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

This year would have 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.

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

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 and 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 honour Kirby's contributions to DC Comics, and it isn't 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 honouring Kirby's birthday, but the only other major thing the publisher is doing is a newly-announced series of $US1 ($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 more so 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.


    Because the DC landscape in general is just in a better place right now. Marvel has talent, but its spread way more thinly than DC, who going into Rebirth grabbed just about all of the non-exclusive writers worth noting.

    The current landscape is just what we are going to have to deal with for a while, it is going to take even more losses of sales for Marvel to realise that not all of their stories need to have a narrative (in either side's favor).

    It's pretty shameful of Marvel to do a bunch of variants and cheap reprints in the month of the anniversary while DC have gone the extra mile and are doing six new books.

    I've always been more a Marvel fan than a DC one but even this has left me gobsmacked.

    I don't think it really matters. It's a memorial, not a dick-waving contest, who cares which one decided to make the bigger song-and-dance about it?

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