The Simon And Kirby Superheroes book review

A book dedicated to the work of artist/writers Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, there’s much for comic fans to enjoy in The Simon And Kirby Superheroes, says Rob…

I love Jack Kirby artwork. From the very first books (reproduced in this massive tome) through his seminal work with Stan Lee to his more adventurous ‘Super-God’-inspired work at DC, his creativity and unique style has inspired nearly every creative mind in comics. While maybe Joe Simon sometimes (undeservingly so) is overlooked in his contribution to the world of comics, this fantastic compendium highlights both these giants of the industry in this equally giant collection

Away from the restraints of Marvel and DC, this is a glorious look at the pair’s early work, which spans the majority of the 40s, both pre- and post-war, all wrapped up in a huge, full colour, oversized hardcover that features some of the earliest work that this dynamic duo produced.

Filled with characters you might not have heard of such as ‘The Fly’, ‘Stuntman’, ‘Captain 3D’ and ‘Fighting American’ (who is, if you look at the costume, the inspiration for Steve ‘Captain America’ Rogers’ most recent get-up), the book reprints these comics with caring love and attention and really keeps an authentic feel to everything From the use of fonts throughout, the page layouts, and indexes all keeping the style and feel of the original material, the book covers nearly the entire twenty year collaboration between these two creators.

The first thing you notice when you open the book is that it smells of comics, that inky, print smell that is lost in a lot of new books (thanks to new printing techniques). This is a great bit of attention to detail for old fans, who were bought up on four-colour smudgy print newspaper quality books and this (hopefully) deliberate attempt to reproduce that unique classic nostalgic feel of Kirby and Simon’s work. The memories of the style this book brings back in the way it’s printed shows a real love from the publishers for the original source material. The publishers have chosen the paper and print reproduction with care.

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The book also comes with a foreword from recent comic legend Neil Gaiman, who mentions his love for this work, and how Kirby and Simon inspired his work on his own creations and comic career and that Sandman (which is one Gaiman’s most famous works, was a reworking and adaptation of the original Sandman, which Joe Simon initially wrote.)

Chronological tracing Simon’s and Kirby’s career, the books begins with Black Owl, which dates back to 1940, and then traces the pair’s work, which includes spies, street level vigilantes, historical heroes, super soldiers and stuntmen, all of which were published outside of Marvel and DC. 

While it could be debated that the pair’s most famous work, the creation of Captain America, should have been an integral part of this collection, it’s actually fascinating to see that has not been added (probably due to copyright issues) and really how very little impact not having the Captain America book actually has. As, even without this iconic book, this collection is still jam-packed with comic creativity and fantastic reads.

This collection contains a powerful and fascinating selection of stories crammed with some of the very best of the duo’s work of the time. The intentional lack of DC and Timely/Marvel books within this collection is obvious, and in many ways makes for a more fun read.

Captain America and the rest of the more well renowned heroes of the time have their adventures printed and reprinted numerous times and can be bought in any number of collections, so to have this excellent chronology of ‘other’ characters and creations of the time makes this a unique and fascinating (if a little expensive) piece of collectable comic nostalgia that has been produced with loving care for fans.

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The Simon And Kirby Superheroes is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.

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5 out of 5