The Most Miraculous Machines of KirbyTech, Inc.
Celebrate Jack Kirby's 101st birthday with a look at his greatest gadget creations!
This week, we're celebrating Jack Kirby's birthday by honoring the memory and legacy of one of the most influential creators in all of comic books and Marvel Comics. To celebrate, we're looking back at King Kirby's countless contributions to Marvel history all week here on Marvel.com.
As the Marvel Universe grew after the publication of FANTASTIC FOUR #1 in 1961, so too did artist Jack Kirby’s unique vision for comic book design. Regular readers of Marvel claimed a ringside seat as Jack’s art traveled down wildly brilliant and experimental avenues, and perhaps no feature of his work serves as a better example of this than his approach to technology.
King Kirby melded metal, glass, and materials hitherto unknown to man along with organic sensibilities to create devices, vehicles, and machinery that added a one-of-a-kind flair to the technical side of super heroics.
Here’s a look at just a few of Jack Kirby’s most wonderful whatchamacallits, delightful doodads, and thrilling thingamajigs!
The Fantasticar: FANTASTIC FOUR #3
When the Fantastic Four became real Super Heroes (with costumes and everything), Jack provided them with their own, special mode of transportation. No mundane automobile would do, so the Fantasticar was born and the “flying bathtub” soon became a standout in the team’s series.
Deceptively simple, the original Fantasticar’s design sported modular functionality before modular functionality was cool, and marked the first of Kirby’s drive to do things differently for Marvel’s First Family.
S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier: STRANGE TALES #135
When war hero Nick Fury answered S.H.I.E.L.D.’s call of duty, little did he realize his “audition” would take place in the spy organization’s massive flying headquarters, the Helicarrier.
Kirby realized the Helicarrier as a cross between a zeppelin, a helicopter, and a humongous flying aircraft carrier—and his stand-out design still exists today as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s not-so-subtle statement in the name of global defense.
The Ultimate Nullifier: FANTASTIC FOUR #50
Jack’s knack for creating powerful devices housed in simple packages found a home in his vision for the one thing that could cow the mighty Galactus: the Ultimate Nullifier.
The Watcher led Johnny Storm to it—a small piece of equipment that you might miss if you blinked. But when it was shoved in the face of the Devourer of Worlds, it caused the big guy to begin to shake in fear.
Galactus’ Space Station: FANTASTIC FOUR #49
Where did Johnny Storm find the Ultimate Nullifier? On Galactus’ “worldship,” later designated "Taa II".
Jack pulled out all stops to give the gigantic space station an otherworldly look. The Human Torch nearly lost his mind when he laid eyes on it, and FANTASTIC FOUR fans wanted to know more about it the moment they first saw it as well. And who could blame them? To this day, the ship maintains an unrivaled, indefinable alien coolness.
The Mini-Cruiser: TALES OF SUSPENSE #93
This one may not be as well-known as other designs from KirbyTech, Inc., but one look at the opening splash page of the story—with its head-on illustration of Captain America’s underwater stealth vehicle—and you know Jack’s imagination was an amazing thing.
Part scuba suit, part ocean-operating sled, the Mini-Cruiser allowed Cap to infiltrate an A.I.M. base far below the sea, and allowed readers to be there right at the hero’s side through it all.
Reed Richards’ Sub-Space Cube: FANTASTIC FOUR #51
When Mr. Fantastic wanted to build a “dimensional entrance” to what he dubbed as Sub-Space, he didn't mess around with doors or gates or anything like that. Instead, Jack Kirby designed a “radical cube” that filled an entire room in the Baxter Building, defied easy explanation, and got the job done!
Machine Man: MACHINE MAN #1
One of the greatest pieces of KirbyTech isn't a device or a vehicle; it's a person, albeit an artificial one.
X-51, known as Machine Man to evildoers, stands as a “living robot” that sports so many great touches of classic Jack design, including telescoping eyes and limbs and just about anything else the metal man needs to fight for justice. There’s a touch of Kirby whimsicality in Machine Man, making him an endearing champion with an inner light and a cool exterior.
Read more of the King's most memorable Marvel works on Marvel Unlimited, and stay tuned through the rest of the week as we celebrate his incredible legacy. You can also learn more about Jack Kirby through the Jack Kirby 100 celebration.
Keep the spirit of Jack Kirby alive by visiting the nonprofit foundation named in his honor: Kirby4Heroes! Visit the Kirby4Heroes website here for more info.
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