. Dedicated to stopping evil, Cap shows why he inspired thousands of soldiers during the war as he fights a battle no one’s sure he can win.

“It’s inconceivable! He’s become the ultimate enemy – the ultimate force of evil,” Rogers thinks while fighting the Skull, especially after the villain explains that he wants to take over the entire world and make all humans battle for his entertainment.

To show his power, the Red Skull dons golden armor to face Cap himself, but ultimately fails when the hero knocks the Cube into the water with a thrust of his mighty shield. The action seemingly kills the bad guy while leaving the powerful device at the bottom of the sea until another day.

Cap Declassified   

Not only does TALES OF SUSPENSE #79 explain how Red Skull survived to modern days, but also introduces the Marvel Universe to the Cosmic Cube, an all-powerful item that seems to follow Cap throughout the years. The Skull fashioned a number of these devices over time, most of which were destroyed by the star-spangled hero. However, one was cobbled together in the pages of Ed Brubaker’s “Winter Soldier” saga that eventually had incredible ramifications for the Star-Spangled Avenger.

Return next time to find out how Captain America reacted when his old pal Bucky Barnes returned as the Winter Soldier in Ed Brubaker’s first year of CAPTAIN AMERICA. 

Read More

The Avengers' butler first appeared back in 1964!

Throughout Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ many lineup changes and mighty shakeups, only one thing has remained constant over the past five decades of Avengers stories: Edwin Jarvis.

The butler has seen the inhabitants of Avengers Mansion come and go over the years, and he’s served coffee to Inhumans, Eternals, mutants, and more. Because of his stalwart presence, Jarvis has come to be known as the real heart of the team.

One never would have guessed that after reading his first handful of comic book appearances…

Tales of Suspense (1959) #59

Tales of Suspense (1959) #59

  • Published: November 10, 1964
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Jarvis first appeared in TALES OF SUSPENSE #59 in a story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The butler debuted with a serving tray in his hands, a sight that readers would quickly grow accustomed to.

Art from Tales of Suspense #59

Art from Tales of Suspense #59

Jarvis appeared again six months later in AVENGERS #16, where he served beverages to two of the team’s newest recruits—Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. He also decided to sport a toupee for the occasion.

Art from Avengers #16

Art from Avengers #16

Two months later in AVENGERS #18, Jarvis re-appeared in a familiar role.

Art from Avengers #18

Art from Avengers #18

As the era-displaced Captain America did not have a civilian life to tend to, he spent much of his time alone, moping in Avengers Mansion and looking through old photo albums. Jarvis kept an eye on Cap during those long nights.

TALES OF SUSPENSE #82, from late 1966, began just like most of Jarvis’ previous appearances had—with a lonely Captain America reminiscing and Jarvis serving him coffee.

Art from Tales of Suspense #82

Art from Tales of Suspense #82

The issue took a turn for the surreal when Captain America started hallucinating events from his past, culminating in him fainting in the hallway.

Art from Tales of Suspense #82

Art from Tales of Suspense #82

Jarvis took the Captain back to his room, only to reveal that the hallucinations had been his doing all along!

Art from Tales of Suspense #82

Art from Tales of Suspense #82

Surprise! Two Jarvises! The shape-shifting Super-Adaptoid, an artificial life form created by A.I.M., had taken the butler’s place earlier and slipped a hypno-sedative into Steve Rogers’ coffee. With Cap out cold, the Adaptoid quickly transformed from Jarvis to the star-spangled Avenger. The villain’s plan to replace the hero permanently fell apart in the following issue, but the bad guy did succeed in being the first of many evildoers to knock Jarvis out cold.

You can learn more about Jarvis’ secret history in AVENGERS #280!

Read More

Good old Clint Barton got off to a bad start way back in 1964!

Fans nowadays primarily know Hawkeye as a wisecracking Avenger and marksman extraordinaire, one with luck so bad that he sometimes makes Spider-Man’s troubled life look charmed. Through all of his trials and tribulations, ol’ Clint Barton always comes out on the other end with a smirk on his face and a quiver full of quips. Considering how heroic Hawkeye seems nowadays, readers might be surprised to learn that he started out his career by getting on Iron Man’s bad side.

Tales of Suspense (1959) #57

Tales of Suspense (1959) #57

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Hawkeye first appeared 50 years ago this month in TALES OF SUSPENSE #57 by Stan Lee and Don Heck. After accidentally asking his secretary Pepper Potts out on a date, Tony Stark tried to wreck the mood by taking the lady to the least romantic place he could think of: Coney Island. There they came across an archer in a Davy Crockett get up.

