Jack Kirby holds a special place in comic book history as one of the medium’s greatest creators. His status as the King of Comics should come as no surprise when many of his creations are still headlining the industry today. Together with frequent collaborators Stan Lee and Joe Simon, Kirby brought the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, and the X-Men into this world. In celebration of his 100th birthday in 2017, DC Comics plans to release several comics focusing on characters that Kirby created.
DC’s solicitations for August 2017 are strewn with Kirby characters. Tom King and Mitch Gerads will release the first issue of their 12-issue series Mister Miracle. Orion will be featured in an upcoming arc in Robert Venditti’s Hal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps. Forager is currently being featured in his own mini-series Bug!: The Adventures of Forager as part of the Young Animal line of books. DC will also be releasing a series of specials focusing on The Newsboy Legion, the Boy Commandos, the Sandman, Manhunter, Darkseid, Black Racer, and Shilo Norman. In the wake of this news, let’s look away from his most famous characters for a moment and instead focus on some of the more bizarre Jack Kirby creations.
In 1966, the duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were looking to create something that no one had ever seen before. In Fantastic Four #48, the duo debuted Galactus, a giant spaceman in a fantastical helmet who drained planets of their energy in order to sustain himself. Unlike other villains at the time, Galactus was a godlike being, an unstoppable force of nature that could not be prevented. He was so much more than simply “evil.”
The three-issue story that ran through Fantastic Four that year came to be known as “The Galactus Trilogy” and was deemed an instant classic. Kirby originally intended for Galactus to be a one-and-done character, but the story’s popularity ultimately forced him to bring Galan of Taa out of retirement.
14. EGO THE LIVING PLANET
Ego the Living Planet is a sentient planet with a face. He was created by Jack Kirby as the artist became more and more interested in exploring space and the universe at large. He debuted in 1966’s Thor #132 as an adversary before transitioning to the role of an ally following an encounter with Galactus.
Kirby had developed Ego based on the idea of weird, unexplained phenomenon occurring in unknown corners of the galaxy for millions of years, of which we have no knowledge. He believed that if lifeforms were left to develop on their own, they could develop into something far more advanced than the human race. Ego is the embodiment of Kirby’s idea that there is something out there that is smarter, stronger, and superior to us.
13. THE WATCHER
Jack Kirby introduced readers to Uatu the Watcher in the pages of Fantastic Four #13 from 1963. In this issue, he suddenly makes his appearance to break up a fight between the Thing and Red Ghost (with his trio of pet monkeys) on the moon. Another of Kirby’s godlike beings, the Watcher was forbidden from altering events, until he broke his word in order to prevent the destruction of Earth.
From the beginning, he was established as a member of an ancient race who watched and documented activities throughout the universe. He would go on to appear in Tales of Suspense, Silver Surfer, and Marvel Super-Heroes during the 1960’s. The Watcher’s full name was not revealed until Captain Marvel #39 from 1975.
If you want bizarre, OMAC is pretty high up there. Billy Blank is transformed into the futuristic, superpowered One Man Army Corps by the artificial intelligent satellite known as Brother Eye. The character was introduced in OMAC #1 from 1974; however, the series only lasted for eight issues before cancellation. DC later decided to merge two of Kirby’s creations together by making Buddy Blank the grandfather of Kamandi.
Kirby created OMAC primarily because he needed to fulfill his contract with DC Comics. The New Gods had just been cancelled, but his 15 pages a week quota still needed to be met. Kirby developed the idea for OMAC as a Captain America story set in the future — an idea he had been playing with for some time.
11. FIN FANG FOOM
One of the more notable Marvel monsters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby has to be Fin Fang Foom. First introduced in Strange Tales #89 from 1961, Fin Fang Foom actually predates Marvel Comics’ superheroes by several years. It wasn’t until later that he was introduced into the company’s mainstream continuity. He’s also a dragon monster that wears pants.
He was visually based on the traditional depiction of a Chinese dragon, and Lee named him based on a play called Chu Chin Chow about a Chinese merchant, which he saw when he was a child. Despite dedication to Chinese imagery, Fin Fang Foom is actually a member of an alien race who once came to Earth in order to conquer it.
We remember Jack Kirby as the creator of iconic superheroes like the Fantastic Four, Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America, but for a long time, the King of Comics was known for his monsters. Every month, readers would look forward to the new bizarre creation that would go up against the hero of the book. Perhaps one of the weirder Kirby monsters is the being known as Dragon Man.
Dragon Man is a dragon-like humanoid android who was built by a scientist and somehow animated by the supervillain Diablo’s alchemical potion. Introduced in Fantastic Four #35 from 1965, Dragon Man was a mindless tool for evildoers to use until the Forever Foundation turned him into a genius.
9. AWESOME ANDROID
Another weird Kirby monster is the Awesome Android, who is a 15-foot-tall artificial being with what looks like a brick for a head. The creature debuted in Fantastic Four #15 from 1963 as the creation of the Mad Thinker, who unleashed his monster against the combined abilities of the Fantastic Four. It was shown to be able to take on the powers of its opponent, which it has used again and again as a serious powerhouse.
The Awesome Android was seemingly created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee to be as weird as possible. The Mad Thinker engineered it by combining the DNA of an ape with Reed Richards’ own patented unstable molecules and added it to a super strong body with a built-in computer and solar-power energy. It’s all a long-winded way of saying “look at this new creation; isn’t it weird?”
