Comics

The History of Kirby: 1968

Cap gets his own title, while the FF battle a bevy of heroes and much more!

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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.

Superstar artist Jack Kirby continued to focus on only a few books in 1968, but one character of his in particular received even more attention from “The King” that year. In all, 1968 would prove to be another standout time for Kirby designs.

Over in FANTASTIC FOUR #70, Jack played around with the look of Sue Richards’ costume, adding a kind of skirt motif to it. It didn’t last long overall, but one Kirby creation that seemed poised to launch even higher into the stratosphere of popularity called himself the Silver Surfer, and he returned in FANTASTIC FOUR #72.

Jack also got to draw some of the other Marvel stars in guest-shot appearances in FANTASTIC FOUR #73, aided writer-editor Stan Lee in Galactus’ latest mischief-making in FANTASTIC FOUR #74 and #75, and played around again with the Thing’s wish to change back to plain ol’ Ben Grimm permanently in FANTASTIC FOUR #78.

Perhaps the biggest news that year for FF fans arrived in Lee and Kirby’s FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #6 blockbuster. In it, Jack unleashed the spooky Annihilus, a weird insect-like tyrant who ruled over the Negative Zone and stood in the team’s way of securing a cure for Sue’s condition. What condition might that’ve been? None other than dangerous amounts of radiation in her body endangering the birth of her first child, Franklin Richards. Stan and Jack saw her through, though, and the old Kirby artistic touch seemed right at home at delineating babies.

To increase the tall tales inn the fabled halls of Asgard, Jack added the powerful, cosmic crowbar-wielding Wrecker to THOR #148, and designed a cool new monster, Mangog, for the Thunder God to lay the hammer down upon in THOR #154.

Jack’s World War II super hero soldier received his own title in 1968 when Lee converted his 11-page adventures in TALES OF SUSPENSE into a glorious 20-page Kirby extravaganza aptly named CAPTAIN AMERICA. Cap hit the ground running and jumping in CAPTAIN AMERICA #100 and enjoying the company of Stan and Jack’s Black Panther for a clash with the masked Baron Zemo. The Red Skull dropped in for another bout with his arch-nemesis in CAPTAIN AMERICA #101, and Jack whipped up a creepy headshrinker in the form of Doctor Faustus in CAPTAIN AMERICA #107.

The remainder of Jack’s free-time—ha ha—in 1968 rounded out with his usual layout service for other books, and also his incredible control over covers. Two such knock-outs that year must be the Daredevil-Captain America boxing match from DAREDEVIL #43, and the high-flying new cover for TALES OF ASGARD #1, which reprinted Stan and Jack’s back-up feature from THOR.

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