During Jack Kirby's 1970s stint at DC Comics, Joe Simon happened to be doing some work for DC, as well, so the two creators teamed up together for the first time since their big split in the late 1950s (which was an amicable one, of course, but it is still weird to get back together after over a decade of being apart). Their collaboration was the Sandman, a hero who lived in your dreams.
82 Scarlet Witch
In a lot of ways, under Lee and Kirby, the Scarlet Witch was mostly known for how much guys wanted to get with her. She was constantly being hit on by people and Magneto even tried to use her as a lure to get Namor to work with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. However, she managed to maintain an honorable outlook on life despite her rough position in the world and ended up becoming an Avenger with her brother (where, of course, she was quickly involved in multiple romances).
Jack Kirby was not on the X-Men for too long, but soon before he left the series, he introduced the mutant-hunting robots known as the Sentinels and Kirby's design for these robots is still used to this very day, although with some minor upgrades along the way.
84 Sharon Carter
Initially introduced as a more traditional female SHIELD agent, in that she was a bit demure, Sharon Carter was soon kicking ass and taking names in the Captain America feature in Tales of Suspense, leading to her and Captain America quickly forming quite the power couple (things got weird when she realized that Captain America had dated her older sister, Peggy, which the shifting Marvel timeline eventually turned into Sharon's Grand-Aunt Peggy).
While Jane Foster was Thor's love interest for some time, eventually Kirby and Lee ended up siding more with the Asgardian warrior known as Sif. She could handle herself in battle and thus she was a bit more of a fit with the reckless Thor, who was always finding himself mixed up in some sort of dangerous plot. It didn't hurt, of course, that she was gorgeous.
86 Silver Surfer
Introduced during the famous Galactus Trilogy, the Silver Surfer ended up becoming a cause of strife between Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. As soon as Kirby introduced the character, an alien who learned to feel when he met Alicia Masters, Lee fell in love with the character. Kirby, though, felt a sense of protection towards the character after he invented him, so it became an awkward situation as both men wanted to control the Surfer's destiny. When Lee launched a Silver Surfer comic book and had John Buscema draw it instead of Kirby (and came up with his own origin for the Surfer), Kirby was not happy.
When Lee and Kirby introduced the shapeshifting Skrulls in the pages of Fantastic Four #2, there is no way that the creators ever would have guessed that these seemingly minor characters would later become major players in the Marvel Universe, being in the center of two major events, the "Kree-Skrull War" and Secret Invasion, where the Skrulls tried to surreptitiously take control of Earth from the humans.
One of the coolest ideas for a Fantastic Four villain was the Super-Skrull, because he had the powers of all four members of the Fantastic Four! It was a crazy cool visual to see a bad guy rocking all four powers of the FF at once!
89 Supreme Intelligence
As you have seen, Kirby's designs are almost inexplicable, and that was definitely the case for the Kree leader known as the Supreme Intelligence. I can't even imagine the thought process that came up with having the head of the Kree be a disembodied giant head with tentacles on it that lived in a huge vat.
When he was first introduced, Thor was more like Marvel's version of Superman than anything else, including the fact that when Don Blake became Thor, he was still Don Blake, he was just in Thor's body. Over time, as Kirby's influence over the series grew, it became less about Don Blake becoming a superhero named Thor and more about a god named Thor who shared a body with a human named Don Blake.
It became more like the traditional Norse Myths that Kirby adored and the book became one of Marvel's most critically acclaimed series of the era.
