Tenth in a series of posts, each one analyzing a single panel from a Jack Kirby-drawn comic book.
1. The Secret Origin of Jack Kirby
In a time before time, when Dreams and Reality merged in the Quasi-Meta-Space of the Kosmic Hub, let us witness a gathering of The Kreators!
Thus did The Kreators form the fulcrum of Quasi-Meta-Space! Thus did The Kreators deny the very forces of time and space itself! For most loath were they to see The Tyranny of Reality destroy the wondrous Kosmic Hub.
Yet the Time of Times was fast approaching, and even The Kreators could do little to deny the baleful onslaught of linear temporality! And thus did The Kreators fashion that which was named The Kirby Kradle — a depository of wonders, dreams and impossibilities soon to be lost to the dismal dawning of bleak reality!
This Pop-Platonic edifice of pure Kosmic Konsciousness found physical form on Earth in the early 20th Century, in a human host whom men came to call Jack Kirby! Lo, the Kirby prophecy was upon us!
Kirby’s Kosmic Kreations hid in plain sight, in the humble form of comic books! This was The Test! Those fearless few that found themselves obsessed, enthralled and imbued with Kirby Konsciousness were blessed indeed. For it is they, the Keepers of Kosmic Konsciousness who shall fashion the nexus of a new Kirby Kradle! And so, even as men in old-fashioned trilby hats point helplessly at the sky, the Day of The Kirby Krackle will be upon us!
Thus shall The Kreators erupt to Meta-Life once more, breaking the tyrannical boundaries between dreams and reality, sowing the seeds of Kirby’s Kosmic Konsciousness throughout the galaxy, and far, far beyond….
2. This panel, from Fantastic Four #94 (January 1970). That face. That wonderful face. That nutty suit, so wonderfully wrong in so many ways. Yet a joy so overwhelmingly energetic, wherein the familiar trope of “Clobberin’ Time” becomes an image of impossible surprise and joy. A reaction so sudden, so unbridled, that Crystal and Johnny seem almost to fear Ben’s response as a potential moment of chaos and orange-rock hysteria.
But instead these are the outstretched arms of the proud Yiddish Uncle. The Thing has just been told that Reed and Sue’s baby’s middle-name will be ‘Benjamin.’ This is therefore the expansive joy of the American Jew/Orange Rock Monster who has found social acceptance on a deeply personal level.
Kirby was ten years old when the outstretched arms of The Jazz Singer announced one of the high points in the history of Jewish-American techno-schmaltz, and, like Ben’s, Jolson’s hands plead as much as they greet. So this panel represents The Thing’s desire, above everything else, to be loved and accepted, rocks and all. Benjy and Kirby, inseparable in many ways, remind us that the sign of The Outsider’s Outstretched Arms should always be greeted with warmth, delight and an unconditional acceptance. Unless it’s Doctor Doom or someone like that.
2011: KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (Jack Kirby panels): Douglas Rushkoff on THE ETERNALS | John Hilgart on BLACK MAGIC | Gary Panter on DEMON | Dan Nadel on OMAC | Deb Chachra on CAPTAIN AMERICA | Mark Frauenfelder on KAMANDI | Jason Grote on MACHINE MAN | Ben Greenman on SANDMAN | Annie Nocenti on THE X-MEN | Greg Rowland on THE FANTASTIC FOUR | Joshua Glenn on TALES TO ASTONISH | Lynn Peril on YOUNG LOVE | Jim Shepard on STRANGE TALES | David Smay on MISTER MIRACLE | Joe Alterio on BLACK PANTHER | Sean Howe on THOR | Mark Newgarden on JIMMY OLSEN | Dean Haspiel on DEVIL DINOSAUR | Matthew Specktor on THE AVENGERS | Terese Svoboda on TALES OF SUSPENSE | Matthew Wells on THE NEW GODS | Toni Schlesinger on REAL CLUE | Josh Kramer on THE FOREVER PEOPLE | Glen David Gold on JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY | Douglas Wolk on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY | MORE EXEGETICAL COMMENTARIES: Joshua Glenn on Kirby’s Radium Age Sci-Fi Influences | Chris Lanier on Kirby vs. Kubrick | Scott Edelman recalls when the FF walked among us | Adam McGovern is haunted by a panel from THE NEW GODS | Matt Seneca studies the sensuality of Kirby’s women | Btoom! Rob Steibel settles the Jack Kirby vs. Stan Lee question | Galactus Lives! Rob Steibel analyzes a single Kirby panel in six posts | Danny Fingeroth figgers out The Thing | Adam McGovern on four decades (so far) of Kirby’s “Fourth World” mythos | Jack Kirby: Anti-Fascist Pipe Smoker
2014: KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (typefaces): Matthew Battles on ALDINE ITALIC | Adam McGovern on DATA 70 | Sherri Wasserman on TORONTO SUBWAY | Sarah Werner on JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | Douglas Wolk on TODD KLONE | Mark Kingwell on GILL SANS | Joe Alterio on AKZIDENZ-GROTESK | Suzanne Fischer on CALIFORNIA BRAILLE | Gary Panter on SHE’S NOT THERE | Deb Chachra on FAUX DEVANAGARI | Peggy Nelson on FUTURA | Tom Nealon on JENSON’S ROMAN | Rob Walker on SAVANNAH SIGN | Tony Leone on TRADE GOTHIC BOLD CONDENSED NO. 20 | Chika Azuma on KUMON WORKSHEET | Chris Spurgeon on ELECTRONIC DISPLAY | Amanda French on DIPLOMA REGULAR | Steve Price on SCREAM QUEEN | Alissa Walker on CHICAGO | Helene Silverman on CHINESE SHIPPING BOX | Tim Spencer on SHATTER | Jessamyn West on COMIC SANS | Whitney Trettien on WILKINS’S REAL CHARACTER | Cintra Wilson on HERMÈS vs. HOTDOG | Jacob Covey on GOTHAM.
2013: HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (old-school hip hop tracks): Luc Sante on “Spoonin’ Rap” | Dallas Penn on “Rapper’s Delight” | Werner Von Wallenrod on “Rappin’ Blow” | DJ Frane on “The Incredible Fulk” | Paul Devlin on “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | Phil Dyess-Nugent on “That’s the Joint” | Adam McGovern on “Freedom” | David Abrams on “Rapture” | Andrew Hultkrans on “The New Rap Language” | Tim Carmody on “Jazzy Sensation (Bronx Version)” | Drew Huge on “Can I Get a Soul Clap” | Oliver Wang on “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” | Douglas Wolk on “Making Cash Money” | Adrienne Crew on “The Message” | Dart Adams on “Pak Jam” | Alex Belth on “Buffalo Gals” | Joshua Glenn on “Ya Mama” | Phil Freeman on “No Sell Out” | Nate Patrin on “Death Mix Live, Pt. 2” | Brian Berger on “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” | Cosmo Baker on “Here We Go (Live at the Funhouse)” | Colleen Werthmann on “Rockit” | Roy Christopher on “The Coldest Rap” | Dan Reines on “The Dream Team is in the House” | Franklin Bruno on The Lockers.
2012: KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (Captain Kirk scenes): Dafna Pleban: Justice or vengeance? | Mark Kingwell : Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | Nick Abadzis: “KHAAAAAN!” | Stephen Burt: “No kill I” | Greg Rowland: Kirk browbeats NOMAD | Zack Handlen: Kirk’s eulogy for Spock| Peggy Nelson: The joke is on Kirk | Kevin Church: Kirk vs. Decker | Enrique Ramirez: Good Kirk vs. Evil Kirk | Adam McGovern: Captain Camelot | Flourish Klink: Koon-ut-kal-if-fee | David Smay: Federation exceptionalism | Amanda LaPergola: Wizard fight | Steve Schneider: A million things you can’t have | Joshua Glenn: Debating in a vacuum | Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons: Klingon diplomacy | Trav S.D.: “We… the PEOPLE” | Matthew Battles: Brinksmanship on the brink | Annie Nocenti: Captain Smirk | Ian W. Hill: Sisko meets Kirk | Gabby Nicasio: Noninterference policy | Peter Bebergal: Kirk’s countdown | Matt Glaser: Kirk’s ghost | Joe Alterio: Watching Kirk vs. Gorn | Annalee Newitz: How Spock wins