8. BLACK RACER
When Jack Kirby moved to DC Comics, many of his ideas took new forms across town. The New Gods were implied to be the successors of the Old Gods seen in Thor. When it came time to develop the race’s avatar of death, he didn’t go much further than his old creation the Silver Surfer.
To the untrained eye, the Black Racer looks like a grown man in knight’s armor and a cape who can fly through the air using a pair of skis to get around. Surfboard or skis, Kirby liked alternative forms of transportation. The Black Racer would also take on the form of Willie Walker, a Vietnam veteran who was paralyzed. Much like many ancient gods, Walker would collect the New Gods at the time of their deaths in order to carry them to the afterlife.
Here’s an interesting one: Psycho-Man is actually a microscopic being who operates a man-sized robotic suit of armor to commit crimes. First appearing in Fantastic Four Annual #5 from 1967, Psycho-Man hails from the Microverse, the leader of his people. He invades Earth in hopes of conquering Earth as well.
Thanks to his robotic suit, he has the strength to go up against the Fantastic Four. His Control Box allows him to influence the emotions of human beings, making them feel fear or hate at the push of a button. This ability allows him to easily subjugate the people that he encounters. A villain to this day, who knew that the idea of a teeny, tiny man in a suit of armor could have such staying power.
Out of all the Marvel Monsters created over the years, Doughboy has to be the weirdest. Its essentially a superhuman pie-man with a face. Kirby must have been influenced by the Pillsbury Doughboy, who had been introduced to television commercials just over a decade prior to his creation’s introduction.
The semi-sentient monster was developed by Arnim Zola to serve as his servant at Castle Zola in Switzerland. It debuted in Captain America #209 from 1977 and proved to be effective against even the mighty Steve Rogers. Doughboy is capable of manipulating its form in many different ways—adding and subtracting mass, changing shape, and altering its density. Think of him as a mindless version of Clayface, if Clayface was also made of delicious pie (not really).
5. TRULL THE UNHUMAN
Trull the Unhuman is probably the most obscure Kirby creation on this list, but that doesn’t make him any less bizarre. Introduced in Tales to Astonish #21 from 1961, Trull is an alien entity who loses his physical body after crashing to Earth. The essence of the entity inhabits the body of a steam shovel, bringing the machine to life and going on a rampage.
Trull the Unhuman attempts to conquer the world, with his first actions being the destruction of the construction crew nearby. Through Trull, the steam shovel can talk, make demands, and lift up big rocks with his mouth. Who knows what the creature would have gone on to do if an elephant hadn’t come by and attacked the steam shovel.
4. SUPREME INTELLIGENCE
The Supreme Intelligence is essentially a giant alien head in a tank that bestows wisdom and leads the Kree people. It was created thousands of years ago by Kree scientists who preserved the brains of their culture’s greatest minds. The addition of a supercomputer eventually results in the brains forming a collective intelligence that is capable of storing vast collections of knowledge and processing unfathomable amounts of data.
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the being for Fantastic Four #65, when they introduced Ronan the Accuser and the Kree Empire. It is the supreme ruler of the empire, sending Ronan out to fight the Fantastic Four. The Supreme Intelligence also possesses great telepathic powers along with many other abilities.
3. DEVIL DINOSAUR
In the 1970s, DC Comics was planning to turn Kirby’s Kamandi series into an animated cartoon. Marvel attempted to counter by having him create a similar character with a dinosaur companion. Devil Dinosaur, a giant, red Tyrannosaurus Rex, and his ape-like friend Moon-Boy became a true sight to behold. Kirby’s original intentions were to set their adventures together in the Earth’s past, when humans and dinosaurs (somehow) coexisted.
The character debuted in Devil Dinosaur #1 from 1978, a series that only lasted nine issues before cancellation. Devil Dinosaur may not have been a financial success, but it sure helped Kirby maintain his status as one of the most original comic book creators. Though Marvel attempted to pitch their own animated series, it never came to fruition. In fact, neither of those shows did in the end.
Jack Kirby clearly liked drawing giant heads, as was evidenced by the creation of several characters on this very list. He created the organism known as MODOK — a Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing — a man known as George Tarleton, who was mutated by the evil Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) into a super intelligent being. As a result of the experiments, MODOK developed an oversized head, requiring him to get around in a flying chair.
MODOK ultimately rebelled against his creators, and using his newfound abilities, became the new leader of AIM. The villain made his first full appearance in Tales of Suspense #94 from 1967, where he went up against Captain America. The two characters would go on to become ongoing enemies from that point on.
1. SILVER SURFER
When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were plotting Fantastic Four #48, the duo had conceived of Galactus. When Kirby went off to create the issue, though, he came back with a story outline that was very different from what they had agreed to. A new character had been added to the story, the character that would be known as the Silver Surfer.
Kirby had decided that if Galactus was a godlike being, he would have a herald that would do his bidding and help him in his effort to consume planets. After initially rejecting the new addition, Lee agreed to incorporate him into the story. The silver body and cosmic surfboard make the Silver Surfer one of the most unique creations in all of comics.
Those were pretty weird. Do you know any weirder Kirby creations? Let us know in the comments below.