91 Thunderbolt Ross
When it comes to steadfast adversaries, J. Jonah Jameson and Spider-Man is definitely high on the list, but imagine if J. Jonah Jameson didn't only have scientists that he funded to take down Spider-Man (who kept turning into supervillains again and again) and instead had the full force of the United States military behind him? That was like Thunderbolt Ross and his obsession with taking down the Hulk. Also, unlike Jameson, Ross had a direct connection to the Hulk, as his daughter, Betty, was in love with the Hulk's human identity, Bruce Banner. It was a fascinating dynamic watching all of them interact with each other/
92 Two-Gun Kid
The Two-Gun Kid was a regular western hero that was introduced by Lee and Kirby, but as the Marvel Age of Comics began to take off, Kirby and Lee decided to revamp the character and turn him more into a sort of Western superhero. The end result made for one of the most memorable Western heroes of the decade, and Two-Gun Kid still shows up every once in a while in Marvel Comics today.
We've mentioned conflicts between Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, and one of their biggest ones came with the creation of Warlock. Kirby wanted to do a story where a group of scientists tried to create the perfect man but find that the perfect man would find them all so IMperfect that he would want to destroy them. It's a clever idea. However, Lee wanted things to be more straightforward, so he had the scientists be evil scientists who were trying to create a perfect being the rule the world and the perfect being turned on them because they were explicitly evil.
94 Warriors Three
The best part of the Thor comics for some time was the "Tales of Asgard" back-ups where Kirby and Lee would introduce all sorts of cool ideas and then work those ideas into future Thor comic book stories. In one of these serialized back-ups, Thor put together a crew of warriors for a mission. Three of the people he recruits became an informal team themselves, Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg became the Warriors Three, Thor's most reliable warrior buddies (outside of Balder, of course).
After a few issues as a solo hero, Lee and Kirby decided to give Ant-Man a partner when they introduced a scientist who was killed by a being from another dimension that the scientist had just accessed himself. The scientist's daughter wanted to avenge her father's death, so Ant-Man agreed to turn the young woman into the winsome Wasp, a flying hero with powers just like Ant-Man's.
One of the oddest traditions in the Marvel Universe is for Uatu the Watcher to show up and tell everyone that he cannot interfere, because his duty is only to observe events. Besides the fact that telling people that they're being observe is, in and of itself, interference, the Watcher would also constantly>/i> interfere directly with the heroes, like when he helped the Fantastic Four defeat Galactus!
97 Wonder Man
Wonder Man was intended by Lee and Kirby to be a one-off character, a man recruited by the Masters of Evil to infilitrate the Avengers and take them down from within using the superpowers that Baron Zemo of the Masters of Evil gave him. In the end, though, Wonder Man was too much of a hero to do so, so he betrayed the Masters of Evil and died saving the Avengers. Years later, it turned out he was just in a coma and he was still alive. He became a longtime Avenger after that.
You really don't get much more awesome than a villain with a sort of ski mask and a magic crowbar. Think about it, he has a magic crowbar! The universe has the Infinity Gauntlet, it has the Casket of Ancient Winters, it has the Siege Perilous...and it also has a magical crowbar that was used just to smash stuff. Comic books are amazing.
99 Wyatt Wingfoot
The stories in the Fantastic Four during the heyday of Lee/Kirby and inker Joe Sinnott were flying by with such speed that the end of the Galactus Trilogy actually is only about halfway through Fantastic Four #50. The rest of the issue deals with Johnny Storm going to college! Once there, he meets a Native American named Wyatt Wingfoot who becomes his best friend. There weren't an awful lot of good depictions of Native Americans in comic books in the mid-1960s, so it was impressive what Lee and Kirby did with Wingfoot.
Professor Charles Xavier brought together a group of young mutants and trained them in the use of their powers so that they could become superheroes as part of his X-Men, which he claimed was named after the "X-tra power" that they each had and not, you know, after his superhero name, Professor X. Total coincidence! The X-Men were a bit of a minor group of heroes who later became the most popular comic book series in the Marvel Universe for twenty years beginning in the 1980s! There is no way Lee and Kirby ever would have predicted that.
Happy birthday, Jack! Thanks for the all of the great characters you helped to give us over the years!
Which favorite Kirby characters of yours did we miss? Let us know in the comments section! All of you Paste Pot Pete fans make some noise!