Art from Tales of Suspense #57

Art from Tales of Suspense #57

Even though Clint Barton hit all of his targets, he failed to impress the crowd. Barton’s ego became even more bruised when everyone’s attention turned away from him to a malfunctioning carnival ride. Iron Man showed up to save the day, thus giving Clint an idea. If he wanted Iron Man-level attention, he’d have to get himself an Iron Man-esque dual identity.

Art from Tales of Suspense #57

Art from Tales of Suspense #57

Armed with his trusty bow and a quiver filled with tricked out arrows, Barton transformed into Hawkeye – New York City’s newest crime fighter! At least, that’s what Hawkeye intended. He took out a jewel thief during his first patrol, but a couple of policemen mistakenly pegged him as accomplice. Angry and on the run from the cops, Hawkeye met the devious Black Widow.

Art from Tales of Suspense #57

Art from Tales of Suspense #57

Hawkeye fell hard and fast for the Russian super spy, hopping into her car and racing off to her hideout. Black Widow then hired Hawkeye to defeat the man that caused her most humiliating defeat – Iron Man. Hoping to impress the new object of his affection, Hawkeye busted into Stark’s weapons factory on a mission to defeat the millionaire’s ironclad “bodyguard.”

Art from Tales of Suspense #57

Art from Tales of Suspense #57

Barton got the drop on Iron Man, pegging him with a few rust-inducing arrows. The masked archer grabbed a few discarded bits of Iron Man’s armor and hightailed it back to his ride. Stark re-suited up in some rust-free Iron Man armor and followed the criminal to the docks. Their battle continued, with Hawkeye deploying even more trick arrows.

Art from Tales of Suspense #57

Art from Tales of Suspense #57

Iron Man immediately snapped free of the nylon rope and seemingly knocked Hawkeye out. But, just as soon as Iron Man turned his back, Hawkeye rolled over and revealed he still had one more arrow to unleash.

Art from Tales of Suspense #57

Art from Tales of Suspense #57

The demolition arrow ricocheted off of Iron Man and struck the Black Widow, who had arrived at the docks to check in on her new henchman. With his beloved Widow’s life at risk, Hawkeye scooped his boss up in his arms and fled the scene. Iron Man had no way of knowing that two of his most annoying adversaries would eventually become Avengers mainstays. Odds are this awkward first encounter rarely comes up while all the involved parties are hanging out at Avengers Mansion.

For more of the Avenging Archer, check out HAWKEYE on Marvel Unlimited! 

Read More

Before she teamed up with Iron Man in the Avengers, Natasha Romanoff got her start as one of his foremost villains!

When it comes to Natasha Romanoff, readers of BLACK WIDOW by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto know that atonement’s the name of her game. Before she joined up with the Avengers, the Black Widow earned a reputation as the most formidable assassin around, with her unique skillset making her incredibly valuable to the KGB during the height of the Cold War. She’s saved a lot of lives since then while standing alongside heroic icons like Captain America, but one has to wonder if she’ll ever rid her conscience of the ghosts that haunt it. 

Tales of Suspense (1959) #52

Tales of Suspense (1959) #52

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Black Widow made her debut 50 years ago this month in TALES OF SUSPENSE #52. Marvel readers met the Russian super spy during what would become her final days as a KGB agent. Without her trademark Widow’s Bite bracelets and iconic black costume, the Natasha that appeared on the printed page in 1964 bears little resemblance to the Black Widow we know today. The one thing they have in common? A killer reputation.

Art from Tales of Suspense #52

Art from Tales of Suspense #52

Yes, Boris. Boris and Natasha. And no, “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” does not exist within Marvel canon.

Black Widow ingratiated herself to Tony Stark by appealing to his playboy nature, providing a necessary distraction for Boris to find and capture a Russian scientist that had defected to America.

Art from Tales of Suspense #52

Art from Tales of Suspense #52

Things escalated quickly, forcing Boris to occupy a vacant Crimson Dynamo suit in a losing battle against Iron Man. Ever the trickster, Black Widow faked being a damsel in distress in order to save an actual Dynamo in distress.

Art from Tales of Suspense #52

Art from Tales of Suspense #52

Both Boris and the defected scientist lost their lives in the battle, leaving Agent Romanoff to escape and fend for herself. Black Widow realized what her villainous employers would do to her after such a failure, and for the first time began to reconsider whom she swore allegiance to.

Art from Tales of Suspense #52

Art from Tales of Suspense #52

Black Widow would soon leave her antagonistic ways behind and join the Avengers, where she’s pretty much remained ever since. Happy birthday, Black Widow!

For more of Natasha Romanoff, check out BLACK WIDOW!

Read More