GENRE: Science Fiction
PUBLISHER: Titan Books
FORMAT: Graphic Novel
RELEASE: May 29, 2013
THE GOOD: Fantastic art restoration, Variety of stories, Bonus content and comics
THE BAD: Unremarkable stories
As part of Titan Books’ ongoing series of books collecting the classic works of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, The Simon and Kirby Library: Science Fiction is the latest title to be released and spans over twenty years of comic history (1940-1966).
Featuring over 300 pages of restored strips and serials, the book opens with the first series the creators ever worked on together: Blue Bolt. As one might expect from the duo that created Marvel’s Captain America, Blue Bolt is very much a superhero for the sci-fi age. The title borrows heavily from its predecessors (namely Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon), but also clearly sets in place many of the elements that would later be used in Captain America.
Moving past that, into the 1950s, Simon and Kirby transitioned into more traditional science fiction with comics focused on spacemen, giant robots and strange civilizations. It’s during this period when the majority of their work becomes largely unremarkable in terms of the impact they had on modern comics. However, there are a few shining examples of creativity to be found like “The Cadmus Seed” from Amazing Tales (a forerunner for DC Comics’ Project Cadmus), in which Professor Horace Grooger invents human seedlings for an unstoppable army.
As the 60s roll around, we see Simon and Kirby go their separate ways (Kirby to DC Comics and Simon to Harvey Comics) which leaves the final chapter of this book spotlighting a variety of other creators like writers Archie Goodwin and Wally Wood as well as artists like Reed Crandall and Al Williamson. Heroes make a return with the introduction to Clawfang the Barbarian and Earthman, but my favorite would have to be “The Boys Up There” from Jigsaw in which interplanetary land scheme gets turned on its head.
Overall, The Simon and Kirby Library: Science Fiction isn’t really a must-have for a typical comic fan, but with such lavish restorations and plenty of classic space age comics to read true fans of Simon and Kirby will be far from disappointed.