Marvel Comics: 10 Essential Works Of Jack Kirby | ScreenRant – Screen Rant

Everyone knows Jack Kirby co-created Captain America and the X-Men, but what are his most essential works at Marvel Comics?
With Eternals on the horizon, Jack Kirby’s extraordinary cosmic opus from Marvel Comics is getting a new look from fans young and old. Kirby’s legacy at Marvel Comics is indistinguishable from the publisher or even the medium itself. Some of his most essential Marvel works are some of the most significant comic books of all time.
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It’s easy to consider Kirby in the context of what he created or co-created, especially in the first ten years of the Marvel Universe. But the Eternals are evidence that his genius extends far beyond the obvious, and there are many essential comic books by the legendary writer and artist worth exploring by readers.
One of the more obscure but essential works by Jack Kirby at Marvel is his adaptation of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Many things about 2001 still hold up today, and one of them is the broad cinematic canvas Kirby himself was using in his comic book works like The Eternals.
Kirby spun the adaptation into a monthly series that introduced the character of Machine Man, a superhero who has since become part of the Marvel Universe and got his own book in 1978. Kirby’s interest in technology and god-like alien beings makes these two runs essential for fans of the creator.
After Kirby returned to Marvel Comics from DC in the late 70s, he worked on a number of properties. One of the least known but absolutely essential is Devil Dinosaur. This series only ran for nine issues in 1978 but features some of Kirby’s greatest and most dynamic artwork.
The truly cosmic imagination he brought to New Gods and Eternals was on full display here, as was his inclination towards monstrous characters, which went back to the 1950s. Though the run was brief, it remains a creative benchmark for Kirby few have ever matched.
Jack Kirby’s lifelong interest in mythology and the concepts of gods produced many fantastic comics. The Mighty Thor is essential for fans in seeing the seeds of what would become the truly cosmic and singular mythologies of the Fourth World and the Eternals.
Kirby helped develop the story of Thor, Loki, and Asgard in Journey Into Mystery, and then worked on a run of the Thor title between issues #126–177, in addition to others. During this time he brought in characters like Hercules and experimented with concepts that would later come to fruition in subsequent work.
Comic book fans know that Black Panther was co-created by Jack Kirby for his introduction in Fantastic Four #52. Kirby also worked on the first twelve issues of the character’s solo title in 1977, which are essential not only for Kirby’s classic art but some unique stories that could have bearing on the future of the MCU.
During Kirby’s run, fans meet a variant of Black Panther from the future. This is the first such variant of the character in Marvel Comics lore, and with the burgeoning multiverse in the comics and movies, it could play a role in the development of Black Panther on screen.
Like The Thing, another Kirby creation, the Hulk is a classic monster and Kirby’s five-issue run to start off the title is essential for establishing much of the character’s mythology. In those issues, Kirby plays with the dichotomy between men and monsters which would feature heavily in the contrast between the Eternals and Deviants.
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The success of the Hulk would propel him into the Avengers, and cameos in other books as well. Kirby’s creation of a man tormented by the monster inside him would inform the sixty years of stories that would follow.
Jack Kirby is easily one of the best X-Men artists of all time and co-created some of the most iconic mutants, including Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Angel, and the Beast. While his early run on the book wasn’t entirely popular at the time, it’s since proven fundamental in the lore of not just the Marvel Universe but the MCU.
During Kirby’s run, he introduced a number of concepts and characters like Magneto, the Sentinels, and perhaps most importantly to the MCU at the moment, Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch.
The Avengers are the cornerstone of the MCU, and Jack Kirby is fundamental in the creation of the team. His early run on the book in 1963 is beyond essential for establishing the concept as well as most of the main players.
During his tenure, the team would come together against Loki, Captain America would come back from being frozen in ice, and they would fight for the first time the super-powerful Kang The Conqueror. Kirby’s work on The Avengers in the early 60s is foundational to the success of Marvel Comics and many decades later, the MCU.
The elaborate mythology Kirby created of the Eternals, Deviants, and the Celestials is perhaps the most complex of his career but has also been the least understood. The upcoming movie is likely to bring a new spotlight on Kirby’s work in the 1970s and the dense, layered world he crafted of alien beings, their creations, and their role in the history of the Marvel Universe dating back to the beginning.
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His Eternals work has since become the springboard for many other aspects of the greater cosmic Marvel Universe, with the Celestials playing a massive role in the history of the universe. The Celestials were later revealed to have also engineered the Skrulls and other alien races.
Few superhero comic books have been as influential as the Fantastic Four. Jack Kirby co-created the team and is responsible for the staggering art on some of the best Fantastic Four story arcs of all time, like the essential “Galactus Trilogy.”
Kirby created scores of characters, like the Silver Surfer, and laid the foundation for much of the Marvel Universe as fans know it today. His work is about to become even more influential as the MCU prepares to bring the FF into the franchise, surely drawing on some of Kirby’s most significant works.
Jack Kirby, along with Joe Simon, co-created one of the greatest superheroes of all time in Captain America. Captain America #1 in 1941 is an essential comic in comic history, as is Kirby’s early run on the book for what was then Timely Comics.
Timely would become Marvel in the 60s, and Kirby would bring back Steve Rogers into the Marvel Universe for a new generation. The concepts of Captain America and Bucky remain constitutional to the comics and the MCU today, and Captain America himself is an icon around the world as great as Superman or Batman.
NEXT: The Top 10 Avengers Artists, Ranked
DARBY HARN is the author of the novels Ever The Hero, The Judgment Of Valene, and A Country Of Eternal Light. His short fiction appears in Strange Horizons, Interzone, Shimmer, and other venues.

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