Best Kirby Cover?

By | Friday, June 21, 2024 Leave a Comment
I stumbled across an anicent (2006) post of mine where I kicked around the notion of my favorite comic book cover by Jack Kirby. At the time, I noted that most of the Kirby covers that stick in my brain are the iconic ones like Fantastic Four #1, Amazing Fantasy #15 and Avengers #4 but that they stick in my brain more for the issue that they represent and not the actual art itself. I ultimately offered up Tales of Suspense #80 as a great cover based on just the artwork itself, but I didn't really offer any reasoning. So what if I revist the idea of a great -- possibly even favorite -- cover based on actual rubric of some sort?

So what would (theoretically) make a Kirby cover great?

Beyond just being by Jack Kirby, I think it should have at least some of the "typical" Kirby artistic hallmarks. Kirby Krackle or those weird anatomical squiggles or something like that. And it should probably lean into the dynamism he's known for, with a focus on action generally and a strong sense of depth, possibly using extreme foreshortening. The characters should be ones he created himself and, ideally, recognizeable characters not just a one-issue protagonist like from many of his romance and monster comics. And, certainly no offense to him, but it should probably not be from when his eyesight began degrading and his artwork became almost a pastiche of itself.

So off the cuff, I think I'm generally talking about his work from the '60s and early '70s. If we want to include Kirby Krackle specifically, we're looking at mid-1960s at the earliest. This all eliminates Tales of Suspense #80; it does technically have a little proto-Krackle effect under the title banner, but the lack of depth and/or heavy action preclude it from contention. Likewise, some classics like Fantastic Four #51 and Journey into Mystery #120 wouldn't be included, despite some powerful visuals. A lot of Jack's work at DC in that era (notably Jimmy Olsen and some of the Fourth World books) wouldn't be available because many feature Superman, a character he did not create, and argueably any Captain America issues would be out since that character was initially Joe Simon's idea.

I think Fantastic Four #82 hits a lot of the marks. It doesn't have Kirby Krackle specifically but it does have a lot of Kirby flourishes in some of the characters' musculature. Or Maybe Fantastic Four #72? Thor #143? The Demon #1? What do you all think?
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