The late Silver Age into the Bronze Age of comic books was this weird time. On the one hand, there was still this bonkers notion that any idea, was a good idea. Any idea that was child friendly and would pass the Comics Code Authority, would get published. On the other hand, it was a time when the second true generation of comic book readers had not only emerged, but was also growing up, and they wanted their comic books to grow with them. Through the work of so many incredible writers and artists, from both DC and Marvel, we saw some of the greatest stories of all time.
A comic book fan cannot reasonably have a proper discussion about fandom, the industry or anything about the medium, without acknowledging the contributions of Jack “The King” Kirby. Much has been written about Kirby’s work by countless people, and writers better than myself have provided incredible analysis of his work.
Instead of creating a universe, as he did with Stan Lee and others over at Marvel, by the time Jack Kirby arrived at DC, he was given just a small corner to play with. It seems almost ludicrous, looking back at that time; Jack Kirby, co-creator of the likes of Thor, the X-Men, Daredevil, the Avengers… relegated to a secondary title, and the promise of publishing a certain number of titles and characters. We have since learned that the talents and mind of Jack Kirby was limitless.
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen finally collects Kirby’s entire run on the title that would eventually turn the entire DC Comics Universe on its ear, into a single volume! In just seventeen issues (just two years on the title!), Jack Kirby not only turned this title around, but either introduced or re-introduced many cornerstones to the DC mythos; Darkseid and many Fourth World Concepts emerge here, along with the Hairies, the Cadmus Project and the DNAliens (including beloved Dubbilex). Kirby’s Golden Age co-creations of the Guardian and the Newsboy Legion providing back-up and sidekick roles to a character that has traditionally been a sidekick himself.
That is the magic of Jack Kirby; whether it be through his stories or his images, he is able to make you believe anything as possible. His mind and his hand created fantastic scenarios where Jimmy truly shines as both a character, and as a hero in his own right. Sure, he needs to be bailed out every now and then by the Man of Steel, and perhaps that deus ex machina should reduce the quality of these stories, but it does not.
Reading this for the first time last year was a bonkers trip, and one that has made me not only appreciate this corner of the Superman mythos, but also made me fall in love with Jack Kirby all over again. It truly, does not come any better than this.
Collects: Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen (Vol. 1) 133-139 & 141-148