Why Is DC Comics Doing a Better Job of Celebrating Jack Kirby's 100th Birthday Than Marvel?

Image: DC Comics. Mister Miracle art by Nick Bradshaw, Darkseid art by Chris Burnham, and Forager art by Michael Allred

This year would’ve marked comics icon Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday. To celebrate a man who contributed so much to the world of comics, publishers are out in force to celebrate Kirby’s legacy... though some are doing more than others.

DC Comics recently announced six special one-shot comic books set to release throughout August, the month of Kirby’s actual 100th birthday. Each issue will tell a new story about one of Kirby’s famous DC creations: Darkseid (from Mark Evanier and Scott Kolins), the Newsboy Legion (Howard Chaykin), Sandman (Dan Jurgens, Steve Orlando, John Bogdanove, and Rick Leonardi), Manhunter (Kieth Giffen, Dan DiDio), Orion and the New Gods (Shane Davis and Michelle Delecki), and the Black Racer (Reginald Hudlin and Denys Cowan).

It’s a really cool way to honor Kirby’s contributions to DC Comics, and it’s not even the only thing DC have been doing this year to celebrate Kirby’s life. Since January, there’s been the ongoing Kamandi Challenge series, where a superstar roster of writers and artists all work together to create a wild adventure for one of Kirby’s weirdest heroes. The Young Animals imprint has launched a trippy series based on another New God creation, Forager. August will also see the release of Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle series, another revival of a Kirby classic.


Meanwhile, Marvel Comics has been weirdly quiet about anything it plans to do to mark the occasion. Today’s Marvel solicits for August reconfirmed the already-announced special variant cover series honoring Kirby’s birthday, but the only other major thing the publisher is doing is a newly-announced series of $1 “True Believer” reprints of famous old issues featuring Kirby’s input. And that’s it. Nothing actually new, no new series inspired by Kirby’s creations, just some variants and some cheap re-releases.

The Generations: Thor Kirby variant cover, and 1964's Avengers #4, being released as part of the True Believers $1 range.

Jack Kirby helped forge some of the biggest icons of Marvel Comic’s entire history—his creative fingerprints run deep through everything from Captain America, Thor, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four, to characters like Devil Dinosaur who are lesser-known but still playing a big part in Marvel’s comics today. A Marvel Comics without Kirby’s contributions is unfathomable to comprehend, perhaps even moreso than a DC without his creations. It’s also interesting to note, given the tumultuous history Kirby has with Marvel, from his departure in the ‘70s to the only recently-concluded legal battle between the publisher and his estate.

Sure, there’s still plenty of time for Marvel to announce tributes for the rest of the year, but considering how all-in DC has gone for Kirby so far in 2017, what little Marvel is doing in comparison seems downright perplexing.


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James Whitbrook

James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!