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About Kirby The Prophet

I like to read Jack Kirby's books before I go to bed. They fill my mind with ideas, so I have to write that stuff down! This is what Kirby said on the topic:
I was presenting my views to the reader and saying 'what do YOU think?' I think that's an imperative for any writer. In other words, no writer should feel that he has the last word on any subject. Because he hasn't got the capacity. He doesn't know! I don't know, see, I'm guessing as well as you [do], except I may be a little more descriptive, that's all. [...] I put enough chinks into the story to allow the reader to interpret it his way.  Because I've always respected the reader. [...] I sold the best stories I could. But I didn't present my stories as the final word.(source: Earth Watch radio interview.

Kirby was like Shakespeare: a springboard, an inspiration. Do we really think that …
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Bomba (Monsterbus p.302)

Another triumph from Kirby! But it looks like Lee ruined the ending again.

First, the good news: this is (in my opinion) a classic.

A fresh new idea, a completely different kind of monster, a new exotic location, great art, a story driven by personality: Bomba was irritated by American attitudes, and it was this, not any hurry to conquer the earth, that drove the story. rational heroesand real brain food: why do we assume that aliens will target Americans or Europeans? This alien preferred the company of Amazonian people. 
This is an excellent example of how Kirby writes: he described his method in interviews: he would immerse himself in a situation without any plan, and let the situation dictate what happened next. This story is like that, it really feels believable and natural to me. I love every frame!

Now the bad news: the ending is obviously changed. The final panel art is not how Kirby drew planets. And the final dialog is classic Stan Lee: it adds nothing, merely restating what …

Sporr (Monsterbus p.294)

Superb! Some of the recent stories showed evidence of editing, or of being hurried. But this is Kirby at his best! It has seven of the eight signs of a Kirby story (the missing one, no text before the title, is optional anyway). There is so much in this!

The start of Dracula, and its rich locationFrankenstein references and movie motifs (the villagers with pitchforks were not in the book IIRC). Real creativity: not just an alien or conventional monster - it has no brain or desireReal science: amoebas exist, and Kirby even gives them their correct phylum, protozoa.More science: how the amoeba does not have a brain but simply reacts.More science: how experiments must progress slowly, step by step.The name: "sporr" is of course a "spore"Adding the phylum is one of many indications that the dialog is not significantly edited by Lee. Other indications include:the lack of "explain the obvious" textthe general sparse efficiency of the textthe amount of text fits …

I Dared to Look Into The Beyond (Monsterbus p.288)

This is a clear example of the art contradicting the final text. The splash page suggests horror, and the final page shows a primitive world. Kirby would certainly know of H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine" , and there are plenty of Kirby stories that show a concern with nuclear destruction. So it all points to a future where mankind has wiped itself out, or died off in some other way. But then the final text tries to be upbeat, as if the entire human race had left the planet just five years later. But why would everybody leave? And why is there no evidence of cities or other human influence? And why scratch the message on a rock, if mankind was so advanced, why not at least create a shiny plinth?

Almost certainly this is an apocalyptic story. But it appears that Lee as editor wanted to make it upbeat for children (that was his role in Goodman's business, to make stories suitable for young children). so he removed the story's teeth.

The original story, then, was of …

Monstrom (Monsterbus p.281)

This is more like it! Better art, a more believable story, and it's well told: plenty of human interest and excitement. And a good moral: at no point did the creature ever threaten them. Of course, they couldn't take the chance. This was not a moral failing, but a simple measure of technology: the people had no way to protect themselves except through primitive violence. A nice story to remember and think about.

Note that both this and the previous story have elements that were later used in the Fantastic Four: the Watcher's sky full of fire (FF 48) and the silent Creature From the Lost Lagoon with his broken spaceship underwater.

Dragoom (Monsterbus p.273)

Frankly, this story does nothing for me. To my eyes the art looks rushed (the main character in particular), so I will conclude that the story was as well.

It does make sense to an extent: the only thing this being fears is other beings from his home planet, so that is the only way to defeat him. And the idea that a top monster movie maker might have reasonable looking flame dummies, that is plausible. But otherwise I can't get excited about this story. Moving on...

I Unleashed Shagg (Monsterbus p. 265)

As usual Kirby chooses just the right name. "Shag" (also translated "shab") meant "assistant king" in ancient Mesopotamia.  ",,,the names on many of these fresh seals are those of the crown princes of Mesopotamia of Sargon's dynasty who latterly became emperors, the title which these bear in many of their seals is not " king " or " emperor," but " Under-King Companion," in the form of Shag-man, Shab-man, or Sha-man.  The first element in this title, namely, Shag, Shab or Sha, is very interesting. Its pictograph [,,,] represents and means " Heart " ; and its secondary meaning is " interior, midst, within," and also " below, lower, under " (source) "Shag" is also a part of very ancient Sumerian king names like  Lugal-shag-engur (ruler of Lagash, 2500 BC) and En-shag-kushana (ruler of Uruk around the same time). Often translated "Shak" which would explain the double &qu…

The Cyclops (Monsterbus p.257)

The very rushed art makes me think the writing was rushed as well. It does include a real world legend - the story of Ulysses, and that suggests a Kirby story. But the details are otherwise cliches: the woman who can't marry the man until he earns her respect, the convenient coincidence that creates the problem and the other coincidence that solves it. My guess is that Kirby just did rough layouts, and his heart was not in this story. 

Some of the dialog sounds like Stan Lee to me: for example, the very simple language, phrases like  "but the Cyclops was not dead!", general sloppiness (the Cyclops refers to "my eyes") and the ending that repeats the same phrase, and so on.

Moving on...