New Gods #6.
December, 1971 ? January, 1972.
“The Glory Boat.”
Writer and Editor: Jack Kirby: Artists: Jack Kirby and Mike Royer.
Among Jack Kirby’s many gifts as an artist, and what set him apart from most of the comic book writers of his time, is that he was always asking questions of humanity through his stories. He asked thoughtful questions of his audience, and he asked pointed questions of himself. At the conclusion of “The Glory Boat,” Kirby asks, “What is man in the last analysis — his philosophy — or himself?” This comes after a fierce sea battle on Earth between Orion and Lightray, warriors of the planet New Genesis, and the Deep Six, soldiers of the planet Apokolips. In the midst of battle, three humans of Earth adrift in a lifeboat become necessary participants in this scrimmage of war, and they must come to terms with their own philosophies and actions. A man who boasts tough bravado becomes a coward, and a young man who speaks of peace demonstrates courage and heroism in the heat of battle. Kirby always went deeper than just telling stories on a grand, epic scale. Amidst the great visual power, there were always personal issues raging within characters that were brought to the forefront in times of the utmost physical struggle, in both gods and humans. While Kirby didn’t provide us with answers, he gave us situations to ponder and study. He understood that the questioning of what makes us feel, act and react to any given situation was always a necessary start in understanding why what we present of ourselves on the outside is often in direct contrast to what we actually are on the inside.
The Mighty Thor #160.
Writer: Stan Lee. Artists: Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta. Editor: Not credited, but I’m assuming it’s Stan Lee.
Our story begins on the rooftop of a skyscraper in New York City. It ends on the outskirts of the Black Galaxy. In-between the threat of Galactus is nearing the planet Rigel, and its leaders have summoned Thor, a former foe, to help save the populace and their home from the self-proclaimed world-ravisher. Thor is joined by the Recorder, a living machine created by the Rigelians to record their history, but who has also proven himself a loyal companion in battle. At the heart of the Black Galaxy Galactus has discovered Ego, the living planet, who had hoped to hide himself from Galactus. To the destroyer of worlds Ego is nothing more than another planet to devour; while to Ego, Galactus is the greatest threat to its very existence. Ego strikes first with a surge of concentrated energy to counter Galactus and its power sends Galactus’ ship reeling and shatters lifeless planetoids. The blast is so catastrophic that it tears the distant Rigelian spacecraft carrying Thor and the Recorder to pieces, leaving god and machine adrift in space.
“And Now…Galactus!” is blessed and cosmically realized by several full-page illustrations by the incomparable Jack Kirby. The first depicts the poised and powerful Thor on a New York rooftop, prepared to face battle. It is soon followed by a determined and concerned Recorder in flight above Asgard, soaring at great speed to reach Galactus. A third and stunning illustration has a fleet of diverse spacecrafts deep in space, survivors of Galactus’ hunger, gliding past fiery meteors and a trail of smoldering planetary debris. Then there is the hardened face of Galactus, emotionless yet filled with determination as he seeks out more sustenance. Finally, there is Ego, the living planet, reintroduced in the center of a black and white collage, a powerful artistic device that Kirby was utilizing more and more with spirited imagination. These jaw-dropping dramatic visuals enhance a compelling story already rich in intense, unwavering drama.
“Protectors of Earth, Inc.”
Writer: Elliot S. Maggin. Artists: Curt Swan and Vince Colletta. Editor. Julius Schwartz.
I love this comic for many reasons:
1) Superman #274 was my introduction to writer Kurt Vonnegut, although I didn’t know it at first. It was in the letters column of Superman #278 that printed comments on #274 where I learned that Maggin had paid tribute to Vonnegut with “Protectors of Earth, Inc.”
2) I was just happy to have the comic! I found it while enroute on a family vacation to Borrego Springs in Southern California back in January of 1974. Given DC’s poor distribution of Superman in Pasadena at the time, it was a great find, nestled in the same rack with another never-stocked-in-Pasadena comic, Superman #273.
3) The cover by artist Nick Cardy has always grabbed me. A desperate Superman cries out for help from the reader as the Man of Steel tears apart the “U” in his own logo, which is acting as a poor anchor to prevent him from being sucked into the Earth.
4) The story reads as well today as it did over thirty years ago. In fact, it just may be better now! A rich and powerful crime syndicate is intent on stealing Dr. David Trump’s space corridor, an incredible invention that will allow humans to travel from planet to planet. Superman swears to protect Trump and the device, and winds up once again saving the Earth! Eccentric writer Wade Halibut, Jr., a character based on Vonnegut, is on hand to make Clark Kent and Superman’s life difficult. A very well-written story with effective touches of humor.