A collection of beautiful stories featuring some of Jack “King” Kirby’s most iconic and enduring heroes: Captain America, the X-Men, Ant-Man, and Sgt. Fury! Included in this glorious Artist’s Edition are complete stories of each, and all drawn in the old Twice-Up format (meaning this is a BIG book!). Additionally, several of Kirby’s best monster stories are also included. Rounding off in true Artist’s Edition style is an extra-long gallery section, filled with great and rare covers, pin-ups, and exceptional pages. Another Kirby winner from IDW Publishing!

As with all original artist’s gallery editions, this is a collection of classic comic material and I’ll be reviewing the book and not the story. For a complete list of all current and announced editions, with review links, please visit our Index.

This catch-all title provides a ton of entertainment: twelve complete stories ranging from six to twenty-two pages, plus twenty-seven covers and splash pages in the gallery. All at the twice-up size of 15″ by 22″. Plus an introduction by Glen David Gold and wrapping up with a one-page Kirby biography. It really doesn’t get any better than this.

  • Tales To Astonish #35: Return of the Ant-Man (September 1962)
  • Tales Of Suspense #81: The Red Skull supreme! (September 1966)
  • Strange Tales #105: The return of the Wizard! (February 1963)
  • Sgt. Fury #6: The fangs of the Desert Fox! (March 1964)
  • X-Men #7: The return of the Blob! (September 1964)
  • Journey Into Mystery #58: The return of the Martian! (May 1960)
  • Journey Into Mystery #63: The dangerous doll (December 1960)
  • Journey Into Mystery #74: Midnight in the wax museum (November 1961)
  • Journey Into Mystery #76: Follow the leader (January 1962)
  • Strange Tales #94: I was a decoy for Pildorr The Plunderer from outer space! (March 1962)
  • Tales To Astonish #19: Rommbu! (May 1961)
  • Tales To Astonish #34: A monster at my window! (August 1962)

All but two pages are scanned from original art. This may be the first time I’ve seen “this image was reproduced from a photocopy” on replacement pages.

Scans are great: no issues in clarity. Pages haven’t aged badly, with colour from off-white to yellow. Margin notes vary widely: from nothing to panel descriptions. Far more correction fluid use on the Heroes work versus almost none on the Monster work. And the opposite for visible pencils. Lots of visible gradients in the inks.

Cristescu’s design is wonderful. That blue from the cover continues to the chapter dividers and accents the indices and introduction. Not sure about the four fonts used on the cover, but it works. Colour chapter dividers and “original comic art” story dividers both utilize panel enlargements well; the images are clean and powerful. These are massive pages and Cristescu has put them to good use.

Heavy matte paper stock in a sewn binding. IDW set the standard and continues to lead. The book comes shrink-wrapped in a cardboard case with a colour sticker showing cover and UPC. The gluing of signatures seems aggressive with this volume, perhaps because of the paper size and page count. Most the book lies flat when the center is smoothed.

It seems there was a supply snafu with Diamond, where this book went immediately on backorder. Like the Gene Colan Dracula AE, this should be rectified in a few weeks.

Kirby has received the most love from the AE format, and with good reason. His art at this size is simply amazing to view and enjoy. It also allows the reader to take note of the different inkers’ styles. I don’t know what the schedule was like but Roussos inks on the Sgt. Fury story are atrocious. Ayers handled the bulk of these contents but I appreciated Giacoia and Sinnott’s contributions the most.

We’re finally getting Atlas age material, and it is stunning. Those monster pages are gorgeous, and perhaps my favourite Kirby period. Please let there be more Kirby twice-up for a second volume!


 


Jack Kirby Marvel Heroes & Monsters Artist Edition HC

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