Comics

The History of Kirby: 1964

Captain America returns, Hulk battles Thing, plus so much more!

Image for The History of Kirby: 1964

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.

As the House of Ideas scored more hits in the first few years of the still-young Marvel Universe, Jack Kirby’s project load began to transform. By 1964 he no longer spent time on romance books and Westerns represented a very small percentage of his output. The words of the day became super heroes, and perhaps the greatest example of that among Jack’s 1964 successes stood with the return of Captain America.

Jack’s 1940s patriotic co-creation with Joe Simon exploded onto the swingin’ 60s scene in a fitting place: AVENGERS #4. Kirby’s big hit, along with writer-editor Stan Lee, represented the biggest and the best heroes around, so Cap fit right in. Once the team pulled him from the ice he’d been stuck in since the end of World War II, the Star-Spangled Sentinel of Liberty set off to the races and it seemed like Jack’d never stopped drawing him in action.

Together with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Captain America faced off against the Masters of Evil in AVENGERS #6, Kang the Conqueror in AVENGERS #8, and the mysteriously powerful Wonder Man in AVENGERS #9. And if readers couldn’t get enough of the returned crusader, Jack and Stan spun him off into his own solo adventures later in the year with TALES OF SUSPENSE #59.

The duo’s other big hit, FANTASTIC FOUR, entered into its third year with a big bang provided by The Thing battling The Hulk in FANTASTIC FOUR #25, and the entire cast of the Avengers joining in the fun in FANTASTIC FOUR #26. Artistically, Benjamin J. Grimm’s visual look continued to evolve and it became evident that the scrappy, sarcastic Thing stood as a stand-in for his artistic co-creator.

Over in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, Jack returned to providing the interior art for Thor’s adventures with JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #101. From that moment on, he and Stan launched a long stretch of stories that took the Thunder God beyond mere earthbound menaces and into the fabled realm of mythology and beyond. JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #103 provided a look at Jack’s designs for the wily Enchantress and her bodyguard The Executioner, and JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #109 shared the story of Thor’s clash with Magneto, sworn enemy of another group of the artist’s super hero creations.

Besides loaning Magneto to Thor’s title, the X-Men continued to enjoy Jack’s artwork in 1964. UNCANNY X-MEN #3 introduced the blustering Blob, and in UNCANNY X-MEN #4 the Master of Magnetism unveiled his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, which just happened to include Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch, who’d soon embark on a path of heroism that would lead to the Avengers’ door.

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.