In celebration of the 94th anniversary of Jack Kirby’s birth, here’s a story from the very beginning of the King’s legendary partnership with the equally great Joe Simon.
Kirby first met Simon while working at Fox Publications. The two decided to freelance together and began their long collaboration with a memorable story from the second issue of Novelty Press’ Blue Bolt Comics.
The tale – which features one of the great femme fatales of the Golden Age, The Green Sorceress – may strike modern readers as odd given the heroes’ willingness to wage a brutal war against their enemies. They even resort to brainwashing as a means of securing victory.
While such tactics are usually attributed to anti-heroes – or form the basis of an over-hyped mini-series - in contemporary comics, Simon and Kirby’s early comics reflected their acute concerns regarding Hitler’s expansion in Europe.
(An issue they would tackle more overtly with their most famous creation, Captain America.)
At that point in comics history, super-hero comics were much more freewheeling. Even the Big Blue Boy Scout himself, Superman, felt free to toss criminals and sabouteurs to their deaths if it meant innocent lives would be saved.
To Simon and Kirby, who were following in the traditions of pulp characters like The Shadow and classic adventure fiction such as Dumas’ Three Musketeers, heroic figures utilizing any and all means possible to secure peace seemed perfectly natural.
Here are “The Green Sorceress and the Cyclotron” from Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 1 #2 (Novelty Press, July 1940) and “The Green Sorceress Reforms” from Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 1 #3 (August, 1940).
The story and art for both stories are by Simon and Kirby.