Remembering Joe Kubert

Like many comic-book fans, I was greatly saddened to hear that Joe Kubert passed away today at the age of 85. He was truly one of the medium’s greatest talents, easily standing alongside the likes of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Bill Everett, Jack Cole and any other legend one would care to mention.

I first encountered his work through DC’s Bronze Age war titles like Sgt. Rock and Blitzkrieg, but soon discovered his equally revelatory stints on the Golden- and Silver-Age Hawkman via reprints. Every so often, I’d run across a Viking Prince back-up or a Ragman cover and further marvel at the man’s ability to draw a striking and exciting comic.

Those traits would even translate to his earliest, more primitive Golden-Age efforts.

I’ll leave the biographical details and emotional tributes to those who had the pleasure to know and work with Kubert. For now, let’s just remember the man through his astounding body of work.

From Cat-Man Comics #10 (Holyoke, May 1942), here’s an example of early Kubert art starring the electrical super-hero known as Volton!

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By the time a few years had passed, Kubert’s style progressed considerably. The difference can readily be seen in this Hawkman feature that was first printed in a “Wheaties Miniature Edition” of Flash Comics (DC Comics, April 1946). “The Scavenger Of The Skies” was written by Gardner Fox.

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In the 1950s, Joe Kubert became managing editor of the small St. John imprint, which had already published some of the better comics of the era despite its relative obscurity to such titans as DC.

Kubert created one of his most enduring characters at St. John: Tor. As it was obviously a labor of love, the artist would revive the character several times in subsequent years for a variety of publishers.

Here is Tor’s first appearance in One Million Years Ago #1 (St. John, September 1953). The story is written and drawn by Joe Kubert. Note how his art has essentially evolved to what we recognize today as the classic Kubert style.

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My sincerest condolences to Joe Kubert’s family, friends and fans. He will definitely be missed.

Grand Old Flagman

Flagman wasn’t in the upper – or even second – tier of patriotic super-heroes during the characters’ WWII heyday. Heck, he didn’t even have a proper origin.

Major Hornet, a special investigator for the government who probably didn’t even need a masked identity to go smash Nazis, just launched into action with his teen sidekick Rusty back in Captain Aero Comics #1 with no other motivation than to destroy an invading horde of Axis robots.

(Although, as motivators go, hostile Nazi robots probably rank pretty high on the list.)

The Flagman’s first adventure was credited to Allen Ulmer and Ray Wilner, but a variety of creators worked on the feature during its 13-issue lifespan. The most notable were Charles Quinlan – a familiar name to fans of the Golden Age Cat-Man and Miss Victory – and a young Joe Kubert.

The following story, which first appeared in Captain Aero Comics #4 (Holyoke, April 1942), showcases a Kubert style that is still rough around the edges but possess a spark that lifts it beyond the typical comic-book journeyman of the time. (I particularly like the monstrous faces the artist created for the story’s assorted thugs.)

For your Fourth of July reading pleasure, here’s “Voyage Of Death.”

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Obsession For Men

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Let’s wrap up Valentine’s Day with a classic romance comic that turns the formula on its head: This time, it’s the man who impulsively throws away a chance at true happiness while the spurned woman remains calm and resolute.

The story, entitled “Success Or Else,” is taken from Hollywood Confessions #2 (St. John, December 1949). It was drawn by a talented young buck named Joe Kubert. I wonder whatever happened to him?

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Everywhere There’s Signs

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And then there was the day Zatara decided to torture some poor chump who was a tad obsessive-compulsive when it came to signage.

Yes, signage. Truly a case for the world’s greatest magician.

“The Danger Sign” was written by George Kashdan and drawn by Joe Kubert. The story originally appeared in World’s Finest Comics #40, DC Comics (May-June, 1949).

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Wham, Bam Alabam!

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Here’s a vintage Western illustrated by the legendary Joe Kubert. Aside from offering a rare opportunity to witness a master’s craft at an earlier stage of development, the origin of “Alabam” is a fairly sophisticated story for its time.

“Split-Second Stand In” originally appeared in Jesse James #1 (Avon Periodicals, 1950).

The writer is not credited.

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Africa Screams

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Judging solely by Golden Age comic books, Africa was once the leading exporter of terrifying totems, wrathful witch doctors and … um … zombies.

The following story, which originally appeared in Strange Terrors #5 (St. John, 1952), does absolutely nothing to dispel such stereotypes. However, the tale does feature outstanding art from the legendary Joe Kubert.

The 13 Days Of Halloween continue with “Cat’s Death.”

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